Losing a loved one to someone else’s negligence is a beyond devastating experience. While practical matters may be the last thing on your mind, it’s important to pursue legal action against the responsible party. Not only can this provide justice for such a senseless act, it can also help you cover burial expenses or medical costs resulting from the catastrophe. The Balance explains some of the basic components of a wrongful death suit.
First, you should determine whether you’re eligible to file suit on behalf of a loved one. This can vary from state to state, although in all states the surviving spouse and children are permitted to file suit. In other states, the extended family is also allowed to file a civil claim. If you’re unsure of whether you’re permitted to file, it’s best to speak with an attorney with experience handling wrongful death cases.
From there, you’ll need to determine whether your suit has merit. This entails establishing that your loved one’s death was caused by another person’s negligence. This is often the case with car accidents or accidents happening within a place of work. Be aware that if it’s determined that your family member played a role in the accident, chances are your suit won’t be successful. Next, you’ll need to show that you experienced damages as a result of the person’s death.
There are many types of damages you’re allowed to pursue in a wrongful death case. For instance, damages can cover burial expenses, loss of income, medical costs related to end-of-life care, and pain and suffering. You may also pursue punitive damages, which are assessed to deter similar types of negligent behavior. However, punitive damages are not applicable in all states.