Wrongful Death: Injured
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Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death claims are usually brought by the estate of a person who was killed due to fault of another. The most common plaintiffs are the surviving spouse or the children of the deceased. The wrongful death laws differ from state to state. Generally, the elements are the same and include a death of a human being which was caused either by negligence or the intent to harm. The surviving family members usually need to be suffering a monetary injury as a result of the death. A wrongful death lawsuit often ties in with other personal injury lawsuits including vehicle accidents or medical malpractice.

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What Damages Are Awarded in Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

Unlike other lawsuits, wrongful death claims are inevitably made on behalf of another. As the name indicates, the suit is based on a claim that the deceased died due to the defendant’s negligence, or worse.

There are two general categories of damages awarded in such lawsuits, pecuniary and punitive. Pecuniary, or financial, damages attempt to calculate the financial value of a particular life while punitive damages serve as a punishment to the defendant. Let’s take a look at both types here.

A suicide is a tragedy, and after someone takes their own life, we look for reasons why. Most often, those reasons fall to the person’s own unhappiness or mental illness. But that is not always the case. In some situations, it appears that a person has been pushed to commit suicide, or become more suicide-prone than he or she normally would be.

In these cases, could someone else be liable for a person’s suicide? And are there legal claims that cover these scenarios?

Wrongful Death and Intestacy: How to Collect Damages If There's No Will

When a person is killed due to the misconduct or negligence of another, a representative of the estate of the deceased may sue for wrongful death. But there are limitations on who can sue, and there is some confusion about who can receive damages if they are awarded. Not everyone who qualifies for inheritance under a state intestacy statute can collect wrongful death damages.

Can I Sue for a Foreign Wrongful Death?

If a loved one dies overseas, you may be able to sue for wrongful death in the United States. The overseas element will, however, add a level of complexity to an already complicated litigation.

You can argue that an American court has jurisdiction over a foreign defendant. Foreigners are subject to suit in the U.S. based on ties to this country, and sometimes suits are even filed here by foreign plaintiffs against foreign defendants based on incidents that occurred abroad. Still, establishing jurisdiction is procedurally intense and not at all obvious. You will need a lawyer.

Inmate Wrongful Deaths: Suing for Neglect or Abuse in Jail or Prison

Family members of inmates who die while serving time due to abuse or neglect can sue for wrongful death. Who can family members sue and what damages can be recovered? The answers to these question depend on the type of institution where the inmate was held, the manner of death, and certain statutory considerations.

Systems of incarceration are deliberately confusing and you will need an attorney. But there are some basics to understand in advance of a consultation that will help you understand your legal options. Your lawyer will ultimately help you determine the best course of action.

The City of Baltimore has reached a tentative $6.4 million settlement agreement with the family of Freddie Gray. Gray died in April after suffering a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody.

Baltimore has already paid a total of $5.7 million to settle more than 120 police brutality lawsuits since 2011, and the latest payout would be approved just days before another pre-trial hearing in the criminal case against the six officers charged in Gray's homicide.

Just about every criminal and civil case has a time limit — a statute of limitations that creates a deadline for filing a case. But there’s no statute of limitations for murder cases, so would the same be true for wrongful death claims?

While wrongful death claims are still subject to statutes of limitation, it turns out there are some unique considerations when it comes to applying time limits to wrongful death lawsuits.

An instructor and an 11-year-old boy were killed in a hang gliding crash near Jean, Nevada last March. A subsequent investigation revealed that the instructor did not have the proper permits to be flying in that location, and his business wasn’t licensed in the counties in which it was operating.

So who regulates hang gliding companies, and who is liable in a hang glider accident?

[UPDATE: After this post was published, Eric Garner's family accepted a $5.9 million settlement from New York City.]

The widow of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man choked to death by NYPD officers last year, has rejected an offer of $5 million to settle a potential wrongful death lawsuit. Despite urging from the family's attorney to accept the money, Esaw Garner declined the offer and the family has indicated it intends to sue the city instead, for $75 million.

Although a coroner declared Garner's death a homicide, a grand jury decided not to bring criminal charges against Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who applied the fatal chokehold.

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?

When a loved one is killed by the intentional or negligent actions of another, a criminal conviction may bring justice. However, sending the defendant to jail won't cover the loss of a family member's care and support.

To receive civil compensation, victims' surviving family members can file wrongful death lawsuits. Normally, the person who is injured would sue for damages. However, in a wrongful death lawsuit, the victim obviously isn't in a position to bring a lawsuit.

So, who can sue for wrongful death?