Things to Consider with a Wrongful Death Lawsuit – Part I
The unexpected demise of a loved one is a traumatic and devastating experience that leaves the friends and the family of the decedent looking for answers and closure. Particularly, when the death is a result from another’s fault or recklessness, it is normal for family members to want to hold the individual/party responsible and accountable for the negligence.
In such scenarios, a legal recourse available to the aggrieved party is a wrongful death lawsuit. Typically, it is the need to have the untimely death and terrible tragedy acknowledged that serves as the impetus to seek out legal support.
Undoubtedly, no amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one but dealing with the financial insecurity and the grief of losing a family member can make it nearly impossible to move on. If you have lost a spouse, child, parent or close relative to the negligent or reckless act of an individual/party, you should get in touch with an experienced attorney to learn about the options available to you.
However, before you go any further, you will need to know a few basic things about wrongful death lawsuits. Here is some preliminary information on such cases that will help you to understand what can be done in this situation.
What exactly is wrongful death?
This is a relatively new legal concept that came into effect in the last century and was not part of the laws that were brought over from England (Common Laws). Today, every state in the country has legal provisions for wrongful death lawsuits. In any state, including Kansas, you can file a wrongful death claim if two criteria are met:
- – Death was caused by the act of another.
- – This act was either deliberate or can be deemed as omission, negligence or recklessness.
Who can file a wrongful death claim in Kansas?
Although the untimely and sudden demise of an individual impacts everybody who was ever associated with him/her, a wrongful death lawsuit can only be brought on by the heirs at law of the decedent. This would be any person who has suffered financial or non-financial losses due to the death of the victim. These representatives of the decedent’s estate are known as “real parties in interest” and typically include:
- – The surviving spouse
- – Surviving children, biological as well as adopted, who were financially dependent on the decedent.
- – Unmarried children who had no financial dependence on the deceased
- – Immediate family members such as parents, grandparents and siblings
- – Life partner and putative spouse (person who believed himself/herself to be married to the deceased)
- – Parents of a fetus (in case of miscarriage or unlawful abortion)
In Part II we’ll discuss the types of losses and compensation in a wrongful death claim.