When a Fatal Accident Becomes a Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death is a legal term for any tragic loss of life caused by another person’s negligence or deliberate misconduct. This includes deaths caused by a direct and willful act or by an unintentional but careless act by an individual, business or other entity.
Family members and certain dependents of a deceased individual may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party at fault for their loved one’s accident. These claims are heard in civil court and can result in substantial financial compensation. While money can never replace a beloved family member, wrongful death compensation can provide financial security to victims as they cope with such a terrible loss.
If you lost someone in an accident caused by someone else, those at fault can — and should — be held accountable for their recklessness. But not everyone can file a wrongful death claim. To learn about your legal rights, contact the wrongful death attorneys of the Davis Law Firm, LLC, today for a free consultation.
Not All Fatal Accidents Are Wrongful Death
Many of our daily activities involve hidden dangers. There are no shortage of circumstances that can lead to someone’s death. Take these examples:
- A man falls at a restaurant and suffers a fatal blow to his head.
- Someone collapses and dies at work.
- An older adult dies at a nursing home.
- A woman dies after receiving medical care in the emergency room.
- A child dies while at daycare.
Although each of these instances is tragic, they may or may not qualify as wrongful death. Consider the first example of the man’s fall at the restaurant. If he tripped over his own shoes and hit his head, the restaurant is not responsible for the accident. On the other hand, if a waiter spilled a pitcher of water and the man slipped in the puddle, it’s possible that the restaurant could be held liable for the death.
Other examples of fatal events that might be categorized as wrongful deaths include:
- Criminal violence, such as assault
- Dying after exposure to a hazardous condition at work
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Airplane crashes
- Car crashes
Because there is a thin line between what counts as wrongful death and what doesn’t, it’s essential to contact an attorney to determine if you have a case.
Proving Liability In A Fatal Accident
To successfully win a civil wrongful death lawsuit, you must be able to prove your case. That means collecting and providing the evidence necessary to satisfy an insurance company, judge or jury that your demand for compensation is justified.
The success of a wrongful death case and how much money the court decides to award depends heavily on the quality of the evidence. That’s why it’s so important to have a wrongful death attorney to investigate your claim. A lawyer will know what it takes to achieve a favorable outcome, and what to expect from insurance companies and opposing lawyers who try to place blame on anyone except their client.
Gathering the relevant evidence in a wrongful death case can be further complicated if several different parties might be liable for the crash. For example, if your loved one died in a car accident after being hit by a drunk driver, it’s possible that multiple parties could be held responsible, such as:
- The drunk driver
- The bar that overserved the driver
- The car manufacturer if a defect contributed to your loved one’s death
- A government entity if a hazardous road condition contributed to the fatality
It would be extremely difficult for you to gather all of the necessary evidence to prove a wrongful death claim on your own, especially when you’re still grieving. An experienced wrongful death attorney can ease this burden by building a solid case on your behalf and fighting for you in court.
Under Tennessee law, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed in court no later than one year from the date of your loved one’s death. With that strict statute of limitations in mind, don’t delay in reaching to our Chattanooga personal injury firm to represent your family’s wrongful death claim.
What Makes A Wrongful Death Case?
It’s traumatic to you to lose a loved one and understandable to want someone to be held accountable for their death. However, certain baseline elements must be established for a wrongful death lawsuit to proceed. These elements include:
- A person died.
- The death was caused by someone’s negligence or willful misconduct.
- The person responsible for the accident had a duty to the deceased person. For example, a driver has a duty to others on the road to drive responsibly.
- The breach of duty killed the person and harmed their survivors in specific ways.
If each of those points of negligence is met, it’s possible to file a wrongful death claim against the responsible party(s).
Fighting For Wrongful Death Compensation
The personal representatives of the deceased person are the only ones who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The appropriate parties might include the deceased person’s spouse, children, parents, other dependents or executor of their estate.
Types of compensation that might be available in wrongful death suits include:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Pain and suffering of the surviving loved ones
- Pain and suffering of the deceased prior to their death
- Lost income and potential future earnings
- Loss of companionship
- Lost inheritance
- Loss of household services
- Loss of parental guidance
How Can the Davis Firm Help Me?
Losing a family member at any time is painful. But when a life is taken prematurely due to someone else’s carelessness, you have the right to take legal action against them.
At The Davis Firm, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are committed to helping you get the justice you need and deserve. Our compassionate lawyers will review your case, explain your legal options, investigate the accident and built a strong claim that demands full and fair compensation for your losses.
Our Chattanooga wrongful death attorneys have the skills, resources and legal muscle needed to help you get the compensation you are owed. Call us today at (423) 401-9980 or fill out an online contact form to arrange a free consultation.