Wrongful death claim

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Wrongful death is a claim against a person who may be held liable for another person's death.[1] A wrongful death lawsuits may be based on claims of negligence, misconduct, or a criminal act such as murder.

If the person accused of causing a wrongful death is charged with a crime, the wrongful death lawsuit may be filed after a criminal trial.[1][2] It is possible to win a wrongful death lawsuit even if the person is acquitted of a crime that caused the death, because even though both trials may use the same evidence a wrongful death case has a lower standard of proof.[1][2]

The claim is brought in a civil action, usually by close relatives, based on tort laws.[3] Common law did not allow for wrongful deatlh lawsuits, as the right to bring a wrongful death claim belonged to the deceased person and died along with that person. In the United States, state and federal laws now allow for wrongful death cases in all U.S.jurisdictions.[3]

Damages[change | change source]

In law, damages are an award of compensation, usually of money, paid to a person who has suffered a loss or injury.[1][2] Damages for wrongful death may include:[4]

Some states also allow recovery of punitive damages, an additional award that is intended to reform or deter the defendant and others from doing the same thing again. When available, punitive damages are normally awarded only for the most extreme cases, involving gross negligence, recklessness or intentional acts that result in death.[1]

Sources[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Larson, Aaron. "What is a Wrongful Death Claim". ExpertLaw.com. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Wrongful Death Overview". FindLaw. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Wrongful Death Claims: An Overview". NOLO. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  4. Judicial Council of California. "3921. California Civl Jury Instructions: Wrongful Death (Death of an Adult)". Justia. Retrieved 7 June 2017.