Wrongful death cases refer to the death of someone as a result of another party’s negligence. When these cases occur, the victim’s family may be entitled to seek compensation through a wrongful death suit. Compensation claims are sought to help pay for medical expenses, funeral costs, lost earnings, in addition to compensation for pain and suffering.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

If someone dies because another party was at fault, this is a wrongful death case. Initial laws in the United States did not allow for these types of court cases, but the legal system has been adjusted over the past 100 years. Wrongful death cases are now somewhat common.

A wrongful death cases may involve a car accident, workplace accidents, medical negligence cases, and product liability suits. Cases can be filed against individuals, companies, governments, and entire groups of individuals.

Who is Allowed to Sue?

The victimized party is allowed to file a court case pertaining to wrongful death situations. These parties are usually the direct relatives of the person who passed away. For example, cases can be filed by spouses, children, parents, adopted children, and grand parents. Each state has specific laws pertaining to this issue.

There is also legal precedent for life partners and financial dependent to file these cases. For example, a couple may have been together for ten years but never got married. If one partner was wrongfully killed, the other may file a lawsuit. The partner would need to prove the extent of the relationship.

Monetary Suffering

Monetary suffering is usually the main factor that determines whether someone can file a wrongful death suit. Grand parents, brothers, sisters, even cousins who were financially dependent on someone are within their rights to file these cases. If no financial dependence can be proved, they must be part of the immediate family. For example, a non financially dependent grandparent who lived with the deceased would have more rights to file a case than a grandparent who lived 10,000 miles away.

Unborn Child

There are some states that allow parents to file a lawsuit if their unborn child passes away due to another party’s negligence. The fetus may die during a car accident or as a result of medical negligence. Not all states allow this, with some laws stating that wrongful death cases can only be filed if the child was born.

What Parties Can Be Sued?

The parties deemed responsible can vary from case to case. The responsible party may be a company, a person, a group of people, or a government agency. For example, let us consider a case where a car accident takes place. This accident happened because of a negligent driver and a fault in the road. Here are the legal possibilities for the case:

  • The driver who was behind the wheel of the other car can be sued.
  • The person responsible for designing and building the road is responsible.
  • The government agency that failed to warn citizens about hazardous spots on the road is responsible.
  • If the driver was drunk, the store/restaurant/bar that sold them the alcohol may be brought into the case.
  • If the driver was impaired because of tiredness, their employer may be sued for unsafe work practices.

As you can see, wrongful death situations can be complicated and may have many elements to consider. It is always wise to consult a legal professional when deciding to pursue a lawsuit for a wrongful death.

Government Immunity

There have been cases where government agents are deemed immune from being sued in civil court. Every state has their own laws pertaining to this issue. Some states will allow the suing of government agencies, while others limit lawsuits to other individuals or companies.

There is some controversy about this procedure, especially in cases where the city’s negligence resulted in a wrongful death. Such cases may be settled out of court, with the city providing compensation in order to avoid negative publicity.

Federal laws also exist to provide protection for medical device manufacturers, railroad companies and pharmaceutical companies. These laws are designed to prevent large financial lawsuits against these companies.

How we can help you

A wrongful death can be a tragic situation for a family to deal with. Although we all hope that no one is faced with a situation that may be considered a wrongful death, it is important to remember that these situations do occur.

Have You Been Injured In An Accident Virginia, Maryland or Washington D.C.?

If you've been hurt in an accident you need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Vienna, Virgnia office directly at 703.991.7978 or our Rockville, Maryland office at 301.637.5392 to schedule your case consultation.

Yuvora Nong
Helping VA, MD & Washington D.C. clients with all of their immigration law legal needs since 1997.