Wrongful Death Resources
An individual's negligent or intentional acts can result in another's death. The at-fault party can be held liable for wrongful death. The victim's (decedent's) loved ones may claim monetary damages for their losses. Note that the standard of proof for civil cases is lower than it is for criminal cases. Defendants acquitted on murder charges may still be found liable in civil wrongful death cases.
FindLaw's Wrongful Death section has useful information on these personal injury claims. It contains valuable wrongful death resources. The Wrongful Death FAQ and Wrongful Death Claims pages provide more information.
Types of Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death suits involving high-profile murders often grab headlines. But most of these cases involve motor vehicle accidents. Wrongful death settlements can also result from:
- Drunk driving and similar fatal accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Wrongful acts by nursing homes that violate a professional duty of care
- Dangerous consumer products (including pharmaceuticals and defective products)
- Workplace accidents (many resulting from work-related traffic incidents)
- Car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents
Each state may have its own distinct wrongful death statute. But general principles of personal injury law recognize victim's rights. Those who suffer under these difficult times have the right to financial compensation.
Survival Actions Versus Wrongful Death Actions
On top of a wrongful death claim, a decedent's personal representative can also bring a survival action. This would be to collect damages for the benefit of the deceased's estate. A survival action is based on the pain and suffering and medical bills of the decedent. Separately, wrongful death suits are focused on the surviving family members' losses. For example, the deceased person's surviving spouse may have to pay for:
- Medical expenses
- Burial expenses
- Funeral expenses
They may also have non-economic damages, such as loss of companionship (also known as loss of consortium). Other types of damages include the surviving children's loss of financial support. Indeed, parental loss can bring great pressure on children trying to make ends meet.
When an at-fault party's actions are particularly shocking, they may also be liable for punitive damages. These damages go beyond compensating victims in a wrongful death suit. They are designed to deter reckless and egregious behaviors. For example, a drunk driver who knowingly got behind the wheel and killed someone may be found liable for punitive damages.
Statistics Affecting Wrongful Death Liability
- Mortality Data: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Frequently updated death statistics and data; includes the most common causes of death and infant mortality information
- Consumer Product Safety Commission: Provides information on consumer product recall; includes information on pool safety and baby cribs; also discusses carbon monoxide and household causes of accidental death
- Medline Plus: Injuries and Wounds: From the National Library of Medicine, alphabetically arranged resources on injuries and wounds
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Provides information on highway safety and fatalities; includes special sections on drunk driving and distracted driving
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH): Comprehensive information on workplace safety; includes emergency preparedness and chemical exposure
- National Toxicology Program: Fact sheets, testing information, and study results about hazardous and toxic substances; includes reports on common environmental carcinogens
- Violence Policy Center: Studies, fact sheets, and press releases on firearms product liability; also contains studies and reports about gun litigation
- Swimming Pools: Safety is No Accident: Special report from Consumer Affairs on the dangers of swimming pools; learn about liability issues and how to make pools safer
A Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help
You may have more questions about a potential wrongful death lawsuit. If you would like legal advice on a claim, consider meeting with a personal injury attorney near you. Personal injury lawyers (or wrongful death attorneys) can help you take legal action. They can help you fight against at-fault parties and their insurance companies.
Keep in mind that your case may be subject to your state's statute of limitations. This is a law that sets a time limit for your legal team to file a lawsuit in court. Personal injury lawyers have experience in different practice areas relating to civil harm. Many offer free case evaluations for wrongful death cases. Some will work on a contingency fee arrangement. That means you won't have to pay them unless they get you a recovery award.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified personal injury attorney to make sure your rights are protected.