A wrongful death is when the negligence or misconduct of one party (person, persons, company, or other entity) results in the death of another. The wrongful death lawsuit can (only) be filed by members of the deceased’s immediate family (the distributees), and alleges that they deserve monetary compensation for the death and damages caused by the conduct of the defendant. Every state has its own statutes with regard to wrongful death, however, there are some principles that all hold in common:
- The death must have been caused, in whole or in part, by the action (or non-action) or the defendant.
- The defendant actions were negligent or the defendant was strictly liable for the death.
- There are surviving members of the deceased’s immediate family.
- The death resulted in monetary damages.
Monetary damages cannot include the pain and suffering of losing a loved one. However, they may include:
- Lost earnings and potential earnings
- Lost care, advice, or support
- Lost inheritance
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses
- Lost ability to aid in household tasks