If a loved one has passed away as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. The following are a few frequently asked questions — and answers from our attorneys — about these types of civil claims:
Q: What is a wrongful death suit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a claim filed against a person or entity believed to be legally responsible for causing another person’s death. Causes could include negligence or carelessness, poorly designed or manufactured products, reckless or grossly negligent acts or intentional acts.
Q: Can anyone file a wrongful death suit?
In most cases, only spouses, children or anyone else who directly depended on the deceased for financial and/or emotional support is able to file a wrongful death claim.
Q: How do courts determine the amount of damages in wrongful death claims?
Court officials will take into account factors such as the amount of financial support the deceased would have provided in life, the loss of emotional support to the survivors, the cost of funeral and burial expenses and the cost of medical treatment needed due to the injury in question before death. Future earnings and potential losses are often determined by testimony from expert witnesses.
Q: How does wrongful death differ from murder?
Murder is a criminal charge handled by the state, and if found guilty, the defendant faces significantly more serious penalties. There is also an element of intent and premeditation in murder that does not exist in wrongful death claims. While a person might be liable or have acted in an intentional way, it doesn’t mean he or she meant to kill the person.
To learn more about wrongful death claims, work with a dedicated San Diego injury lawyer at Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire.