Who Can I Sue for a Wrongful Death?
Few events in life are more emotionally devastating than the loss of a loved one. When that death occurs suddenly or unexpectedly, it’s even harder to bear, especially if it shouldn’t have happened and was caused by someone’s negligence or wrongful acts. In fact, that’s the textbook definition of a wrongful death.
Unfortunately, a wrongful death can occur for a variety of reasons, including the following:
- Motor vehicle accident
- Pedestrian accident
- Motorcycle or bicycle accident
- Swimming or boating accident
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- On-the-job injury
- Assault, mugging or other deliberate wrongful act
Potential Wrongful Death Defendants
If the unthinkable happens and you lose your spouse, parent or child to wrongful death, you can sue the responsible person or entity whose actions or inaction caused it. Naturally, precisely who you can sue will depend on the circumstances surrounding the death. Common wrongful death defendants include the following:
- Urgent care centers
- Nursing homes
- Product manufacturers
- Home or building owners
- Local governments and their employees
- Alleged criminals
Civil Action Versus Criminal Prosecution
Keep in mind that a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action, meaning that money damages are the only thing the court can grant you if you win. It cannot send the defendant to jail. However, if your loved one was murdered or was the victim of some other criminal act, your state likely will also file criminal charges against the alleged perpetrator. Nevertheless, these are two separate actions and the success of your wrongful death lawsuit in no way depends on the outcome of the criminal trial.
Perhaps the best known example of this was the 1990s cases against O.J. Simpson, the noted former football star and well-known actor. When his estranged wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, died violent deaths, Los Angeles County prosecuted O.J. for murder in what became known as “the trial of the century.” After weeks of trial, televised for the nation to watch, the jury acquitted O.J. of murder.
Feeling strongly that justice had not been served, the families of the two victims then successfully sued O.J. for wrongful death, winning $33.5 million when the jury found him responsible for the deaths.
Obtaining Legal Help
Your wisest strategy when contemplating filing a wrongful death lawsuit is to seek the advice, counsel, guidance and representation of an experienced local wrongful death lawyer such as one from Ward & Ward Law Firm. He or she can review the circumstances of your loved one’s death, determine whether you have a viable wrongful death case, advise you of how long you have to file to satisfy your state’s statute of limitations, and guide you through the entire process from start to finish.