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Wrongful death lawsuits are based on the assumption that the defendant either had the intent to harm the deceased, or their negligent behavior caused the fatality. In these cases, the fatality is not the result of just an unfortunate accident.
When a victim dies from their injuries, their family or surviving heirs have the right to start a legal claim to collect monetary damages from the accountable party. By reviewing the basics of a wrongful death lawsuit, families learn what to do after a loved one dies.
The Findings of an Autopsy
If a family intends to file a wrongful death lawsuit, the findings of an autopsy that shows the exact cause of death must be included in the legal claim. In some states, victims who die as a result of auto accidents are required by law to undergo an autopsy to rule out alternative causes of death instead of the accident injuries.
A licensed pathologist or the county medical examiner completes the autopsy and explains the victim’s cause of death. Families who need advice about your wrongful death lawsuit get started by contacting an attorney now.
Identify the Defendant
Before the family can file a legal claim, they need evidence that identifies the accountable party and connects them to the victim’s injuries and the event that caused the injuries. For example, in an auto accident, the at-fault driver who collided with the victim’s vehicle is the defendant and caused the victim’s death.
To prove that the fatality is a wrongful death, the evidence must show that the at-fault driver was intoxicated, under the influence of controlled substances, intended to kill the victim with their vehicle, or is guilty of a serious moving violation that caused the accident.
Avoiding Forfeiture of Rights
In the state of California, all families have a two-year window to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Since the lawsuit is based on the fatality and not the event that caused the injuries, the plaintiff must file before the second anniversary of the victim’s death. If they do not file before the deadline, a forfeiture of their right to sue or collect compensation happens.
The Nature of the Event That Caused the Fatality
The nature of the event that caused the victim’s death is another major consideration in a wrongful death lawsuit. If the victim died during the commission of a crime, the defendant faces a criminal case in the criminal court, and the family can file a lawsuit in the civil court. If the case is based on negligence and not a direct action, the family must prove how the defendant is liable for the victim’s death through evidence submitted with the lawsuit.
What Type of Compensation Could the Family Receive?
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the family may receive compensation for financial losses such as the victim’s medical expenses and funeral costs. If the family was supported by the victim, non-economic damages are possible such as the loss of financial support or consortium.
Wrongful death claims indicate that the defendant is accountable for the victim’s death via indirect or direct actions. If the person didn’t harm the victim directly, the family must prove how the person’s negligence caused the victim’s death. By reviewing all the basics of a wrongful death lawsuit, families discover what to do after a loved one dies due to no fault of their own.
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