When an accident robs you of a loved one, there are no words to describe the sheer emotional turmoil, fear and rage that you experience. You feel like there must be some recourse to be compensated for your loss, but you do not know how to go about it. If the death was the direct responsibility of another, you might be entitled to compensation from that person through filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Read an overview of the elements of a wrongful death case, who is entitled to compensation and the damages that can be awarded.
Wrongful Death Case
A wrongful death case arises when a person dies, and there is legal fault that can be assigned to another. This means that another person behaved carelessly, irresponsibly or even maliciously and that the behavior led to, or otherwise, contributed to the death. This sort of lawsuit has only been around in our country for a century or so, but it is a vital part of the United States civil law. Whether the death came from a car accident, medical malpractice or a faulty product, if you can prove fault, you may have a case.
Who Can Sue
The wrongful death suit must be filed by a representative of the decedent’s estate, on behalf of those survivors who have suffered loss, called the “real parties.” While these parties vary from state to state and case to case, they generally include the immediate family (spouses, children and parents of children), life partners, dependents, spouses and anyone who suffered provable financial loss from the decedent’s passing.
Who Is Responsible?
The list of people who might be responsible for a death can be very extensive and can extend far beyond the direct perpetrator of the behavior that leads to the accident. For example, if a drunk driver caused an accident that resulted in your loss, the person who gave them the alcohol might bear some responsibility, as might the owner of the location where the alcohol was served. The further you get away from the direct source of the accident, however, the harder it may be to prove involvement.
There are several categories of damage to which you might be entitled when your loved one dies in an accident. These include recovering medical and funerary expenses that are related to the death, loss of earnings and income of the deceased as well as future earnings, loss of benefits from pension or healthcare, loss of inheritance, loss of financial contribution, pain and suffering and mental anguish, loss of care and guidance, loss of companionship and consortium, and if the behavior that led to the death was truly reprehensible, sometimes punitive damages.
If you have lost a loved one in an accident, it is vital to seek legal representation to ensure that your rights are protected, and you get all the compensation you deserve. Take some time to read more about North Carolina and South Carolina wrongful death, and give us a call for a consult today.