The sudden loss of a loved one can turn your life upside down. But when their passing was caused by the reckless, irresponsible, or willful actions of another, your family may be feeling enraged and ready to pursue justice for your family member.
Fortunately, whether you’re looking for a wrongful death attorney in Phoenix, a personal injury lawyer in Toledo, or are wanting to know more about the criminal charges the person responsible for your loved one’s death may face, you’ve come to the right page.
First, let’s examine what a wrongful death claim is and how it’s different from any criminal charges the liable party could face. A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit brought forward seeking compensation for a person’s untimely and wrongful death.
This is in contrast to criminal charges which seek penalties including jail or prison time, fines, and other consequences. Criminal charges must also be filed by the prosecuting attorney.
Who Has the Authority to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Every state has their own laws for how wrongful death lawsuits work. But in each state, only the designated party has the right to file the wrongful death claim.
In some states, this could be the deceased person’s surviving spouse or adult children. In others, only the executor of the decedent’s estate can file the claim. Many different parties could have the right to pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
However, before you can file yours, you’ll need to look into your state’s laws regarding who has the authority to file a wrongful death claim and see whether that party is you.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is an essential component of every wrongful death claim. This sets the amount of time you will have to get your claim filed within the civil court system.
It is critical your lawsuit be filed before the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits expires. Failure to meet this deadline will surely result in the dismissal of your case once the defense petitions the court citing an expired statute of limitations.
Again, every state’s laws are different regarding wrongful death and personal injury claims. Some states have statute of limitations as short as one year while others allow for a maximum of four years.
Compensation for Families of Wrongful Death Victims
The way damages are approached in wrongful death claims will also vary by state. Damages refer to the compensation won or awarded which is designed to remedy all various ways your life, your families lives, and the decedent’s life were affected by the liable party’s actions.
In some states, only the deceased’s losses can be sought after in the lawsuit. This might include the medical expenses the decedent incurred prior to their passing, their physical pain and suffering, lost earning capacity, and funeral and burial expenses, to name a few.
In other states, the person pursuing the wrongful death claim may be able to seek damages for not only the deceased’s life, but theirs and their families as well. For example, they may be able to include the loss of love and support, guardianship and security, advice and companionship, as well as other financial losses.
Lost income and loss of potential future earnings, including retirement savings contributions, salary increases, promotions, and the like could also be sought after in your wrongful death claim depending on what state you live in.
The types of losses you’ll be able to obtain compensation for in your wrongful death lawsuit will be unique to your case. You can start to get an idea of what you could be awarded by taking an inventory of all of the ways your life, your loved one’s life, and your families lives have been affected by the liable party’s negligent or reprehensible conduct.