Wrongful death lawsuits are always a great burden and frustration for those who pursue them. It's baked into the premise of the situation -- someone you care about died because of the actions or negligence of another person or organization. You now face the task of fighting for "fair compensation" for the loss of the one you love.
Unfortunately, even in the best outcomes, wrongful death suits can only do so much to remedy the heartache of losing someone before one's time. Still, it is the best available option for seeking justice in many of these circumstances.
If you recently lost someone you love in a tragedy, you should at the very least consult with an experienced attorney about your tragic loss. You may have more ways to fight for justice than you realize, and consultations are usually free. An experienced attorney can assess the parts of your claim that are the strongest and prepare you for the road ahead.
What if there were no criminal charges against the perpetrator?
Some people believe that they have no options left because the law failed to charge the person or persons responsible for the wrongful death with a crime. However, criminal charges are completely separate from civil charges, and often have very little to do with one another.
Even if the party responsible for the wrongful death does not receive criminal charges, you may still have a strong wrongful death claim in a civil lawsuit. Civil lawsuits usually get initiated by private parties, whereas criminal charges occur when a law enforcement agency issues them.
Can I still seek a monetary award even if the victim did not have an income?
It feels strange to think of making up for the loss of a life with some amount of money, but monetary damages are one of the most common and dependable means the court has to remedy such losses.
In most cases, the income of the individual who lost his or her life is a large component of the suit, as damages are largely based on the income that person could continue to earn if he or she were alive. However, lost income is not the only basis for compensation. If, for instance, your stay-at-home spouse were to die tragically, the courts would likely award some damages for loss of companionship or emotional suffering.
These damages are more difficult to quantify, so it is important to make sure that you have all the guidance you need to build a strong case and seek fair terms in your suit.