You may be entitled to bring a wrongful death lawsuit if someone has died and the death can be shown to be the fault of a person or an institution such as a manufacturer. The purpose of such suits is to try to get compensation for the losses incurred as a result of the death, such as lost wages, loss of companionship and medical and funeral costs.
More about Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Statutes allowing wrongful death lawsuits were once rare, but now all 50 states allow some form of wrongful death lawsuits. They generally cover any type of fatal mishap from car accidents to medical malpractice to product liability. Whether it involves a person, a company or a government agency, if someone was killed because of the intentional or negligent actions of another, then a wrongful death claim is possible.
To file a wrongful death claim you must have a direct tie to the deceased. That usually includes family members like husbands, wives, children or the parents of unmarried children. Depending on the state, also included may be life partners and financial dependents who do not otherwise have legal or family ties to the deceased. In general anyone who can show they have suffered some financial loss could have grounds for a wrongful death suit.
As for those who are being sued, these may be someone responsible for a car accident, someone who designed or built a faulty product, someone who failed to provide adequate warning of foreseeable hazards, or someone who gave alcohol to an already intoxicated person, including the person who owns the premises where the alcohol was served.
The amount of damages you can collect vary according to state. Some states put caps on malpractice claims and others allow punitive damages on top of any actual financial losses. There can also be issues that can be hard to put a price tag on, such as mental anguish and suffering. The compensation received for these more abstract losses can actually surpass any actual out of pocket expenses incurred. Generally there are time limits to how long after the wrongful death you have to bring suit, which in most states is two years.
Because wrongful death lawsuits can be complicated with laws that vary from state to state, the best thing to do is to consult an attorney as soon as you feel you have grounds for a case.