A wrongful death claim occurs when someone dies due to the wrongful act or neglect of another person or company. Deaths related to car accident injuries are the most common type of wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death claims fall under personal injury law because the party injured could have maintained an action to recover damages if he or she had not died in the accident.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
The personal representative of the decedent’s estate is the only one authorized by law to make this claim and/or file a lawsuit to recover compensation.
A wrongful death claim must be commenced or settled within two years under the state's statute of limitations.
A wrongful death claim provides monetary compensation for financial support, services, comfort, and companionship that the decedent would have contributed to their next of kin if they had lived. The next of kin are those persons who would be beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate, which typically includes spouses, children, parents, siblings, or grandparents.
Please note that a wrongful death claim is only made for recovery of damages suffered by the decedent’s family. Damages to the decedent are not included. However, they may be joined with a separate action, on behalf of the decedent’s estate. This allows compensation for final medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, and pain and suffering.
All claims for wrongful death must be reduced to a dollar value. Although this is not always easy to assess, a closer relationship typically equates to a higher monetary loss. Lost contributions of financial support are calculated based on the decedent's life expectancy and the life expectancy of the person making the claim.
Common Misconceptions About Wrongful Death Claims
There are many misconceptions about wrongful death claims. For example:
- Whether the person filing the wrongful death claim is deeply saddened by the decedent’s death is irrelevant. There is no compensation for the grief of the family members.
- It does not matter if a surviving spouse has, or has not, remarried.
- The fact that a spouse or next of kin may receive an inheritance from the decedent’s estate is not a factor in a wrongful death claim.
The Value of Legal Representation
When you've suffered the untimely loss of a family member, the last thing you want to do is be overwhelmed by paperwork. At Steffens Law, we can help you file a wrongful death claim against the party responsible for your loved one's death. We'll advocate for your legal right to compensation so you can focus on healing and moving forward with your life.
Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.