Legal firms handle lawsuits of all kinds. Wrongful death is its own category; it can fall under personal injury law (the most common cases being car accident claims, medical practice, and product liability), workers compensation law, and a number of other fields. Because of this broad categorization, tackling a wrongful death suit can be a bit confusing. Let’s take a look at a few of the most frequently asked questions regarding wrongful death claims.
What is the difference between civil and criminal wrongful death cases?
Criminal cases arise when the government seeks to punish an individual for an act that has been classified as a crime; civil cases have more to do with a dispute over the rights and duties that individuals and organizations legally owe each other. The burden of proof is higher in criminal cases, and (logically) the punishment in a criminal sanction, such as imprisonment. In civil cases, however, the defendant will have a monetary judgment entered against them.
Can I bring a wrongful death action if the deceased never held a job?
Yes. If the decedent contributed to the family in some way, the job requirement is not necessary. For example, stay-at-home spouses contribute services, guidance, and nurturing to the family, which are quantifiable as pecuniary losses (defined as any loss that can be measured in financial terms) in a wrongful death action.
Can someone sue for the pain and suffering of a decedent?
Yes. The decedent’s family may recover damages for the pain and suffering that the decedent endured prior to death. Pain and suffering are considered non-pecuniary damages, as they are not readily quantified or valued in money. Common factors that influence the award of non-pecuniary damages include the age of the plaintiff, the nature of the injury, the severity and duration of pain, any disabilities, emotional suffering, and the loss or impairment of life.
Fortunately, your attorney will be able to guide you through the difficult and confusing process of filing a wrongful death action. They will help you determine how to value your pain and suffering and do all they can to ensure that your case is won.