Wrongful Death? 4 Things To Consider Before Filing A Case

Posted on: 14 October 2020

The loss of a loved one for any reason is a life-changing event capable of bringing lasting sorrow. However, when there is a reason to believe that the cause of death could have been prevented, the sorrow can easily transition into a desire to find some type of legal justice for the loss.

One way in which this type of justice is often sought is through the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit. Since many people may not be personally familiar with this type of legal procedure, the following information can be helpful for those who now find themselves interested in considering this action. 

Civil, not criminal

The first point to know is that criminal charges are not part of a civil wrongful death lawsuit. While true that criminal charges may also have resulted from the death, depending on the circumstances, they generally have no bearing on the filing or outcome of a wrongful death case. 

Related to some type of neglect

In order to be successful, wrongful death filings usually show some type of neglect capable of causing or contributing to an untimely death. The neglect may be a direct action, such as when a driver runs a stop sign and strikes a pedestrian causing a fatality. In other cases, the neglect may less direct, such as when a manufacturer produces a drug or product that results in death to one or more consumers. 

Next of kin are qualified filers

A wrongful death lawsuit cannot be filed in every case, even if your relationship with the decedent was close. For instance, many states require the filer to be a direct relative, such as a parent, spouse, or child. In a limited number of states, less closely related parties, such as grandparents, may be legally able to file this type of case.

More distant relatives or even the closest of friends are typically restricted from filing a wrongful death lawsuit. In many cases, wrongful death lawsuits are meant to help those whose lives are financially impacted by the loss of a loved one, such as that of a dependent child or spouse. 

Statutes of limitations can apply

It is also important to note that statutes of limitations should apply for wrongful death filings. In most states, the time frame is relatively short for the initial filing but can last up to a few years from the date of the loss. 

To learn more about wrongful death lawsuits, including the court process and what burden of proof will be needed, it is important to seek the advice of a qualified attorney. Contact a wrongful death lawyer for more information.  


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