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Wrongful Death - Attorneys and Law

Wrongful death is a tort case that an individual can bring when his or her family member suffers death due to negligence or due to an intentional action. In a wrongful death action, the victimís family members receive compensation for the negligence that caused the death, including money to pay for funeral costs and often money to compensate the family members for loss of companionship. If someone in your family was killed as a result of an accident or intentional act, it is important to understand how accident claims for wrongful death work under personal injury law. It is also important to understand how a wrongful death attorney can help.

Causes of Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death claims can occur in a wide variety of situations. Essentially any time the victim would have a personal injury claim had he lived, his family has a wrongful death claim.

Common causes of wrongful death claims include:

  • Medical malpractice: You will have to prove that the doctor was negligent and that his negligence caused the death. An attorney can help you find expert witnesses or collect medical evidence to show how the doctorís actions led to the death
  • Car accidents: If car accident injuries, or injuries from a truck, bus, pedestrian or bicycle accident result in death, then the responsible party can be held liable. Here, your lawyer will have to help you prove negligence and prove the car accident led to the death. In some cases, your lawyer will have to help you decide exactly who to sue, if it isnít clear who is responsible.
  • Work accident: If a workplace accident occurs and leads to death, workers compensation benefits will pay. A lawyer can help you to make your claim and work within this administrative system.

Wrongful Death Damages

Wrongful death damages can be very large, since death is a serious consequence of negligence. Wrongful death damages are usually factor in:

  • The deceasedís income. If a person was making $100,000 a year and was expected to work for 20 more years, his family lost out on 2 million dollars in income. This lost income can be factored into wrongful death damages and the person who caused the death may have to pay it.
  • The relationship of the deceased to the victim. Close relatives suffer more of a loss when a family member dies, and will be compensated accordingly
  • The medical bills that were incurred before the death. This can sometimes total in the thousands or hundreds of thousands depending on the nature of the injuries and how the wrongful death occurred
  • The funeral costs
  • Punitive damages, especially when the death was intentional

Wrongful death damages can clearly total in the thousands, the hundreds of thousands or even the millions. For example, when O.J. Simpson was found liable in a wrongful death action brought by the families of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman, O.J. was ordered to pay $8.5 million in damages.

Working with a Wrongful Death Attorney

The amount of wrongful death damages you are entitled to can vary, but if you want to make sure the person who hurt your family member is liable and that you get the largest wrongful death damage award possible, you should consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney. Your lawyer can help you by:

  • Evaluating the strength of your case; the type of evidence you will need to have and the elements you will need to prove under personal injury law vary depending on what caused the wrongful death. A wrongful deaht lawyer can help you understand the requirements and gather evidence.
  • Helping you to put together the best case possible. Your lawyer can assist you by hiring witnesses or accident reconstruction experts and otherwise helping you to present your evidence in as convincing a manner as possible, so the insurance company or jury will give you a larger amount of money
  • Assist you in deciding whether to settle. Most wrongful death cases are negotiated by insurance companies for the defendant, such as car accident insurers or medical malpractice insurers. If you are offered a lump sum settlement offer by one of these insurers, your lawyer will help you review it and make sure it is fair. Heíll also help you to negotiate if you arenít happy with the settlement offer.

Wrongful death is a serious tort claim and there are serious consequences when negligence or intentional wrongful actions cause death. If you need to bring a wrongful death claim, you need a wrongful death lawyer.

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