If you have experienced the tragedy of losing a family member due to the negligence of someone else, then you should consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Although taking this action will not bring back your loved one, it can provide financial compensation for lost income, funeral costs and other expenses. This article examines some of the key factors to keep in mind when thinking about whether to file this type of lawsuit.
Not everyone has the legal standing to file a wrongful death claim. The laws vary from state to state, but in all states close family members, such as parents, children and spouses have the right to sue. More distant family members may also sue in some jurisdictions, depending on the state laws. A registered domestic partner in Washington and some other states has the standing to bring a lawsuit as well. If the deceased individual left an estate, the estate's representative has the right to sue on behalf of the estate.
Like all lawsuits, wrongful death claims must be filed in a timely manner. Most states give you two or three years to file. In the state of Washington, for example, you have three years to file a suit. In other states, the statute of limitations might be only one year. Typically the statute of limitations time limit begins when you discover the cause of your loved one's death. In some instances, however, you or your loved one might discover the negligence that led to their demise before they actually pass away. This means that, under some circumstances, the statute of limitations might begin to run before a death has occurred.
The amount of compensation you're likely to receive if your wrongful death claim is successful depends on a variety of factors. For example, the deceased's income and earning capacity in the future often plays a crucial role in determining the amount of damages awarded to the plaintiff. If a person is elderly, for instance, then his future earning capacity is presumably lower than that of a younger person and the damages might be lowered as a result. In addition to economic damages, you can also seek punitive damages in some states, but not in others, such as Washington.
Deciding whether to bring a wrongful death lawsuit is a complex decision that is difficult for the average person to make without expert help. For more information on this complicated subject, contact a local attorney's office who specializes in these types of cases, such as Campbell, Dille, Barnett & Smith, P.L.L.C.