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Wrongful death frequently asked questions

Wrongful death is defined as any death that directly resulted from another party’s negligence or misconduct. Losing a loved one is hard, but when it’s caused from the carelessness of another it can be especially painful. During that difficult time you may have critical questions that need answers. Let an attorney at The Perecman Firm help you to get your life back under control.

Q: What is the difference between a civil case and a criminal case against someone who caused a death?

A: Civil cases are often referred to as “lawsuits”. If you lost a loved one, you may be able to bring a wrongful death claim against the person(s) who was legally responsible for your loved one’s death. Criminal cases, on the other hand, are brought by the state or federal government. While you can provide information to the prosecutor and encourage them to bring charges against the person who caused your loved one’s death, you cannot make them bring a case.

Q: What if an unborn child dies?

A: The laws relating to claims for the death of an unborn child vary from state to state. Some states look at whether or not the child could have survived outside of the mother’s womb at the time the death occurred. If you’ve lost an unborn child in an accident, you will want to work with an experienced attorney to look at your local laws and see how they affect your ability to bring a claim.

Q: Are all state laws the same regarding wrongful death?

A: No. Every state makes their own laws relating to civil claims. This means that across the country, wrongful death claims vary greatly.

Q: Are punitive damages recoverable in wrongful death actions?

A: Punitive damages exist as an option in civil court to punish the person who caused the other person’s death. Punitive damages are not awarded in every wrongful death. Speaking with an experienced local attorney can help you understand punitive damages more clearly and determine whether or not punitive damages are likely in your situation.

Q: What if a person dies before filing a personal injury lawsuit?

A: If a person dies as a result of the injuries that would be addressed in a personal injury claim, then most often, the wrongful death claim would take the place of the personal injury lawsuit. However, if your loved one died as a result of something unrelated to the personal injury claim, the estate may be able to make a personal injury claim rather than a wrongful death claim.

Q: Can a plaintiff bring a wrongful death action if the deceased never had a job?

A: Yes. Traditional employment is only one way that a person contributes to a family and wrongful death claims are designed to compensate families for the loss of a loved one. The person bringing the lawsuit can claim compensation for a number of things, depending on the state, including household duties, child care and emotional support.

Q: Can a plaintiff sue for the pain and suffering of the decedent in a wrongful death lawsuit?

A: It depends on the state where the wrongful death lawsuit is filed. Some states allow for pain and suffering to be included in a wrongful death claim, however, others do not allow courts to provide compensation for such a claim. Speaking with a local experienced attorney can help you understand how damages for pain and suffering may fit into your wrongful death claim.

Q: Can I bring a wrongful death action based on the death of a child or an elderly person?

A: Yes. The legal system provides compensation in situations involving the death of children and elderly individuals. The financial calculations will be different when the deceased wasn’t a wage earner, but a successful lawsuit can still be brought.


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