An Overview of Wrongful Death Action

Wrongful death happens when an individual is killed due to the negligence or misconduct of another person. It is worth noting that wrongful death is a civil case even though there may be a criminal prosecution associated with the fatality. For this reason, the standard of proof in a wrongful death is lower than in a criminal case such as murder or manslaughter.

Wrongful death results from a wide range of circumstances such as medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, torts, manufacturing defects, or criminal activity. Each state has their own wrongful death statute, criteria and procedure for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Unlike other tort doctrines, wrongful death does not exist in common law. Early English and American courts did not recognize these actions. In those days, when the tort victim dies so is their right to bring a case.

There is a distinction between wrongful death and survivor action. While both pay damages for the surviving members of the family of the deceased, the difference is in the payment of damages. In wrongful death, the proceeds of the damage is directly paid to the qualified beneficiaries of the deceased. In survival action, on the other hand, the damages are paid to the victim’s estate not to the family. However, the damages may eventually go to the family members.

As a civil case, wrongful death is filed by the surviving family members. The decision of the judge is based on a “preponderance of evidence,” and not the “beyond reasonable doubt” ruling for other cases. This means that the defendant may be acquitted of criminal charges but may still be guilty in a wrongful death case. According to the website of Mazin & Associates, PC, wrongful death is governed by a statute of limitations so it is important to file the case within the given timeframe or else all hope of recovering damages is gone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *