An Introduction to Wrongful Death


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Wrongful Death Standing

The first issue is to determine the identities of the rightful claimants. Not everyone can recover in a wrongful death situation. The law only gives standing to bring a wrongful death action to certain people, for example the surviving spouse, putative spouse, domestic partner, children, children of deceased children, financial dependents of the decedent, or those people who would be entitled to the property of the decedent under the rules of intestate succession (in other words, the people who would inherit the decedent's property if there was no will).


Wrongful Death Damages

The next issue is to determine the appropriate damages recoverable in the case. Under the law, a wrongful death claimant might be entitled to economic damages for lost support, medical expenses, anticipated gifts, funeral and burial expenses, as well as non-economic damages for the loss of the care, comfort, society, training, advice, protection, and companionship of their lost loved one. To properly document wrongful death cases, and to achieve the largest recovery possible, we employ economists, vocational counselors and other experts as needed.


Wrongful Death Litigation

Once the rightful claimants are determined, and once damages can be articulated, the next step is to initiate litigation. Statutes of limitation and other prerequisites to file actions will differ from state to state, and the best practice is to consult with local counsel.

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Related Topics

Intestacy and probate

Intestacy occurs if someone dies without a valid will. In this case, the estate goes to probate and is distributed according to the state's intestacy laws.

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