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Seeking damages after the wrongful death of a loved one

The death of a loved one is often a shock even if that person was ill or elderly. As much as your mind understands the logic of the passing of someone who was in poor health, it is still difficult to face that time goes on without that person in your life.

When a loved one dies tragically, it may be even more difficult to process, especially if he or she died as the result of someone else's negligent, reckless or intentional actions. When someone dies under these circumstances, it may be considered wrongful death, and surviving family members may have cause to seek damages from the one responsible.

What can qualify as a wrongful death claim?

Generally, a wrongful death civil claim follows a criminal trial, but that doesn't mean the subject of the wrongful death suit must be found guilty of a crime for the court to hold him or her liable for damages. If you are the personal representative of your loved one's estate, you may have questions about how to pursue damages you deserve because of the premature death of your loved one.

To qualify for a wrongful death action, you must prove that your loved one died because of the negligent or intentional actions of someone else. This may include any of the following or other incidents:

  • A motor vehicle accident
  • An airplane crash
  • A medical error, missed diagnosis or other malpractice
  • An on-the-job accident or exposure to toxins due to an employer's negligence
  • An accident that occurred under the supervision of someone, such as drowning while a lifeguard was on duty
  • A fatal injury that occurred while someone committed a crime
  • A murder

You must also show that the death of your loved one has caused you and your family financial suffering. If your case is successful, the court may award damages to compensate you for:

  • The loss of your loved one's income and financial support
  • The loss of any personal support your loved one provided for your family, especially if young children are left behind
  • The cost of paying for services and tasks around the home that your loved one formerly took care of, such as house cleaning, yard work or home maintenance
  • The cost of your loved one's final medical expenses
  • The cost of the funeral
  • The loss of inheritance and future earnings your loved one would have provided

Building a strong case for wrongful death involves many elements, and legal support from an experienced attorney is helpful. You will want the best opportunity to claim the maximum compensation to move forward with your life as your loved one would have wanted.

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