Losing a spouse because of someone else’s negligence is an immense tragedy for anyone to endure. While nothing can bring back a lost loved one, spouses do have the ability to pursue civil legal action by filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the party who should be held legally liable for the death.
What Instances Warrant a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When an individual passes away from what would have been considered a personal injury claim, then a spouse (or other qualified representative of the estate of the deceased individual) has the ability to file a wrongful death lawsuit. There are a variety of specific instances that could warrant this type of legal claim. A few examples include:
- An individual died because of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice can take many different forms. Maybe a surgeon was negligent during a procedure, and the wrong surgery was performed on the patient. Maybe the patient was not properly monitored after undergoing a routine medical procedure. Maybe a doctor failed to correctly diagnose the patient in a timely manner.
- An individual died in a car accident that was due to negligence. If a victim is killed in a car accident, a wrongful death claim may be filed if it is proven that other parties acted negligently – driving while impaired, texting while driving, etc.
- An individual died after suffering from an injury in the workplace. Workplace injuries can occur in a variety of ways. If there was a faulty piece of equipment or proper safety precautions were not in place, a wrongful death lawsuit may be a viable legal option.
- An individual was intentionally killed. One of the most prominent wrongful death lawsuits was that filed against OJ Simpson for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. While OJ Simpson was found not guilty in the criminal trial, a civil court jury found him guilty in a wrongful death judgment of $33.5 million.
How Can I Prove Fault for My Wrongful Death Claim?
To hold someone else liable for negligence that caused your spouse’s death, there are four elements that must be proven in the court of law – duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
- Duty refers to the notion that the defendant owed your spouse “due care.” For instance, if you lost your spouse because of a botched surgery, you can argue that the doctor failed to provide the appropriate and expected medical standard of care.
- Breach of duty is then addressed. Following the same example, this is where you would need to prove that the doctor failed to competently perform the surgery.
- Causation involves proving that the defendant’s negligence directly caused the death of your spouse. For example, proof would be necessary to indicate that the mistakes made during the surgery were the cause of death.
- Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit are obvious, as an individual has already lost his or her life because of someone else’s negligence or intent.
While you may know that someone else is responsible for your spouse’s death, this is where it becomes imperative to receive assistance from an experienced wrongful death attorney. In order to make the strongest case possible, you need a lawyer who knows how to gather and present the necessary evidence to prove the legitimacy of your wrongful death claim.
What Type of Financial Compensation Can I Receive?
As a spouse, you have the right to pursue legal damages in a wrongful death claim. The financial compensation you may seek can cover several different categories, including:
- Medical costs for your spouse that were associated with the fatal injury
- Pain and suffering that your spouse experienced before death
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Loss of your spouse’s income, both past and future
- Loss of companionship and love
How Can I Get Started with a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If you have lost your spouse because of someone else’s negligence, the first step is to consult with a wrongful death lawyer who knows how to handle a case like yours. Regardless of how much you already know about what happened, you need an attorney by your side to guide you through the legal process correctly and efficiently.
Ross Feller Casey is among the nation’s top wrongful death law firms, having won numerous, record-setting results for our clients in such cases. While no dollar amount will take away all the pain you have experienced through losing your spouse, the compensation can help ease any financial burdens you may be experiencing. For a free case evaluation and more information on filing a wrongful death lawsuit, contact the professionals at Ross Feller Casey.