Practice Areas

Wrongful Death

Overview

You may have experienced an event in life that left you or a loved one injured. A faulty product, a botched operation, or a freak accident can cause damage that is either temporary or permanent. In those circumstances, you have to live with the consequences. But the unfortunate reality is that some of these same situations (plus many others) can result in a much more devastating consequence: death.

Understanding Wrongful Death Claims

When a person’s death is caused by the negligence of another (e.g., negligent driving or medical malpractice), surviving family members have a claim for the decedent’s wrongful death. A civil action for wrongful death is brought in the name of the executor of the decedent’s estate for the benefit of surviving family members. A surviving spouse, children, and parents are all presumed to have suffered damages in the event of a wrongful death, and other family members may also be entitled to damages.

Statute of Limitations

When determining if you wish to move forward with a wrongful death claim, you should keep in mind that the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is normally two years. If you wait past that period, you lose your right to sue.

Recoverable Damages

Obviously, the mental anguish and emotional pain and suffering you endure due to the loss of a loved one is the worst aspect of experiencing a sudden loss—and it’s difficult to place a dollar value on that. But considering the widespread impact of your emotional well-being on your ability to return to normal life activities, you are entitled to some restitution. Also, there are the unexpected financial costs of the loss of a loved one to consider.

Damages that may be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • funeral and burial expenses
  • loss of support from the decedent’s earning capacity
  • loss of services
  • loss of the decedent’s companionship, consortium, society, etc.
  • loss of prospective inheritance
  • mental anguish/emotional pain and suffering
It is also not unusual for wrongful death to occur in a context where others suffer personal injury, such as a motor vehicle accident.  In such a case the wrongful death claims and personal injury claims would usually be presented together in one lawsuit (see The Johnson Family Story).

We know that losing someone is difficult and that having to deal with any legal issues surrounding their death can seem overwhelming—and we know those difficulties are compounded if you’re facing unexpected financial difficulties as well. That’s why we’re here to help. Our experienced attorneys can guide you through this difficult process and ensure the people who caused your loved one’s death are held accountable. And you don’t have to worry about our fees: they will be included in the settlement.

Our Attorneys

The trial attorneys of Dungan & LeFevre, James Brookshire and Mike Baer have litigated many wrongful death cases to jury verdict and/or settlement. They are proud to have assisted surviving family members in receiving justice for their losses as well as expert counseling to deal with grief, bereavement and economic/financial considerations. If you have any further questions about how we can help you with your wrongful death needs, please contact us.