When a loved one is killed in an accident, the surviving spouse or family members have a right to file a wrongful death claim against the party responsible. Most of the time, these lawsuits come after a criminal trial. For example, if someone is murdered, the family may pursue a wrongful death claim against the person they believed caused their loved one's death. However, these also occur after traffic accidents or medical errors that result in deaths, too.
What are the elements of a wrongful death case?
There are several elements of a wrongful death case that you need to have before you can take it to court. For instance, you'll need to show that a human being was killed and that the death was a result of negligence or the intent to cause harm. For example, a driver who was texting and didn't see a pedestrian was negligent. A person who attacked someone intending to cause him or her harm was malicious. Both situations can lead to a wrongful death case.
Are monetary injuries required to file a case? What kinds of monetary injuries are there?
You will also need to show that you or other surviving family members have suffered monetary injuries as a result of the person's death. A good example of this would be a spouse who now has lost her husband's wages and has to pay medical bills and funeral costs.
Finally, a personal representative has to be appointed to the estate. This person helps handle all the legal work that needs to be done alongside the family's attorney.
Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death Overview," accessed March 14, 2017