Wrongful death lawsuits are some of the most tragic cases I handle. Because they are typically filed by immediate family members of the deceased, my team and I support individuals who are in a heartbreaking state of grief and emotional distress. Seeking justice for these people is the most important aspect of my career — it is why I do what I do.
Why Clients File Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death claims are usually filed by the surviving spouse/domestic partner, and/or the surviving children: people who relied on the deceased person emotionally, financially, or for care and nurturing. If the death was due to an accident, the sudden impact to the family is especially devastating. And if they are contacting me, it is because the people who caused the death are unwilling to take appropriate responsibility. The damages sought serve very real needs:
- Pecuniary (economic) damages, to recover direct costs imposed by the wrongful death, including funeral expenses, lost wages and financial support, etc.
- Noneconomic damages for mental anguish, psychological distress, and the loss of society, love, companionship, guidance, or nurture.
- Punitive damages to punish the defendant for their actions or negligence.
- Survival actions filed on behalf of the decedent’s estate to recover damages suffered by the decedent between their injury and death.
Benefits of Wrongful Death Claims
As the term “wrongful death” implies, these cases are about rectifying egregious or dangerous situations, whether intentional or negligent.
An intentional wrongful death would be considered murder or manslaughter in the criminal justice system. But for survivors who file a separate case in civil court, there is a lower burden of proof. Often, the defendants are found liable in a civil trial even if they were found not guilty in a criminal trial – or if no criminal charges were sought. Receiving a compensatory award in these claims have given many clients a sense that some sort of justice has been achieved.
Wrongful death negligence cases I’ve handled include auto accidents, medical malpractice, dangerous premises, and defective medical devices. Often, the family’s concern is that no one else is subject to what happened to their loved one. These cases have resulted in product recalls, new laws, and safer manufacturing procedures to prevent hazards, resulting in a safer society.
Obviously, nothing can make up for losing a loved one to accidental death. But survivors should not have to suffer financial ruin, or the knowledge that those responsible have not been held accountable – or worse, may cause future harm or death to others. A wrongful death award can make a tangible difference in the survivors’ quality of life and can serve to make all our lives safer.