Seven Facts You Need To Know About Wrongful Death Suits
If you've lost a loved one, you may be wondering if you can bring forth a wrongful death suit. The laws vary from state to state, and ultimately, you need to contact an attorney who is familiar with the laws in your area. However, first, you may want to check out this list of facts about wrongful death.
1. Wrongful Death Due to Medical Malpractice Is Extremely Common
According to some estimates, wrongful death due to medical malpractice is the third most common cause of death in the United States. If you included all wrongful deaths in that statistic, the numbers would likely be sobering. While it's impossible to say for sure, if you count all instances of wrongful deaths, they may even become the most common cause of death in the country.
2. Someone Needs to Be Negligent
In order for there to be a wrongful death suit, someone needs to be negligent. Accidents happen, and if your loved one died in an accident, there may be no way to get compensation. If you want to pursue a wrongful death suit, you need to be able to find a person, a company, or another entity that is responsible for the death.
3. Only Certain Parties Can Bring Forward Wrongful Death Suits
Not just anyone can bring forward a wrongful death suit, and the laws vary from state to state. In some states, only the spouse or children of the deceased can bring forward a suit. In other states, a representative of the estate needs to bring forward the suit. If you consult with an attorney, they can let you know if you have the right to bring forward this type of claim.
4. Death at Work May Not Be Wrongful Death
If someone dies while at work, you may not be able to bring forward a wrongful death suit at all. However, you may be able to make a claim through your state's workers' compensation program. That program tends to cover funeral expenses and last medical expenses when someone has died on the job.
If you were financially dependent on that individual, you may also be entitled to some wage replacement payments. However, the tradeoff with this coverage is that you waive your right to sue the employer. There are some exceptions such as in cases of assault, and your lawyer can cover those instances with you.
5. Wrongful Death Payouts Can Be Awarded After the Death of the Plaintiff
In some cases, wrongful death compensation can even be paid after the plaintiff has died. In one notable case, two children tried to bring a wrongful death suit forward. The children had watched their parents and siblings burn to death in their vehicle after hitting a truck illegally stopped on the side of the road.
Part of the final compensation was earmarked for one of the plaintiffs, but he actually died of suicide before the trial began. Even though he had died, the money passed to his sister.
6. You Can Bring Wrongful Death Suits Against Prisons
Although it's difficult to bring a wrongful death suit against an employer, you can actually bring a wrongful death suit against a prison or the companies it contracts with. In fact, in a case in California, the children of a deceased prisoner brought a suit forward against the healthcare provider that took care of patients in a particular prison.
The judge determined that the healthcare provider did not take adequate care of the patient. As a result, the children were awarded $8.3 million.
7. Wrongful Death Payouts Are Increasing
According to some estimates, the amounts awarded in wrongful death suits are increasing. There are multiple reasons for this. Some people assume that it's because juries and judges know that entertainers and CEOs of large corporations are making millions, and they are keeping those amounts in mind when making decisions on claims.