As with any other type of lawsuit, certain elements must be satisfactorily shown in order to recover compensation during a wrongful death suit. Each element itself can be a complicated matter, requiring extensive evidence and testimony to settle legal issues. However, this post will hopefully help you better understand the basics of a wrongful death claim so that you can better assess your situation.
The first requirement of a wrongful death claim is that the victim actually died. This is pretty straight-forward. However, the second element, that the death must have been caused by the negligence of another, is often the heart of most wrongful death lawsuits. Here, it may be questionable whether a defendant's negligence actually caused the victims death, as many times there are other factors to consider. For example, was the victim partially at fault? Was there a third party involved in the car accident? Could the accident have been attributed to something other than negligence, like an icy road? These are difficult issues to address, and are best handled by an experienced attorney.
The third element of a successful wrongful death lawsuit is that the deceased individual has surviving family members who suffer monetary harm as a result of the death. Here it is important to uncover all the ways a surviving family has been harmed. Lost wages, medical expenses, funeral costs, and loss of companionship may all be compensable.
Lastly, a personal representative must be appointed for the victim's estate. This individual will act on the estate's behalf and will be the one who brings the wrongful death claim.
While this post lays the ground work for a successful wrongful death claim, it is a much simplified version. Therefore, none of the above information should be construed as legal advice. If you are coping with the loss of a loved one due to a fatal accident caused by the negligence of another, it may be in your best interest to speak with a Knoxville attorney.
Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death Overview," accessed on Sept. 5, 2014