When a loved one dies after a lingering illness, there is a deep sense of loss and grief, but the family has had time to prepare and to say goodbye. In the case of a wrongful death, none of that is true. The death is unexpected. Much worse, the death was unnecessary, putting an extra burden on those left behind. In addition to the grief, there is often a deep feeling of anger. They have suffered this tremendous and permanent loss only because someone else was careless and didn’t care.
The Principles of a Wrongful Death Case
A Wrongful Death Lawyer will need to prove these four general principles in a wrongful death claim. If there had been a personal injury case prior to the death, the wrongful death case would basically be a continuation of that prior case.
- The defendant was completely or partly responsible for the death.
- The defendant was negligent.
- As a result of the death, there have been monetary damages, both present and in the future.
- There are survivors who are entitled to compensation, including a spouse, children and/or other dependents.
Not all of the possible damages can be recovered in a wrongful death claim. The court may consider that some damages were not proven or are too speculative. However, any or all of these may be recoverable in a particular case and include:
- Medical and funeral costs
- The victim’s anticipated earnings until retirement or death
- Benefits such as a pension or medical coverage that were lost because of the death
- A lost inheritance
- The survivor’s loss of protection, care and companionship
- The survivor’s pain, suffering and mental anguish
- General damages
- Punitive damages (this requires a higher level of proof)
The negligence in a wrongful death case could be a result of a vehicle crash, medical malpractice, premises liability or product liability claims. Evidence used to prove the claim could include:
- Police reports
- Doctor, hospital and company records
- Medical bills
- Testimony from witnesses
James E. Hitchcock has many years of experience as a Wrongful Death Lawyer and fights aggressively for the rights of the survivors. His experience with other legal areas adds to his knowledge in wrongful death cases. Visit his website at Jamesehitchcock.com to learn more about how he can help in this tragic situation. You can also connect with them on Facebook.