If you lost a loved one due to someone else's negligence, you may be considering filing a wrongful death suit. Wrongful death suits are civil cases where family members of the deceased can seek financial compensation for their loss, among other types of damages. The Balance explains the basic elements of these suits, and how you can proceed if you wish to file.
There are two components to every wrongful death suit. First, it must be proved that the deceased lost his or her life due to another person's reckless or negligent actions. For example, if your loved one played a role in the accident, you might not be eligible to file suit. Secondly, you must also show that you've experienced direct damages as a result of the loss of life. Damages can cover many different areas depending on the nature of the accident.
For instance, you can ask for compensation for any medical bills or funeral expenses you incurred on behalf of your loved one. If the person was the family's primary breadwinner, you can also seek damages for lost wages. Compensatory damages cover any pain and suffering, while punitive damages act as a deterrent to prevent others from partaking in the same sort of negligent behaviors.
Only certain people are able to file a wrongful death suit. While laws vary from state to state, in general, only family members are eligible to file suit. This usually means spouses and children, as they are directly impacted by the loss of life. In some cases, other family members may also be able to file suit. If you have questions about a wrongful death case, be sure to consult with an attorney to ensure you have the best possible chance of success.