Legal Guide

Wrongful Death Claims: All You Need To Know

A wrongful death claim is a civil action taken by family members after their loved one dies due to malpractice or professional negligence. In such cases, the cause of death could be due to several factors, including medical negligence, workplace accidents, or DUI accidents. 

Typically, a wrongful death claim aims to investigate the party responsible and hold them accountable. Also, they could begin as personal injury claims before escalating to death claims, especially if injuries from an accident caused the victim’s death.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim 

Before filing a claim for wrongful death, you must have enough evidence to prove that the deceased died from someone else’s actions or lack thereof. After establishing the cause, you must then demonstrate the intent. 

For instance, under professional negligence, you must prove how a professional had a duty to protect the deceased but failed to honor their obligations. Before, the law prohibited the deceased family from filing such lawsuits. 

The laws governing this area have since been revised, allowing close family members to present their claims in court. Usually, the spouse and children that may have suffered from the absence of their loved ones make these claims. 

Death claims are often complicated as not all deaths are caused by intent or negligence. A victim could still die from car accident injuries despite the doctor’s efforts. 

Wrongful Death From Medical Malpractice

In most cases, doctors and nurses are accused of malpractice resulting in wrongful death as they often handle the patient before they die. Failure to correctly perform a medical procedure leading to death could be a basis for wrongful death claims. 

Nurses who administer wrong medicine could also be sued for wrongful death.

Other forms of malpractice include workplace injuries that the employer could have prevented and defective products resulting in death. 

Wrongful Death Elements

Different states have varied guidelines surrounding wrongful death claims. Below are a few of them: 


The plaintiff filing the wrongful death claim must establish the damages the family has undergone to receive compensation. They include medical bills incurred before the victim’s death, funeral expenses, lost wages, loss of consortium, loss of inheritance, loss of insurance, and loss of support and companionship.

This amount is calculated by an economist who bases his approximations on the anticipated life expectancy of the deceased.

Professional Negligence or Intent

As mentioned before, the plaintiff must show how an action or lack of action caused the victim’s death. Intentional acts include murder or physical assault leading to death. 

Negligence, on the other hand, involves a lack of an act of care that could have saved the victim’s life. Examples of professional negligence include selling defective products. 

Statute of Limitations for Filing Wrongful Death Claims

Each state has a different time frame for making claims. For most, the period for filing a wrongful death claim is the same as that for personal injury claims. However, in others, it could be shorter. 

Typically, the time is between two to six years from when the victim died. The time limit could also vary depending on the age or mental health of the victim, involvement of acts of fraud, and medical malpractice.

Product liability cases are exceptional in terms of timing for death claims. Some states do not accept filing claims for products that are no longer on the market.  

“Unfortunately, a lot goes on after the tragic death of a loved one and family members of the deceased may not realize the statute of limitations on a wrongful death claim.” says wrongful death lawyer Daniel Libbey of Libbey Law Offices, LLC. “For that reason, it is important for anyone considering a wrongful death claim to seek legal consultation and ensure no stone is left unturned.”

Before filing a wrongful death claim, find legal assistance from lawyers or attorneys qualified in the field. Laws relating to wrongful death claims vary from state to state, and having a lawyer will ensure the process is run as smoothly as possible.

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