When someone you love and care about dies because of negligence or intent, money may be the last thing on your mind. As a family member, however, you may be entitled to compensation because of the actions of that person or business. Your actions to seek this compensation could help others by sending a strong message to the wrongdoers. Your relationship with the deceased should meet the qualifications of being financially dependent on the deceased to seek damages. Read on to learn more about wrongful death claims.
What makes up a wrongful death claim? You don't need to know a lot about the law to seek help from an attorney, but sometimes it helps to know what you might be dealing with when you take your case to court. You have to have a good case, and the law says that a good wrongful death case means that certain facts must be true. Here are those four facts:
1. A person has died.
2. That person's death was caused by either intent or negligence. Intent is when the death was actually caused by negligent homicide, but many people are unaware of this facet of wrongful death. You can actually sue someone accused of murder, whether they are in jail for it or not. Consider the death of Nicole Brown Simpson and the civil lawsuit involving O.J. Simpson.
3. You or others are experiencing a financial loss due to that death.
4. An executor or personal representative has been appointed to oversee the deceased's estate.
What or who caused the death? Of the four facts or elements of a wrongful death case above, all but one are fairly easy and obvious. The only one at issue might be number 2, the cause of the death. Did the actions of another person or business cause your loved one's death? This is what must be proven by examining the events surrounding the death. There are two types of causes here, actual and proximate.
1. Cause in fact or actual cause means that a direct link between the death and negligence or intent can be proven. For example, a city bus strikes and kills a pedestrian. The city can be sued for the bus causing the death.
2. Proximate cause is a bit trickier to understand and to prove. There is a link, but an indirect link. For example, the pedestrian was being chased by a store owner who wrongly thought they were shoplifting. The store may be the proximate cause of the person being hit by the bus.
Speak to a wrongful death attorney about your wrongful death claim right away.