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Wrongful Death

A Wrongful Death Lawsuit is a claim against a person who can be held liable for a wrongful death. If a loved one has died as a result of another party's negligence, including wrongful death malpractice, a wrongful death attorney can evaluate the case and determine wrongful death damages in accordance with wrongful death law.


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Wrongful Death

Wrongful death is a claim against a person who can be held liable for a death. A wrongful death lawsuit claims that your loved one's death was caused as a result of a willful act or wrongful act, or the negligence (liability) on the part of another person (the defendant), and that the surviving dependents or beneficiaries are entitled to monetary damages as a result of the defendant's conduct.

wrongful death lawsuitWrongful death charges may be brought against the individual(s) responsible and can also be brought against public agencies that may be responsible for death, including a city or state, a city jail, state prison, state or private hospital, school, public company, nursing home, etc. State law defines who is allowed to bring a wrongful death suit. Some states only allow a spouse or children to file a wrongful death lawsuit, while other states allow grandparents or other relatives to file a claim for wrongful death damages.

As well, wrongful death lawsuits are brought to civil court and the complaint must be submitted within the statue of limitations and these time limitations are different in each state. Every state has their own wrongful death law or set of laws, which governs these civil personal injury cases.

A wrongful death can occur in a number of circumstances. Every year in the US, over 90,000 deaths occur due to malpractice alone (including 7,000 deaths caused by medication errors) Other causes of wrongful death include slip and fall (premise) injury, car or other vehicle accidents , nursing home abuse , work related injury, defective drug injury , dog bite injury, exposure to toxic materials, and defective product injuries.

The Traffic Safety Annual Assessment reported more than 45,000 motor vehicle fatalities in 2005, making it the leading cause of death in unintentional accidents. In the same year, 19,656 slip and fall fatalities and 5,840 fatalities resulting from workplace accidents were reported.

Wrongful Death Claims

A wrongful death claim generally consists of the following:
  • The death was caused, in whole or part, by the conduct of the defendant;
  • The defendant was negligent or strictly liable for the victim's death;
  • There is a surviving spouse, children, beneficiaries or dependents; and
  • Monetary damages have resulted from the victim's death.
In a typical wrongful death case, a wrongful death lawyer seeks to obtain damages for the victim's family which may include:
  • Immediate expenses associated with the death (medical & funeral);
  • Loss of victim's anticipated earnings in the future until time of retirement or death;
  • Loss of benefits caused by the victim's death (pension, medical coverage, etc.);
  • Loss of inheritance caused by the untimely death;
  • Pain and suffering, or mental anguish to the survivors;
  • Loss of care, protection, companionship to the survivors;
  • General damages;
  • Punitive damages

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Families (or a family member) who file a successful wrongful death lawsuit (meaning that the family of the wrongful death victim can prove the fatality was the result of another person or party's negligence or malpractice) can sometimes be awarded very large settlements in damages.

In July 2010 Joe Jackson, Michael Jackson's father, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the doctor charged with giving the pop superstar a lethal dose of sedatives one year ago. Joe Jackson's attorney said there's a one-year deadline after a death to sue doctors in the state of California.

In March 2010 a settlement of more than $1.6 million was awarded to two children who lost their father due to a workplace accident.

In 1995, after OJ Simpson was found not guilty, he was sued in civil court by the Brown and Goldman families for the wrongful death of their loved ones. In 1997, the families were awarded $33.5 million in compensatory damages, an award that Simpson successfully challenged in court.

In 2006 CNN talk show host Nancy Grace was sued for wrongful death by relatives of Melinda Ducket, a 21-year-old Florida mother who committed suicide days after being confronted on-air by Grace about the whereabouts of the woman's missing two-year-old son. The wrongful death lawsuit alleged that Grace intentionally inflicted emotional distress on their loved one by insinuating that she had killed her son, driving the mother to take her own life just hours before her pre-taped appearance on Grace's talk show was to be aired. The Ducket family's lawsuit against Grace is pending.

In 1998, "Saturday Night Live" actor and comedian Phil Hartman was shot to death by his wife, Brynn, who then took her own life. Brynn Hartman's brother sued Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the anti-depressant Zoloft, which Brynn was taking for panic attacks, alleging the drug drove her to insanity that caused her to shoot her husband and herself. Pfizer settled the wrongful death suit for an undisclosed amount.

In the 1970s, Ford Motor Company was held liable for the wrongful deaths of Pinto motorists. The Pinto was eventually recalled.

Wrongful Death Legal Help

If a loved one has suffered a wrongful death, you may qualify for damages or remedies that may be awarded in a possible wrongful death lawsuit. Please click the link below to submit your complaint to a wrongful death lawyer for a free case evaluation.

Last updated on Oct-1-10


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Posted by
audrey crump-cooper
Alabama Law-Stepfather has 2 children and 1 child with my mother.Stepfather dies wrongful death asbestos, mother and he files right before death,he is asked who he wants to inherit,says wife ,my mother. Over 2 yrs. 30 or more companies settle . Over yrs. mother has given monies to stepchildren and myself and majority to their child .she bought home for sister and gave me $50,000 toward home and more also gave monies to stepchildren .Now sister has home her name with 2-3 mortgage mother paying note . Willed mothers home that was mothers and father at his death . Home that belonged to grandmother now,once was left to spouse, my mother , who gave to her stepchildren then they sold it , then mother bought back and moved in disabled brother and deeded to him . Condo valued $350,000 mother . half sister, myself equal owners . Annuities value around $600,000 .Half sister says her dad died not mine she should get all but will allow third condo and whatever is left of annuities because sister is going through it will DUI lawyers fines,2nd mortgage , debits, vehicle ,etc.2 stepchildren and half sister move away and leave me here with mom .What is my rights? At mothers death she would have 3 properties 1 with mortgage , half condo ,with mortgage half annuities . See will allow me to have half condo ,with mortgage and half annuities .Icing on cake ...I manage condo so it will make money so my mother pays me !0% ! $40,000 yr. I make a $4,000 windfall . I make repairs , upgrade ,advertise ,reservations .....and my sister lets me because it is half hers after all ! Kinda sounds like that old fairy tale ...Wicked stepmother and stepsisters so be my fairy godmother and help me out ! Another kicker My ex-husband a lawyer specializing in asbestos claims ,referred them to Baron and Budd in Dallas and gave up his 7% fee to my mother(sister)! One more thing , he was concerned , thought law with wrongful death , half divided children , half spouse ,stepchildren not included ? Not his client anymore left it to Barron and Budd . Hope you can make this out,its been 17 yrs. sister going through it fast needs guidance . 2 Million approx. Thank You !

Posted by
New York
My father was admitted to the hospital in November of 2013 where they found out he had mutiple bloodclots in his legs. They started him on blood thinner treatments and then in July of 2014, his blood doctor stopped his treament of blood thinners. In October of 2014, my Father suddenly passed away a few hours after he woke up; but when he woke up that morning, he was responsive and talking to me. Then a hour later, I had to call the ambulance because he took a drastic turn. When I got his autopsy back, it said my father died because of mutiple bloodclots that had traveled up to his lungs.

Posted by
My father was riding his motor scooter to work. He was struck by a motorist and killed on impact. The driver admitted to his faults. What has caused my sister and I more pain is that he was killed on our mother's birthday. She passed 6 months before my father died.


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