In situations where a person dies as a result of another person's negligence, the dead person's surviving spouse, children or heirs may have a wrongful death claim against the party that caused the death.
What types of damages are recoverable in wrongful death claims?
In wrongful death claims, the law typically allows the surviving heirs to bring a "survival claim." Often an estate is opened and suit is brought in the name of the estate of the deceased person. Damages for non-economic loss such as mental anguish, suffering or bereavement can be recovered.
These often include claims for loss of society, comfort or companionship. There also can be claims for economic losses such as loss of potential future earnings as well as funeral expenses.
In many jurisdictions caps are placed on the different types of damages that are available in wrongful death claims. Some states limit the amount a party can receive for pain and suffering claims, while other states separate wrongful death claims into a survival claim by the family and a separate claim of wrongful death.
It is important that you contact an attorney in your state to determine what types of recovery might be available and whether or not there are any caps on the amount of damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death situation.
How much time do I have to bring a wrongful death claim for a parent, spouse or a child?
The period of time during which a party must bring a claim or forever lose the right to seek any recourse in court is known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations varies from state to state. In some states it can be as short as one year, while in other states it can be as long as five or six years. Again, it is vitally important that you immediately contact an attorney of your choosing so that he or she can properly apprise you of the statute of limitations in your state.