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What is a wrongful death claim?

Nobody lives forever, and the vast majority of deaths are unavoidable. Illness, congenital conditions and unfortunate accidents can rob us of our loved ones. While tragic, most of the time, there is nobody to blame when someone passes away.

But sometimes, a death occurs that could have been prevented. When it does, the victim’s family may have a wrongful death claim against the person, business, government agency or other party that caused the victim’s demise. This gives rise to a wrongful death claim.

Death caused by preventable negligence or fault of another

A wrongful death is one that happened because of someone else’s negligence, fault or by intentional action causes a death. Had the other not been at fault, the victim would not have died. It is not necessary for the negligent party to have acted intentionally. For example, when a drunk driver kills someone in a car crash, the driver did not mean to cause the wreck. But by choosing to drive under the influence, the driver unreasonably created the risk that someone would die. Since someone did die as a result, the driver is liable for their wrongful death.

Who can sue for wrongful death?

That will depend on the state law. In some states, the executor of the deceased’s estate is the person who can file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. In other states, like Louisiana, the law designates certain persons who can bring the claim for what the deceased suffered before death and for their own damages, such as grief and loss of companionship and support. The first class or categories of claimants who can bring those claims are the surviving spouse and children of the deceased. However, if there are no persons in this class, others as defined by law can bring the claims..

While nothing can bring your loved one back, a wrongful death claim can help relieve the financial burden your loss has created and can discourage such wrongful conduct in the future.