A wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by an immediate family member or the appointed personal representative of the deceased's estate. Immediate family members include a surviving spouse, domestic partner, or children, grandchildren if the child is deceased.
2. Keep documents that support damages
o When a wrongful death occurs, the damages family members may be able to recover include the loss of: financial support, inheritance, future earning potential, companionship, parental guidance. In addition, medical and funeral expenses, pain and suffering may be included in damages.
o As much as possible, damages should be supported by documents. For instance, the age of the deceased can be supported by birth and death certificates. Also, loss of income can be supported by pay stubs and tax records.
o If the deceased is a child, damages may be calculated considering several factors including the age, health, earning potential, work expectancy, etc.
3. Be mindful of the time
o There is a limited amount of time after the death of a family member to file a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations varies in length. It may be a fixed time from when the decedent died, an amount of time from when the connection of cause of death was found or should have been found, or an amount of time from when the injury occurred or was discovered for medical malpractice.
o To make sure you do not miss your opportunity to file your claim, consult an attorney as soon as possible.
4. Is this the kind of death that an action can be brought?
o If a person dies as a result of another's negligence or intentionally harmful acts, a wrongful death claim may be prudent.
o Common types of wrongful deaths are from: medical malpractice, car or airplane accidents, nursing home abuse or neglect, and occupational exposure to hazardous conditions.
5. Consult an Attorney
A wrongful death suit may be complicated. To make sure you have every advantage, consult an attorney if you suspect your family member has died wrongfully.