Wrongful death may occur as a result of injuries sustained due to negligence. It could happen because of carelessness or incompetence of another person. For instance, if a drunk driver knocks and kills a pedestrian, the family of the pedestrian can sue for wrongful death. The suit is intended to help the family recover from the pain, monetary loss, and suffering that results from death. The problem is that most people do not know when to sue for wrongful death. Here are some of the things you need to know about personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.
1. Eligibility to filing the suit.
It is only the next of kin of the victim who can file a lawsuit for wrongful death. But if the surviving next of kin are minors, anyone with legal guardianship or custody can file a wrongful death suit on their behalf. In some states, stepparents grandparents, and any other dependents are allowed to file the lawsuit.
2. How long should you wait before filing the suit?
Time limitation on how long you can take before filing the suit varies from one state to another. But generally, such claims should be filed within two years. In some countries, the plaintiff’s age and what caused the death may determine how long the case can take. Talk to your lawyer to assist and advise you on this.
3. How long will the case take?
A wrongful death case may be settled before the trial. In some instances, it may be settled before the case is filed. But where the case goes to trial, it may take several years to have it concluded. It means that you need to commit yourself to the time-consuming court process if you want to see it come to an end. Also, it is important to note that you need to look for a reasonable attorney who can foot the cost of pursuing the case. The attorney may then recover the fees from the compensation.
4. When is the case applicable?
One can file a claim for wrongful death when the victim who would have filed a personal injuries case dies. The death must result from an injury sustained due to negligence on the part of the defendant. A doctor who fails to diagnose a patient resulting in the death of the patient can be sued for wrongful death. The rule is that there should be negligence or the intention to harm the deceased. But an employee who dies because of the negligence of the employer cannot sue for wrongful death. They must seek compensation through a workers compensation system.
Note that the onus is on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant was negligent. They should show that it caused the victim injuries that led to their demise. Also, it must be demonstrated that the defendant owed the victim some duty of care. They must also convince the court that the duty was breached resulting into the death of the victim. If they cannot do this, they risk losing the case.