What Are The Three Elements Of A Wrongful Death Claim?


If your family member passed away and you believe that his or her death occurred due to someone else's intentional acts or carelessness, then you might be able to file a wrongful death suit against the responsible party. However, the process of filing a wrongful death suit can be long and complicated. Before you pursue this route, you'll want to make sure you have a legitimate claim. Here's a look at the four elements a case must have in order to be considered a valid wrongful death claim.

1. The person you are making the claim against acted either negligently or intentionally to cause the death of your family member.

There are two basic ways in which the responsible party could be said to have caused the death. The first is though negligence. In a legal sense, the term negligence means that the person failed to act in a manner that would be expected from a reasonable person in the given circumstances. For example, if your family member's caregiver showed up to the home and found him clutching his chest in pain but failed to call emergency services -- and your family member ended up dying of a heart attack, that caregiver could be said to be negligent. A reasonable, rational person would have called emergency services, but the caregiver neglected to do so.

You can also make a wrongful death claim against someone whose direct actions led to your family member's death. For example, if your family member is allergic to a certain medication and that fact is clearly printed on her medical charts, but a doctor administered that medication anyways and your family member died of an allergic reaction, you could make a wrongful death case against the doctor.

2. There are living beneficiaries of the deceased. (And you're one of them.)

Basically, when you are filing a wrongful death case, you are claiming that you, as a beneficiary of the deceased, have suffered a loss because of the wrongful death of your family member. If you are not a beneficiary of the deceased, you cannot file a wrongful death suit. In most cases, only immediate family members of the deceased are considered beneficiaries. If the person who died left no beneficiaries, a wrongful death claim can not be made.

3. The victim's death has caused monetary loss for the beneficiaries.

A wrongful death claim is not a criminal case; it's a civil one. Civil hinge on the premise that the prosecutor has suffered a monetary loss because of the actions of the defense. In the case of a wrongful death claim, you are essentially claiming that because of the individual's death, you and the other beneficiaries have lost out financially. If you cannot prove that the family member's death caused you financial loss, then you don't have a case.

Now, it's important to note that financial loss in wrongful death cases can take many forms:

  • Medical expenses incurred by the deceased as a result of the injuries that led to their death. (Assuming the money used to pay these bills would have otherwise remained in the deceased's estate and have been distributed to the beneficiaries.)
  • Wages the deceased will now be unable to earn and offer as support to the beneficiaries. (Such as if a parent dies and his or her children are now left without the financial support the parents would have offered through earnings from a job.)
  • Funeral expenses that the beneficiaries incurred as a result of the death.

Every case is different. If you have expenses that you feel were incurred because of your family members' wrongful death, or if you believe the death extracted money from the estate that would have otherwise been yours, speak with a lawyer. They can analyze your unique situation and let you know if you can make a claim for those damages.

Filing a wrongful death suit is very complex, and the rules vary by state. In general, however, if someone acted negligently or on purpose to cause the death of an immediate family member and that death led to a financial loss, you have the beginnings of a case and it is worthwhile to at least contact a lawyer.


11 March 2016

Investing in Your Children’s Futures

I was blessed to have grown up in a home with loving supportive parents. They both worked extremely hard in order for me and my sister to enjoy a better life than they had. Financially, they bought me a new car when I was sixteen. They also paid for my college expenses. Many parents do the same for their kids. They want to provide for them in the present while safeguarding their futures. One way parents can invest in their kids’ futures is by placing money in trusts that their children can utilize when they reach a certain age. A reputable attorney can establish beneficial trusts for your kids. On this blog, you will learn about the benefits of consulting with an attorney about setting up trusts for your children.