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An introduction to wrongful death lawsuits

While the death of a family member or a relative can devastate a family, the pain can feel amplified if the death is a result of a motor vehicle accident, particularly when it stems from a negligent or reckless driver. When someone dies in a preventable accident, the death itself may be considered "wrongful." The family of the deceased may be entitled to compensation if the death was caused by someone else's failure to exercise due caution while driving.

Wrongful death refers to the death of a person due to another person's misconduct or negligence. Often, wrongful death follows in the wake of a criminal trial. Compared to criminal trials, wrongful death lawsuits require evidence with a lower standard of proof to prove that the accused was negligent. The plaintiff may use similar evidence presented in the criminal trial for the wrongful death lawsuit.

Before filing a wrongful death claim, potential plaintiffs should consider the following elements -- whether the death was due to someone else's intention to cause harm or negligence, family members who are experiencing financial injury due to the death of their loved one and a personal representative for the decedent's estate. If all of those elements are present, the personal representative of the decedent's estate may proceed in filing the wrongful death claim.

Potential plaintiffs should list their losses in the wrongful death lawsuits. Courts may award them with pecuniary or punitive damages, depending on their cases. Plaintiffs may maximize their compensation with the help of legal professionals who focuses on such claims. Legal assistance is necessary when determining all potential defendants and the right amount of compensation needed by the plaintiffs.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Wrongful death overview," accessed on Sept. 8, 2014

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