Wrongful death cases are often among the most complex personal injury cases. This is because the ability to prove negligence and damages in these cases is made more difficult by the death of the primary victim in the case. Unfortunately, these difficulties will often result in the inability to collect the compensation that you rightfully deserve. Thankfully, taking the time to educate yourself on the topic of wrongful death law can help to prevent this from happening in your case. The three important facts outlined below, along with the help of a qualified wrongful death attorney like Bangel, Bangel, & Bangel, can help you to accomplish this task.
Fact 1: Legal Liability Must Be Proven In Order To Collect Compensation
Unfortunately, far too many people die each day as the result of tragic accidents or unforeseen consequences. While these deaths may be untimely, they are not considered wrongful in the eyes of the law. This is because these situations lack the element of legal liability.
In order for an individual or company to be held legally liable for your loved one's death, you will need to prove that these individuals acted in a negligent or incompetent matter. More importantly, you will need to prove that this negligence is what caused your loved one's death. In many cases, this will require the use of expert testimony and independent exams.
Fact 2: Pain And Suffering Is Not Enough To Constitute Damages
When filing a personal injury claim, there are two different types of damages that you can try to collect, real damages and punitive damages. Real damages are those that represent an actual financial loss that can be defined definitively, such as the cost of your loved one's funeral or medical bills. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are damages that are sought to help ease losses that are not financial in nature, such as pain and suffering. The value of these damages is completely subjective.
While you are able to seek punitive damages when filing a wrongful death case, you cannot file a claim based on punitive damages alone. If your case does not involve the presence of real damages, you will be unable to collect any compensation.
Fact 3: You May Be Required To Share The Proceeds Of Your Case
The law only allows one case to be filed for each instance of wrongful death. In most cases, the next of kin will be the only person allowed to file such a claim with the court. However, this does not mean that only the next of kin is allowed to benefit from the proceeds of a wrongful death suit.
While the law only recognizes the rights of one person to file a wrongful death case, it also recognizes that many different family members may be equally impacted by the wrongful death of their loved one. This is why it the equal distribution of a wrongful death settlement will often be ordered by the court. For example, if the victim in the case had three children, only one of these children would be allowed to file an official claim. However, the judge overseeing the case will likely require that the settlement funds be distributed equally among the three children.