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What is involved in a wrongful death claim?

Losing a loved one in an accident can be emotionally and financially devastating to surviving family members. In many cases, the accident victim was someone that other family members depended on. Without that person, the family could potentially fall apart.

If your family member was killed as a result of another party's negligence or misconduct, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party. In order to bring a successful wrongful death suit, you must show that there was a death and that the death was caused by another person's negligence or with an intent to cause harm. You must also show that you and your family have suffered monetary injury as a result of the loss of your loved one. You must also appoint a personal representative for the decedent's estate.

Once all of these elements are proven, you may recover damages from the court. The main measure of damages in a wrongful death suit is pecuniary injury. Courts will consider the loss of financial support, medical expenses, funeral costs, and other expenses when determining damages. If the deceased was contributing financially to the household, courts will consider the loss of income. If the deceased was an adult with dependents, courts will consider the loss of parental guidance.

Wrongful death suits allow families to get some of the closure they need after a devastating accident takes their loved one from them. While no amount of money can bring their loved one back, financial compensation can be very helpful during these difficult times.

Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death Overview," accessed on Sept. 28, 2015

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