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Challenges in Bringing a Wrongful Death Suit

A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit filed against a person or entity who wrongfully caused someone’s death. The goal is to seek compensation for the survivor’s loss of a family member. Wrongful death suits can be complicated and require a lot of proof that the survivor is entitled to compensation. Below are some of the most common challenges in bringing a wrongful death suit.

Has a Wrongful Death Occurred?

The first challenge is to establish that the death was wrongful. “Wrongful” in this context usually means recklessly, or negligently, but it can also include intentional criminal acts such as murder. Some of the most common wrongful death causes are:

·   Automobile and Motorcycle Accidents

·   Medical Malpractice

·   Faulty Manufacturing

·   Criminal Acts

·   Elder Abuse

Who Can Bring Forth the Lawsuit?

Who can and cannot bring forth a wrongful death suit is the next challenge to overcome. The deceased cannot bring forth the lawsuit themselves, so it is often filed on their behalf by their estate, or by immediate family members who have been directly impacted by the wrongful death. Who qualifies to bring a wrongful death suit varies in each state, but in general, wrongful death claims can be brought by:

·   Immediate Family Members, including children and parents

·   Distant Family Members (if there are not immediate family members), including grandparents, siblings, aunts/uncles.

·   The Surviving Spouse

·   Personal Representative of the deceased’s Estate

Proving Negligence

Typically, in a wrongful death case, the Plaintiff, the party who files the claim, must prove the 4 main elements of negligence.

1. Duty of Care. The Plaintiff must prove the Defendant had a duty of care to the deceased person.

2. Breach of Duty of Care. The Plaintiff must prove the Defendant breached that duty of care as evidenced by their actions, or lack of actions.

3. Causation. The Plaintiff must prove the Defendant’s breach of duty directly or proportionately caused the wrongful death.

4. Damages. The Plaintiff must prove the wrongful death caused the damages that the estate or family members are now seeking to be compensated for.

Filing a wrongful death claim can be difficult, the best chance of determining whether you are eligible to bring a wrongful death claim is to hire an experienced attorney.

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