Wrongful death refers to a death that should not have happened and which would not have occurred but for someone else’s actions. In other words, someone died “before their time” because of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. 

Wrongful death also refers to the type of lawsuit you can file against the person and/or entity responsible for your loved one’s untimely demise. 

Wrongful death causes 

Any number of incidents can result in a wrongful death, including the following: 

  • Motor vehicle accidents 
  • Workplace accidents 
  • Premises liability accidents 
  • Medical malpractice 
  • Nursing home abuse and neglect 
  • Deliberate wrongdoing, such as an assault, battery, homicide, etc. 

Wrongful death elements 

Should you decide to sue someone for the wrongful death of your spouse, child, parent, etc., you will need to present clear and convincing evidence of the following at the trial: 

  • That a human being, i.e., your loved one, died 
  • That his or her death resulted from the defendant’s negligence or intent to cause your loved one harm 
  • That you, as a surviving family member, have suffered various forms of economic damage because of your loved one’s untimely death 
  • That your loved one’s estate has an appointed personal representative 

Wrongful death damages 

If you prevail in your lawsuit, you can expect to recover both economic and noneconomic damages from the defendant(s). Economic damages consist of things like the cost of your loved one’s medical bills, funeral, etc., the amount of which the jury can easily determine based on bills paid. 

Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, consist of your more intangible losses, such as your loss of your loved one’s support, companionship, etc. Here the jury will have to estimate the amount of your damages based on such factors as your loved one’s age at the time of his or her death, his or her health and therefore life expectancy, his or her earning capacity and potential, etc.