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Wrongful Death Law

Written by Kathleen Gagne
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Every state in the United States has a body of wrongful death laws to guide the filing of claims and the details of each case. The purpose of these laws is to provide for compensation to the survivors of a victim of wrongful death. Wrongful death is defined as death occurring due to the negligence or criminal act of a person, company, or other entity such as a municipality.

Wrongful Death Laws in Each State

Laws in each state cover such wrongful death occurrences as automobile accidents, on-the-job deaths caused by unsafe conditions or failure to comply with safety procedures, or prescription drug interactions, and many other situations. Persons filing a wrongful death lawsuit must be the decedent's survivors such as a spouse, children, or parents in most states. While no monetary award can take the place of a loved one, there are several key elements of compensation that can make survivors' lives a little more bearable.

For example, a wrongful death settlement can mean that emergency medical and funeral expenses will be paid. Attorneys will calculate the victim's anticipated earnings, and that money can be granted in an award settlement. Other considerations are the emotional pain and suffering of the survivors, the loss of companionship, and, in some states, even punitive damages. In some cases, wrongful death compensation amounts are settled in negotiations before they ever come to trial.

Taking Action

Wrongful death laws in most states require prompt action. This means that survivors should contact an expert wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after the death. The attorney will ask the survivors questions regarding their suspicions and will advise them on the merits of a possible case. He or she will then discuss issues that may be time sensitive such as requiring an autopsy. While this may seem insensitive at the time, it can be the only way that survivors may be compensated in part for their loss.


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