Wrongful death is a legal term that applies to a lawsuit where somebody dies or is killed due to an act of negligence or misconduct. Wrongful death cases can be complicated and overwhelming. Here is a quick FAQ to help you understand the ins and outs of a wrongful death case.
- Are all state laws the same when it comes to wrongful death cases?
Like most areas of the law, each state has its own set of rules and regulations regarding cases involving wrongful death. Determining what state you should bring an action of wrongful death is critical because certain states may not allow specific types of awards for damage. It’s also important to consider the statute of limitations, which determines how long you have to file a case after the incident has occurred.
- What happens in the event that an unborn fetus dies in a wrongful death case?
Many states require for the child to be born in order for its death to be the subject of a case involving wrongful death. In such states, the death of a fetus may not be actionable, but wrongful death attorneys can inform you of your rights depending on the state.
- Are punitive damages able to be recovered in a wrongful death action?
In the majority of states, the plaintiff may not recover the punitive damages involved in a wrongful death case. However, certain states do, in fact, have specific statutes in place that allow for the full recovery of punitive damages. Consult with wrongful death lawyers in your state for more information.
- What is the difference between the criminal and civil cases that can be brought about involving the death?
A criminal case arises in the event that the government wants to punish a certain individual for any action that is legally considered a crime. Alternatively, a civil case is centered around a disagreement over certain rights and responsibilities owed between individuals and organizations. A civil case involves the monetary judgment entered against the defendant. Ultimately, the burden of proof for a criminal case is higher and the consequences are more severe.
Overall, it’s important to know the technical details regarding wrongful death actions, and finding a reputable lawyer is the first step to having a successful case. The West Virginia Bar Association, one of the oldest in the U.S. has nearly 1,000 members. For more information about wrongful death, contact Greene Ketchum.