Wrongful Death Claims: 7 Things You Should Know

A wrongful death is usually caused by someone’s recklessness or incompetence. Examples of wrongful deaths might be a medical professional administering the wrong dosage of drug to a patient, a nursing home abuse, auto accidents, etc.

These situations could cut really deep into the hearts of the loved ones of the deceased causing them to suffer stress, monetary loss and physical and emotional breakdown. Therefore, filing a lawsuit becomes necessary as it would be their only compensation for the lost companionship, wages and funeral expenses.

Here are 7 things you should now about a wrongful death claim.

1. Statute of limitations

Although it varies in different states but generally the statute of limitations for wrongful death is 2 years. That is, the lawsuit must be filed within 2 years of the alleged wrongful death, or you lose the right to sue. Though there might be exceptions to some cases based on certain circumstances such as the child of the decedent being a minor, the state the act occurred, the negligence occurring in a government institute, and so on.

2. Eligibility to file a wrongful death lawsuit

Usually the next of kin of the decedent are the ones eligible to file the claim, and they include the spouse’s children and parents and in some rare cases the grandparents of the deceased. A minor might require the help of a legal custodian in managing a wrongful death claim on his/her behalf.

The lawsuit can only be filed by one person known as the personal representative, but this doesn’t mean he/she has the exclusive right to the damages paid. Everyone the wrongful death of the deceased might have caused some losses in various ways may all also be entitled to the damages paid.

3. Contact a wrongful death attorney

A good wrongful death attorney will answer all the questions you have about the lawsuit and will better understand the process. He/she will help in collecting evidence for the case and use it in constructing a persuasive court case.

Grieving is hard enough especially having to do it while filing for a lawsuit. Sherwin Arzani of the Citywide Law Group advises that you leave the filing to a competent attorney that will put whatever anxiety you’re having about the situation to rest, and allow you focus on grieving while he works on you getting the proper compensation you deserve.

4. Damages

On filing for a wrongful death lawsuit, you might get justice in form of damages. There are basically financial and punitive damage. Financial damages relate to things such as medical costs and the wages the deceased would have earned had they been alive, while punitive damages are meant for punishing the guilty party for their negligence.

5. Duration of case

Most times, wrongful death cases are usually settled even before a trial and some are settled before a lawsuit filing. However, it usually takes a long time of commitment and patience on the part of the plaintiff to see the wrongful death claim come to fruition.

6. Extending the time limit of the statute of limitations period

Don’t run out of hope when the statute of limitations period elapses as there are still some last resorts, like having the lawsuit waived by the court or the opposing party, or better still, tolling the statute of limitations.

Although it’s very unlikely that a request to waiver the lawsuit from the opposing party will be met with a positive response, but nevertheless, it could be worth the try. Also, the court only waivers when the situation is critical, which rarely ever happens.

7. The Discovery Rule

The discovery rule is a rule that may be applied in determining if the deceased knew of the cause of his injury or illness before his death so the limitation period can be put into action before the deceased’s death.

In applying it to wrongful death claims, sometimes the deceased might have suffered an injury which might not have been known to him/her for months or years till it causes death. And sometimes the cause of a wrongful death might not be discovered until months or years later. However, If an injury directly contributes to the death of the deceased then the statute of limitations may begin at the time of the injury or further still, the discovery time.

Cases like this are mostly caused by dangerous products causing harm to the consumer.

Losing a loved one is a very painful experience, and knowing the death was avoidable could be more painful. Knowing these 7 things can however help you in making the decision of whether to file a lawsuit or not.


Jimmy Rohampton is a freelance writer, blogger and business consultant from Southwest London. He travels the world and helps people master blogging and online marketing at HowToCreateABlog.org. Think you're interesting and he should know you? Say "Hi" to him at Jimmy@HowToCreateABlog.org

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