Wrongful Death


A wrongful death lawsuit provides an opportunity for surviving relatives to file a claim if a loved one’s death was the result of a negligent act by another party. Car accidents, accidents involving drunk drivers, construction site accidents and product liability accidents can all result in a wrongful death claim. If the defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing death, the plaintiff may be able to recover compensation.

To avoid any potential problems with the statute of limitations when filing your claim, be sure to see your lawyer well in advance of the two year anniversary of the injury.

Who Can File A Claim?

There are typically two separate parts of a wrongful death claim, the “wrongful death action” and the “survival action.” The wrongful death aspect of a claim is the action brought on behalf of the qualified heirs for the death of a family member. The action can only be brought on behalf of a spouse, children or parents of the deceased. The “survival action” can be brought by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate on behalf of the heirs of the estate. This action is the claim that the deceased would have had for his or her own personal injuries. Any recovery or settlement on this action passes to the heirs through the estate and is subject to inheritance tax.

What Can I Recover?

The items of damages recoverable depend on whether the claim is for a wrongful death action or a survival action.

Under the wrongful death action you could recover the following:

  • Medical and dental expenses including prosthetic devices, ambulance, physical therapy and hospital services
  • Funeral expenses
  • Expenses of administration
  • The monetary loss to decedent’s family
  • The value of the society and comfort the surviving spouse has lost

In the survival action, the following can be recoverable:

  • Loss of future earnings of the decedent
  • Pain and suffering

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