When a loved one has been killed in an accident, it's common to feel confused and uncertain. In some cases, the death of a loved one can be even more difficult to deal with due to the cause of death. If your loved one has died because of the careless actions of a person or business, you might have the right to take legal action against someone. Read on to find out more about wrongful death claims.
When Loved Ones Are Impacted
Almost anyone that knows and cares about the victim of a fatal accident will be impacted by their death. A valid wrongful death claim is about more than being personally affected by a death, though. A finite group of people may file a wrongful death suit and that includes those who are financially impacted by the death. That can include both blood relatives of the deceased as well as a spouse or domestic partner.
How to Bring a Suit
States can vary in the way they approach wrongful death suits. In many states, it is the estate of the deceased that brings about the wrongful death suit. That often means the executor (or personal representative) of the estate is in charge of filing the lawsuit on behalf of all affected "members". Members, in this example, mean all those who have been financially impacted by the death of the deceased.
Proving That Harm Was Done
To bring a successful suit, the plaintiffs must prove that the defendant's actions directly led to the death of the loved one. For example, you might sue FedEx if a driver hit and killed your loved one. Your personal injury lawyer will need to show that the company policies of FedEx directly contributed to the accident. That might include looking into driver training, licensing, and policies about speeding. If FedEx had a policy of penalizing drivers for not delivering packages on time, you might be able to prove that they caused the death of your loved one. In other cases, the trail to the true plaintiff has to be followed. FedEx, for instance, might push the blame for the accident onto the manufacturer of the brakes in the delivery van.
Who to Sue
To gain compensation, there must be money available. You can, for example, sue a driver of a private car after an accident, but the compensation will be limited by any insurance money or personal wealth of the driver. Courts have the power to freeze assets and impose wage garnishment on plaintiffs when there is no (or inadequate) insurance available.
It can be devastating to cope with the death of a loved one—particularly when it was caused by others' carelessness or negligence. Speak to an auto accident attorney about a wrongful death suit as soon as you can.