Wrongful death is a modern civil legal action/claim/lawsuit for damages against a person who is responsible for the death of the victim. Such actions are, generally, brought by close relatives of the deceased persons.
Under the English Common Law any claims related to a dead person would have become moot or not actionable, upon death. This left many children or other relatives depending on financial support and moral guidance of the dead person to fend for themselves. Thus, liable parties would pray that their victims die, so any civil claims against them would die with their victims.
Please note that the death does not have to be accidental. Even in a premediated murder case, the victim's relatives may be able to bring Wrongful Claims against the defendant.
Who has the Burden of Proof?
As opposed to a criminal prosecution that the governmental prosecutors must prove every elements of a crime “beyond a reasonable doubt,” in a civil action such as Wrongful Death, the plaintiff (the person who is suing) or lawyer must prove that the defendant is liable for the death. This liability can also be vicarious: which means if the defendant was driving a company car and caused the fatal accident, while conducting company business, the company could be sued as well. Of course, in most such cases the Insurance Companies are the ones who have to foot the bills.
In order to hold the defendant liable in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiffs in the claim (usually through the estate of the deceased victim) must meet the same burden of proof that the victim would have had to meet, had she or he lived.
Using the tort of negligence as an example, the plaintiff has to show that the defendant owed the victim a “duty of reasonable care,” that he/she “breached that duty,” that the breach of duty was a “direct and proximate cause of the death,” and that the death caused the ascertained financial “damages” to the plaintiff. However, the burden of proof here is, generally, by “Preponderance of Evidence” which is a lot simpler than “Beyond Reasonable Doubt” mandated in criminal prosecutions.
Who Can sue for Wrongful Death?
As mentioned above, each state has a wrongful death statute, which enumerates those eligible to file lawsuits. Generally, wrongful death lawsuits are filed by a representative of the estate of the deceased person. However, in all states, a spouse, parents of minors, and children of the deceased may file Wrongful Death Actions against the Defendants.
In some states siblings or even extended relatives like cousins, aunts, uncles, or grandparents can also sue.
In some states, domestic partner of the deceased may also file wrongful death claims; in states that same sex marriages are recognized, they can bring lawsuits for financial damages, and so on.
Here are some of the most common Wrongful Death Claims:
• Injuries that cause death at birth.
• Vehicular accidents, including trains, trucks, busses, automobiles, bikes and airplanes
• Defective Products that cause deaths
• Occupational hazards, especially when the necessary safety measures had not been taken into account.
• Accidents on premises where no relevant warnings signs were shown.
• Criminal actions, such as violence, shooting or stabbings
• Supervised professions where a person is in charge of others who believe that you will ensure their safety, such as nursing homes, schools, adult care and any other institution involved in the care of others.
Please note that as in most areas of law, wrongful death cases need highly experienced, diligent and compassionate Lawyers who have the resources to stand up against giant Insurance Companies and their savvy Power-Lawyers. In other words, you need a Superb Lawyer to help you obtain Justice! You will find such Lawyers here at www.ChosenLawyers.com.