Every death is a tragedy to the loved ones of the deceased. When the death occurs unexpectedly at work due to the actions of another person, the tragic nature of the death is amplified.
When a death occurs because of criminal or negligent activity, the remedy for the family takes two forms. First, the perpetrator gets charged with a felony and hopefully ends up serving time for their actions. This particular remedy is fair, but it does little to benefit the family members of the victim.
The other remedy is a civil action that the legal community refers to as a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death is defined as “the taking of the life of an individual resulting from the willful or negligent act of another person or persons.”
In a wrongful death lawsuit, family members get an opportunity to pursue financial compensation for the unexpected loss of their loved one. While financial compensation does little to fill the hole of loss, it does provide a way to fill the financial loss that might result from the loss of a family member.
If you and your family were victimized by the untimely loss of a loved one, you have the right to pursue financial compensation. Before filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you need to do two things.
First, you need to discuss your case with an experienced attorney. Ask your friends and family for recommendations, or turn to Google to find a curated list of local professionals. Simply plug in a query like “NYC wrongful death attorneys” and you’ll have plenty of options to consider.
Second, you need to do some research. Remember, the law is about what is provable and everyone is entitled to due process of the law. Your research should be geared towards gaining an understanding of the wrongful death concept and the investigation process. To that end, the following discussion is going to focus on the five major components of a wrongful death investigation.
The Major Components
With every death, there has to be an investigation. The coroner needs to determine the cause of death. If the cause of death indicates the actions of another person, law enforcement would initiate a criminal investigation.
To qualify as a wrongful death, the investigation would focus on five components:
- There was a death caused by another person’s actions
- Breach of Duty
For more information on each of these components, please continue reading.
The Death was Caused By Another Person
To qualify as a wrongful death, the death has to have been as a result of the actions of another person whether intentional or not. Investigators will focus on the circumstances of the death to rule out the possibility of an accident and the victim’s own complicity.
The victim’s family and their attorney must be able to show the death occurred because of the recklessness, carelessness, or negligent actions of the accused.
Breach of Duty
The victim’s family and their attorney must be able to prove that the accused had a responsibility to behave responsibly. In a workplace incident, all employees have a duty to perform their jobs safely. Failure to do that is a breach of duty.
If the accused breached their duties, the victim’s family and their attorney must prove the breach of duties led to death.
The victim’s family and their attorney must prove that the death caused damages, be it emotional or financial damages.
The Goals of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Good attorneys understand that wrongful death lawsuits are not really about the money. It’s really about giving surviving loved ones some form of closure.
After enduring the pain of a lost loved one due to another person’s actions, your first thoughts might go to revenge. If there are criminal charges and a conviction, that’s the best form of legal revenge you can hope to get. The problem with revenge is it doesn’t promote closure if the death caused emotional and financial problems.
If you were to win a wrongful death civil lawsuit, you might at least get some peace of mind. It won’t bring your loved one back, but possible financial compensation could minimize the ways the loss affects your life.