Is Wrongful Death A Personal Injury?
Wrongful death refers to a specific type of personal injury case in which the injured party passes away, making the family members or estate of the deceased the recipient of compensation. Thus, wrongful death is a type of personal injury case.
Like other personal injury cases, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court to ask for compensation when someone’s negligence caused injury to your family member.
If you have lost a close family member due to another party’s negligence, you may qualify for a legal remedy for both economic and noneconomic losses, such as a loss of companionship and support.
When A Wrongful Death Claim Applies
When a person’s death results from the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract of another person, the survivors or the estate of the deceased person may bring a civil lawsuit.
Only the personal representative named in the deceased’s will may bring the wrongful death lawsuit. If no will or estate plan exists or lists a personal representative, the court will appoint one. The claim also must clearly list the deceased person’s estate, any surviving family members, and every survivor who has an interest in the case.
Family members who may recover awards include:
- The deceased person’s spouse, children, and parents.
- A blood relative or adoptive sibling who remains partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services.
Children born to unmarried parents can recover awards in a wrongful death through a personal injury case if their mother dies or if the father had formally recognized and contributed to the child’s support.
Awards You May Receive
Awards you may receive include compensation for both economic and noneconomic losses. Surviving family members may receive compensation for:
- Support and services from the deceased.
- Loss of companionship, guidance, and protection.
- Mental and emotional pain and suffering.
- Medical or funeral expenses paid by survivors.
Compensation for the deceased’s estate may include:
- Lost wages and benefits.
- Loss of earnings the estate may have reasonably received in the future.
- Medical and funeral expenses paid by the estate.
If the party who caused the death acted in an intentional or reckless manner, you may also qualify for punitive awards.
Providing Evidence In A Wrongful Death Case Via A Personal Injury Suit
Because wrongful death is a type of personal injury, you will have to prove that the other person or entity failed to use the reasonable care that an average person would use under the same circumstances. You or a lawyer must prove that this person’s negligence resulted in the death of your loved one. Your wrongful death lawyer must show that the following elements exist:
- The defendant acted in a reckless and negligent way or acted in a way that amounts to a wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty.
- This negligent conduct caused the death of your loved one.
- The deceased person would have qualified to recover awards in a personal injury lawsuit if the death had not occurred.
Some examples of negligent conduct include:
- Medical malpractice by a doctor who failed to diagnose a serious illness.
- A criminal act such as a murder during a robbery.
- An automobile accident caused by a drunk driver.
- A defective medical implant that caused a fatal infection.
If the victim of these acts had lived, the victim would file a personal injury case. If the victim died from the same acts, the survivors can file a wrongful death case through a personal injury.
Time Limits For A Wrongful Death Case
When a death occurs, family members generally have two years to file the lawsuit in court after the date of death. Some exceptions that may change the time period include:
- Medical malpractice.
- Homicides and murder.
- Government entity.
For minor children, the two-year statute of limitations starts to count down when they reach 18 years old.