About Wrongful Death Claims
Brought in a civil action, these types of cases are typically filed by spouses, children and parents of family members who have died as the result of negligence, carelessness or recklessness of another.
The standard of proof for a wrongful death attorney in most wrongful death cases is “to a preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that the finder of fact must only determine whether the evidence presented is convincing enough to link the death to an act or omission of the Defendant.
This is in contrast to the criminal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and means that economic recovery is sometimes available even when no criminal sanction is imposed. Thus, it is typically easier to seek retribution against someone who kills a family member through a civil wrongful death action, rather than through criminal prosecution.
Of course, the trick is recognizing when another person can be held responsible for a death.
There are many different scenarios wherein a loved one might die unexpectedly at work or in a hospital.
Often, their death is the result of another person’s negligence and a wrongful death lawsuit may be in order. Wrongful death cases include: catastrophic injuries resulting from negligence; criminal attacks; deaths resulting from negligent supervision, such as at a nursing home; medical mistakes or malpractice; automotive, nautical, and aeronautical accidents; slip and fall accidents; work-related exposure to dangerous conditions or substances; poisonings; drowning; fire and burn-related incidents; and failures to act by police, fire, and other state agencies.
The Law Provides Specific Rules
Due to statutory restrictions, wrongful death cases are typically filed at a time when survivors of the deceased are overwhelmed with emotions. This is one of the primary reasons to retain an attorney early in the process. A good attorney will assist you through this trying time, and make sure that your rights are protected throughout the process.
The law provides specific rules for wrongful death cases, and the actual determination of case value, settlement strategy and the decision to resolve the case or move forward with a trial should be made with the advice of competent legal counsel. Damages in cases like these are based on pecuniary (or economic) losses as well as non-economic damages such as loss of enjoyment of life, or pain and mental suffering.
When the case goes to court, damages will be determined based on the pecuniary injury as well as non-economic damages. The plaintiff in wrongful death cases is also entitled to the loss of services including house upkeep, repair, and maintenance, gardening, auto maintenance, driving, shopping, cooking, laundry. The award of damages will include interest from the date the family member died. When an award is made from a wrongful death claim, a jury is limited to making a lump sum award. The judge will then disburse the funds among the respective claimants.
Financial compensation for many wrongful death claims is based on the age of the deceased and any spouses or heirs at time of death; as well as the health of the deceased prior to death; the life expectancies of the deceased and each heir; the disposition of the deceased to contribute financially to the support of the heirs; whether the deceased was kindly, affectionate or otherwise; the earnings capacity of the deceased; the deceased’s habits of industry and thrift; and any other facts shown by the evidence which indicate what benefits each heir might have expected to receive from the deceased if he had lived. In formulating an amount the jury may examine actual earnings, earnings capacity, potential retirement income, and pensions or social security benefits that the deceased could have incurred over the course of his or her life. Additionally, plaintiffs in wrongful death cases are entitled to non-economic damages such as the loss of household services provided by the deceased, which can include such things as domestic upkeep, repair, maintenance, garden work, auto maintenance, driving services, shopping, cooking, laundry, counseling, society, and affection. Of course, the award of damages will include interest from the date the family member died.
Because a jury is limited to making a lump sum award in wrongful death cases it is important to have an experienced attorney who can identify everything you can receive compensation for, and ensure that your rights are protected. The Davis Kelin Law Firm has handled wrongful death cases in the past and knows what juries will award to survivors and we would be honored to represent you, and the memory of your loved one, through this trying time.