Some Similarities and Some Differences in Wrongful Death Claims Across States

Few events hurt as much as the death of a friend or loved one.  The grief is overpowering, especially when someone else’s mistake is the reason why.

Statistically, accidental poisonings, including prescription drug overdoses, cause the most wrongful deaths in the United States.  Motor vehicle collisions are not far behind. Many times, these incidents stem from negligence. Swimming pool drownings claim the lives of many young children every year.  All of these deaths are preventable.

Since wrongful death laws vary significantly from state to state, it’s very important to work with a local wrongful death lawyer. An oversight could permanently prevent the survivors’ claims for badly-needed compensation.

A Few Key Similarities

Most states allow wrongful death plaintiffs to recover their losses.  Such losses include:

  •       Direct economic losses, such as the decedent’s medical bills and funeral expenses,
  •       Direct noneconomic losses, including the decedent’s pain and suffering,
  •       Indirect economic losses, such as lost future financial support, and
  •       Indirect noneconomic losses, including lost future emotional guidance and consortium (companionship and contributions to household maintenance).

Establishing the amount of damages is often difficult, especially if the decedent was a child.  So, an attorney, like a personal injury lawyer Brookhaven, GA trusts usually partners with an expert on the subject who gives the jury an answer as to future financial support or wages they could’ve earned.

Money alone cannot possibly make up for such a loss.  However, fair compensation can make the loss a little easier to bear.

Some Potential Differences

In most negligence and tort cases, the statute of limitations is two years.  However, the statute of limitations varies significantly among different states and different types of claims.  

Attention to detail is key as well.  In some states, only the decedent’s legal representative, such as an executor, can pursue a claim.  In other states, only narrowly-defined survivors, such as pure biological children, have this right.  Some states measure wrongful death cases from the eyes of the decedent, that is, what was the person who died his life worth to him?  Other states measure the value of the life from the friends and relatives. Some states say that children must get at least some percentage of the award, while other states don’t have a regulation.  It is important you consult with a lawyer who is very familiar with these cases in your state.

Wrongful death is a complex area that you do not want to leave to chance, so get professional assistance from a qualified lawyer.

 

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Butler Tobin for their insight into wrongful death cases.