Experienced Trial Attorneys Fighting for the Injured
Understanding a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Understanding a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

When someone dies because of the misconduct or negligence of another person, the surviving person’s family can make a claim of wrongful death. Most wrongful death cases are similar to criminal trials but require a lower standard of proof. For example, former actor and football star O.J. Simpson was not guilty in the murder case of 1994, since the prosecution could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that he was guilty. However, in a separate trial, he was found guilty for two victims’ wrongful death, because the plaintiffs presented proof of his guilt through a preponderance of evidence. The following are some of the basic elements of a wrongful death lawsuit.

What You Must Prove in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

When filing wrongful death claims, survivors must show that:

  • The defendant (one being sued) caused the death (in part or completely) of the victim
  • The defendant is either responsible for the victim’s death through negligence or strict liability
  • The spouse, beneficiaries or dependents of the victim are alive
  • The victim’s death has resulted in monetary losses, hence the need for compensation

Types of Cases Involving Wrongful Death

A claim of wrongful death arises when a victim, who would have sustained a personal injury, dies because of the negligence or unintentional actions of the defendant. Some of the situations involving wrongful death include:

  • When a victim is killed intentionally
  • When a victim dies due to medical malpractice
  • When a victim dies from a car accident caused by negligence

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

The representative of a deceased victim’s estate is the person who usually initiates a wrongful death claim. The representative makes this claim on behalf of the beneficiaries or survivors of the victim. The definition of a victim’s survivors is different depending on where you are.

In all states, spouses can file wrongful death claims on behalf of their deceased spouses. The parents of minors can also file wrongful death claims against the death of their children. Minors are also allowed to get compensation for their parent’s death.

However, many states tend to disagree on the issue of whether adult children or parents of adult children can sue for wrongful death claims. The issue of whether extended relatives like cousins, uncles, aunts, or grandparents can be allowed to sue for wrongful death is also a matter of jurisdiction. In most cases, the more distant relatives of the deceased find it hard to benefit from wrongful death claims. In certain states, the deceased’s life partner, or anyone that can prove monetary dependence on a deceased person, can claim compensation in wrongful death cases.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim

There are three types of damages that survivors can recover in a wrongful death claim. They include:

Economic Damages

This is the value of financial assistance the victim would have provided to the survivors if he/she were alive. Economic damages include:

  • Loss of the expected earnings of the victim
  • Loss of benefits like medical coverage or pension plans of the victim
  • Loss of inheritance due to the unexpected death of the victim

Non-economic Damages

These are less tangible damages but are often more valuable than economic damages. Non-economic damages include:

  • Loss of the protection, care, advice, guidance, nurturing, and training from the deceased
  • Loss of companionship, society, and love from the deceased
  • Damages due to the pain and suffering or mental anguish endured by the deceased’s survivors

Punitive Damages

These damages are given to punish the defendant for his/her conduct. While some states do not award these damages in wrongful death claims, in some cases, treble damages may be recovered. Treble damages are three times the actual damages and are mainly recovered against elderly homes for the abuse or death of senior victims.

Think you have a wrongful death lawsuit on your hands? Talk to one of our experienced attorneys about the possibility of filing suit for these and other reasons.

  • Georgia trial Lawyers Association
  • Primerus Member
  • The National Trial Lawyers
  • Lexis Nexis Martindale Hubbell Peer Review Rated
  • Avvo Rating 10 Superb
  • American Association for Justice
  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Melvin M Belli Society

Why Hire Tate Law Group?

Your Case Deserves the Best Possible Legal Care
  • Advocates for Change

    We leverage our litigation experience to advocate for positive change in our community & across the nation, including taking a proactive role in the opioid crisis.

  • Committed to Excellence

    The Tate Law Group is an award-winning, nationally-recognized firm with memberships in the Milion Dollar Advocates Forum, the International Society of Primerus Law Firms & more.

  • Fearless Advocacy

    The Tate Law Group is not afraid to do whatever it takes to advocate for the full & fair compensation you deserve, including going to trial.

  • Record-Setting Results

    The Tate Law Group has fought for many successful verdicts & settlements, including many record-setting results in Georgia & South Carolina.

  • Trial Experience

    We have litigated hundreds of cases and recovered damages totalling over $100 million for our clients in numerous courts of law since 2007.

  • Available & Accessible

    We are available to hear about your case over the phone or in-person, so schedule a free consultation today. There is no fee unless we win.

Successful Verdicts & Settlements

Millions of Dollars Recovered for the Injured
  • Tractor Trailer Injury $19,000,000
  • Nationwide Pharmaceutical Liability Resolution $18,000,000
  • Georgia Industrial Disaster Recovery $13,100,000
  • Chatham County Jury Verdict $10,000,000
  • Nationwide Pharmaceutical Liability Resolution $5,000,000
  • Nationwide Pharmaceutical Liability Resolution $5,000,000
  • Medical Malpractice Verdict $3,900,000
  • Personal Injury Involving Traumatic Brain Injuries $2,300,000
  • Maine Wrongful Death Recovery $2,200,000
  • Florida Wrongful Death Recovery $2,100,000

Get Your Free Consultation

We Look Forward to Meeting You
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.