Most states have what are called “wrongful death” laws that compensate close family members for the death of a loved one caused by someone’s negligent actions. The laws do vary a little from state to state, so if you have lost a family member recently, then you should contact a suitably qualified personal injury attorney in your state who has had proven experience in wrongful death claims.
There are many reasons why a wrongful death lawsuit is initiated by a family member. Usually, it is due to someone dying unnecessarily because another person’s actions gave rise to their untimely death. The deceased may have died in a car accident, at work, in an elevator, in a bus or train accident or due to medical negligence or malpractice. The underlying reason for such a claim is that the person died because someone, whether it was a single individual, a company or even a government agency or organization was found to have been negligent and that negligence caused that person’s death.
Wrongful death claims are not intended for family members to make a financial gain from the death of their loved one. They are intended to help compensate those members for the loss of current and future income as well as the love and companionship that that person provided before their death. In most states there are strict conditions which determine who exactly is able to make a claim and the type of relationship involved, especially the proven degree of dependence, between those who stand to benefit and the deceased.
A successful wrongful death claim does more than simply compensate family members financially but it allows some degree of closure to their sense of grievance and loss over the needless death of their loved one. In some circumstances, the court may decide that the compensation settlement agreed when a wrongful death claim is successful includes punitive damages, usually when the circumstances of the death have revealed particularly serious examples of negligence.
If you have lost a family member due to the negligence of others recently, you should make an appointment with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, the insurance company or companies acting on the part of the person at fault will be swift to act on any possibility of a claim against their client and may even seek to remove or cover up incriminating evidence. If a claim is to be successful, evidence of who was to blame is essential and this often depends on witness statements and fresh evidence still being available. In many states, a statute of limitations may also limit the amount of time that a wrongful death claim can be initiated. When the claim is made against a government agency, that period of time is often even more restricted than it might be if it was against a private individual or individuals.
Many personal injury attorneys will act on a contingency fee basis. This means that there is nothing to lose by making an appointment with an attorney to discuss the events that lead to the death of your family member. The attorney will be able to give you an impartial and informed opinion about whether a wrongful dearth claim is appropriate in your circumstances and give an idea whether it is likely to be successful.