Wrongful death occurs due to negligence on part of an individual. The claim is filed in the court to by the immediate family members, or close relatives of the person to make the guilty party pay for the willful or negligent behavior that resulted in the death of another person.
In this article we will look at some of the legal provisions regarding wrongful death in the US.
Legal Status of Wrongful Death
Wrongful death is an area of tort law that is governed by state-specific statutes. The law allows the heirs or beneficiaries of the deceased to file a wrongful death case in the court against the guilty person. The exact provisions of wrongful death statutes vary among different states, but the general rules regarding wrongful death remain the same.
The statues regarding wrongful death state that the person who willfully or unintentionally caused the death is held liable for the action, and must compensate the deceased person’s relatives. The action that led to death can be a blow to the head during an argument, mistake during surgery, prescription of wrong drugs, or an automobile accident.
Whatever the cause of the wrongful death, the guilty party must compensate for the financial and psychological stress experienced by the relatives of the deceased person(s). The relatives are usually the immediate family members of the individuals, but they can be anyone who is a blood relation of the victim.
Is a Wrongful Death Case Handled Similarly to a Criminal Case?
A wrongful death case is different from criminal cases. What this means is that the proceedings of the criminal case do not affect or control the wrongful death case. A person may be acquitted of murder but may be found guilty in a wrongful death case. The victim’s family members can sue the person for wrongful death even if the person has been found not guilty in a criminal case.
On a final note, keep in mind that wrongful death does not apply to an unborn fetus. The reason is that the unborn fetus does not have any legal status. However, if an infant is born alive and later dies due to medical malpractice, the parent(s) of the child can file for wrongful death in court.