What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A ‘wrongful death’ case is a civil lawsuit based on the occurrence when one person(s) or defective product, causes the death of another person(s). In this situation the survivors of the person(s) that was killed can bring a lawsuit against the person(s) that caused the death of the other(s), or against the entity(s) involved in the making of (and possibly the sale of) the defective product.
If was the act of another person (or persons) that caused the death(s), such an act could have been intentional, reckless, gross negligence, or merely negligent. Additionally, if it was a defective product that caused the death(s), there may be negligent behavior holding the entity liable. Or depending on the circumstances, it may be found that gross-negligent behavior was involved. There can be, but doesn’t have to be, a criminal prosecution case against the person(s) who caused the death(s). If criminal prosecution is in the process, depending on the timing and the situation, it may be of great benefit for the timing of the civil suit to follow the timing and outcome of the criminal action. Because the level of proof is much higher in a criminal action (beyond a reasonable doubt) versus the level required in a civil action (preponderance of the evidence), it would best to speak with one of our attorneys to decide if such timing strategy is recommended.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Action?
Usually family members that were dependents of and survive the deceased, have standing to bring, and are proper Plaintiffs in, a wrongful-death suit. A wrongful-death claim is an available remedy which attempts to provide restitution to those survivors who suffer a current and future financial loss caused by the death of their loved one. A Wrongful-Death claim compensates the survivors of the deceased for their losses. It does not compensate survivors for costs the deceased suffered prior to death (medical bills, property damage, lost income, etc.). A representative of the estate of the deceased would bring a “survival action” on behalf of the deceased.
The priorities of plaintiffs would be: 1) a surviving spouse, the if there is no surviving spouse, 2) surviving offspring (child/children), 3) step-children, 4) dependent parent(s), 5) parents (whether dependent or not), 6) brother or sister of the deceased, 7) the offspring of a brother or sister 8) the grand-parents of the deceased, 9) next of kin, 10) a representative of the estate of the deceased.
Grief Can Be Debilitating and Fatally Delay Action
One of the most heart-breaking things that can happen is for those loved ones that are survivors of the deceased and have standing to bring an action, to be so stricken with grief for so long that the window to take action expires. The obstacles can be insurmountable if when the survivors decide to take action to seek restitution from the person(s) that can be held accountable, vital evidence or witnesses are no longer available, or the deadline has passed and the statute of limitations has run. However, all it takes is one phone call to the Law Offices of Gregory Montegna (619) 691-1500 and we can do the rest and can make sure that your rights are protected and preserved.
A wrongful-death lawsuit may include expert reports and testimony regarding what the victim’s life expectancy was and what that life could have been like had the accident never happened. The expert(s) may research and include the health of the victim prior to the accident; their occupation; their work history, and what their future earning potential was. An expert will also likely research and include how the victim provided for the family, how s/he provided guidance, assistance and protection to the survivor(s). The expert may research the deceased’s hobbies and activities that have been lost as a result of the accident. Some of this information may be more difficult (or impossible) to get the more time that passes after the event. Not only do we respect the memory of the victim, we will also protect and fight for the rights of the survivors and get you everything you deserve.
The Most Frequent Events Which Causes the Death of Someone
- Car Crash
- Slip and Fall
- Accidentally Ingesting Poison or a Poisonous Substance
- Choking on Food
- A House-Fire which causes fatal burns or smoke inhalation
The award in a wrongful-death action may include:
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages, and
- (if warranted) Punitive damages
As you can see, there are many factors that can play an important role in the outcome of a wrongful-death case. Additionally, time is of the essence. Memories fade and evidence can get lost or witnesses can become unavailable.
Free Consultation and Case Review, and there are no attorney’s fees unless we win your case.
Call the Law Offices of Gregory A. Montegna at your earliest convenience. We can answer your questions and give you an idea of the value of your case. We can talk with you over the phone, you are welcome to come into our offices, or we can meet you and your family at a location convenient to you.