Who Can File This Lawsuit?
The claim needs to be filed by someone representing the survivors of the decedent. Usually, this is the same person who is named executor of the will. Every state has guidelines as to who can be a “real party in interest” in this lawsuit, but the list usually includes:
Immediate Family: Spouses, children, and parents of unmarried persons
Financial Dependents: Life partners, domestic partners, putative spouses (good faith spouses)
Distant Family: Sisters, brothers, grandparents, etc.
Some states may allow anyone who suffers financially as a result of the death to bring a claim, regardless of their connection or relation to the victim. Additionally, parents of a deceased fetus may also have a wrongful death claim, depending on the circumstances of the death and the laws in their state. In the state of Illinois, a lawsuit may be filed by parents in the wrongful death of a fetus regardless of the age of the fetus or whether it has been born yet. Proof of direct cause must be provided, such as a medical expert validating that a fetal death was caused by a car accident at the fault of another driver.
A wrongful death lawyer can help you explore your options for filing a lawsuit and determine whether you have a case.
Who Can I Sue?
There are a number of people, organizations, and government agencies that can be held accountable in this type of lawsuit. Anyone who was involved in any part of the process or things involved in the accident can be held accountable, really. If your loved one dies as a result of a workplace accident involving faulty machinery, for example, you could file suit against:
-the equipment manufacturer
-the employee or maintenance team responsible for keeping the machine in good working order
-other employees involved in the accident
-supervisors or security personnel who could have prevented the accident
If you have proof of cause, you can really name just about anyone as a defendant in a wrongful death claim. If you aren’t sure who to focus on or what your best course of action will be, discuss your claim with a lawyer so that you can learn more about these lawsuits and what is going to give you the best possible outcome.
How Much Can I Get?
There are different categories of damages involved in a wrongful death claim. You can’t just file a lawsuit and pick a random number to sue for. You have to calculate all of the damages involved, which is where your lawyer will take over. They will work with expert witnesses and other sources to determine how much financial compensation they should seek on your behalf. The types of damage you can claim include:
Punitive damages are exactly what they sound like– punishment for the defendant. Some states don’t allow these damages to be claimed, or only allow them in certain circumstances. If something happens that is deemed excessively bad conduct or extreme circumstances, punitive damages may be sought.
Economic damages refer to the financial contributions that would have been made by victims if they had not died. These include funeral expenses and medical costs related to the death, as well as loss of income and benefits, and other related expenses. Essentially, if the victim were alive, any financial provisions they made would be recoverable.
These are intangible losses or damages. They can be harder to quantify to determine a dollar amount, but they are often more important than the economic damages for families and loved ones. This category includes:
-Pain and suffering or mental anguish
-Loss of guidance, nurturing, protection, and care from decedent
-Loss of spousal consortium
-Loss of society, companionship, and love
Interest Charges and Lawyers’ Fees
In some claims for wrongful death, the attorneys’ fees can be included in the lawsuit amount. There are also some cases where survivors can claim interest on the damages from the time of the incident until the case is settled.
All of these elements will be combined to determine the value of your lawsuit and help you arrive at an amount you are comfortable with.
Getting Help with Your Claim
If you or someone you know has lost someone to wrongful or accidental death, you deserve to get the justice and financial compensation you are owed. Specialized attorneys that focus on wrongful death claims are your best option, as they have unique and expert knowledge in this field due to their experience. Even if you aren’t sure whether you have a claim, contact Rockford wrongful death lawyers to discuss your case.