Nothing will ever bring your loved one back to you. However, you can still pursue compensation to hold the person who caused a wrongful death financially responsible for the tragedy that your family has gone through. In most cases, the person who directly or indirectly caused the death to occur is still liable for financial damages even if he or she is acquitted of criminal charges or isn’t charged at all.
Proving Negligence In a Wrongful Death Case
If an individual dies because of another’s person negligence, he or she may be financially liable for that person’s wrongful death. Negligence occurs if an individual knew that his or her actions would lead to a serious injury or death. For instance, if a surgeon makes a mistake during a surgery, he or she is generally liable for the death.
A doctor may be liable for wrongful death if he or she refused to order a test that could have revealed a tumor or otherwise led to a more accurate diagnosis. Another example of negligence that leads to wrongful death would be if a property owner failed to prevent an individual from bringing a gun onto the premises or left a swimming pool or hot tub unattended.
An attorney may need to show that a doctor who made a mistake had the experience to make a proper diagnosis or the tools needed to avoid a surgical error. It may need to be shown that a property owner should have known the part of town where the establishment was located was prone to violence and failed to take preventative measures such as installing a metal detector.
Obtaining Compensation In a Wrongful Death Case
When an individual is killed because of the negligence of another person, he or she cannot seek justice on his or her own. However, the family of the person killed may be able to pursue compensation on behalf of their family member. Compensation may be awarded to help pay for final expenses such as paying off creditors or paying for a funeral.
A settlement or jury award may also reimburse the family for lost wages or lost future earnings. Punitive damages may also go toward helping the dependents of the deceased maintain their current lifestyle or pay for any special medical or educational needs that they may have.
The spouse or children of a deceased individual may also pursue compensation for the loss of companionship or loss of consortium related to that family member’s wrongful death. It is important to note that this individual would need to seek compensation in a separate case. However, the same attorney may represent the plaintiff in both cases.
Don’t Forget About Statute of Limitations in a Personal Injury Case
If you wish to pursue a wrongful death case, it is important that you do so within two years from the date when your family member died. It is also important to find out whether or not you have standing to pursue the case. If you wait until after the statute of limitations expires or don’t have standing, you and other family members won’t be able to win any monetary damages. This is true even if the facts in the case establish that another party would otherwise be liable for those damages.
The death of a family member is always hard to deal with. It may be even harder to deal with when that death is one that no one saw coming. While money may not replace the joy and peace that you felt while around a spouse or parent, holding the person who caused the death financially responsible may help bring about a sense of closure.