While violence in the United States has gone down with every generation, bad things can happen to good people, and there are those out there that wish to cause harm to others. Even if not intending to kill, reckless action with malintent that leads to death is actionable under the law, and victims’ families are legally entitled to receive compensation.
Contacting the authorities
If you are reading this article because you believe harm has been caused to your loved one, take preventative action and contact the police right away. It is always better to be safe than sorry, and avoiding physical conflict is always the right thing to do.
If your loved one was intentionally killed or seriously harmed by someone else, it is essential that police are involved. As a family member or partner of the victim, you need to be aware of the name of the investigator who handles the case. While you rightfully will be in grief over what has happened, it is crucial you maintain a clear head to at least get the name and contact information of the investigating officer.
Contacting the police and obtaining a copy of the police report is critical, as this and the police officer’s name will be essential to any civil lawsuit you’re planning to file.
What actions does the law consider that constitute harm?
Whether causing death or other injury, intention to kill or intention harm is not all that is required under the legal definition of intentional harm. Any intentional action that is reckless or otherwise dangerous with malintent constitutes intentional harm if injury or death results.
Here are some examples of intentional harm that often yield wrongful death lawsuits:
- Road rage
- Vehicular assault
- Assault or battery
How does harm hold up in court?
Wrongful death lawsuits are a type of civil suit, meaning it falls into a different category than criminal court. The two are so separate that individuals convicted in criminal court for murder may not always be sued successfully for wrongful death, while those who escape criminal conviction may later be found liable in a wrongful death suit. This was the case in O.J. Simpson’s civil trial verdict.
In a case involving a loved one’s death that was caused by another person’s negligence, that individual is not necessarily going to be convicted of a crime. This could be the case in some traffic incidents, for example. However, a driver in a fatal incident could very well still be liable for a wrongful death claim.
Who can sue and what can you sue for?
There are some differences in state law that give some family relationships grey areas when it comes to wrongful death suits. While any parent could rightfully bring suit on behalf of their deceased child, in some states it is impossible or more difficult for parents to file suit on behalf of an adult child. The same grey area applies state-by-state regarding whether children can file suit. In other states, anyone with proven financial dependence on the deceased may sue.
The intricacies in state law are complicated enough that, particularly when grieving, one should never try to go through a wrongful death case solo. If your loved one has been harmed or killed, click here to get information from a wrongful death lawyer and see what can you recover after a personal injury case. Having an attorney taking care of the bitter details on your behalf will save you both money, time, and further heartbreak.
Settlements from wrongful death suits vary greatly on the case, ranging from a few thousand to millions of dollars. It depends entirely on the state, the circumstances, and what exactly you are suing for.
Generally, wrongful death suits see plaintiffs suing for the pain and suffering of the deceased in the events resulting in their death, medical treatment (if applicable), burial costs, and, last but not least, losses.
Losses in wrongful death suits can also range wildly, but this includes the personal harm, loss of a guardian or a companion, the loss of a mentor, the loss of care and love. This aspect is the most personal and also the most important in a case like this, so be sure to do your research and get the best representation to move forward.