When the neglect or action of a person or company causes an accident that claims someone’s life, this is a wrongful death.
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit is separate and apart from any criminal legal actions taken by the state to punish someone for causing someone’s death.
In the United States, we must prove beyond doubt that someone killed a victim before we can punish them for the crime. With our system, some guilty people may slip through the cracks, but innocent people will not be punished for something they did not do. It is a tradeoff that leaves the families of the victim empty.
Even if the courts couldn’t prove beyond doubt that you were the person who killed the victim, the families of the victim can seek restitution in civil court.
Think about O.J. Simpson. The criminal courts could not find enough proof to convict him of the murder of his wife and her friend.
However, the jury agreed that it was more likely than not that he did kill the victims and they ordered Mr. Simpson to pay the families $58-million dollars.
This included $25 million dollars that the court added for punitive damages. This means the court believed Mr. Simpson was liable and that he acted so despicable that he deserved maximum penalties.
Who Can File Suit?
This is a question better asked of your attorney. We do not live in a black and white society. We live in a society where the lines between legalities and ethics are sometimes blurred.
Generally speaking, the spouse, parents, children, and stepchildren are allowed to file a wrongful death suit. If you are a blood relative and were dependent on the victim for your support, the court may let you be part of the suit.
If you are part of a same-sex couple or a partner of the victim that has lived as a couple for a long time but are not legally married, you need to consult an attorney about your specific case.
How Much Do You Sue For?
There are a lot of considerations that go into the decision of how much money to seek in the court. Here are a few things the courts will look at:
- How much money did the victim earn?
- How much money could be forecasted for the victim until his children are of age?
- The costs of medical and hospital bills.
- The cost of any special equipment or help that was required while fighting for their life.
- How much did the funeral cost?
- How many children were dependent on his salary?
- Loss of services
- An example of this is to pay a lawn care company because your partner can no longer keep up the yard.
- Loss of the relationship
- A spouse can seek damages due to the loss of companionship, love, and comfort they lost.
Tips You Need To Know
You need to contact an attorney as soon as possible. There are time limits on filing suit. There are also maximums you need to be aware of.
Finally, valuable information can be lost or forgotten while you are struggling to get through the day. Let your Coeur d’Alene wrongful death attorney do their job. The sooner you hand this to them, the better.