What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?If someone asked you what you believe is one of the most confusing personal injury lawsuits, which one would you choose? Would you say that a medical malpractice claim is the most confusing, or a product liability claim? Well, if you guessed anything other than wrongful death, you might be incorrect.

Wrongful death claims are one of the most misunderstood personal injury claims for several reasons. One of these is that many people are often confused on why a wrongful death claim is even filed in the first place. Here is a little bit more clarity on what a Mississippi wrongful death claim involves.

A wrongful death claim is a personal injury claim filed in civil court, when family members of a deceased victim want to seek compensation for the loss of their loved one. Wrongful death claims are the only claims where secondhand parties can pursue compensation for the death of another person. With other personal injury claims, only the injured person can file a claim against the negligent party to receive compensation.

Who can file a wrongful death claim?

Not all family members are allowed to file a wrongful death claim. In Mississippi, the only family members who are allowed to file a wrongful death claim are surviving family members or family members who were dependent upon the deceased victim at the time of his or her death. Some of the family members who can file wrongful death lawsuits include:

  • The victim’s spouse
  • The victim’s children
  • The victim’s parents
  • A personal representative of the estate

A victim’s unfortunate death is not enough reason to file a wrongful death claim. To file a wrongful death claim, the death had to happen as a result of an act of negligence. If a person was killed from a swimming pool accident, for example, and the pool owner’s negligence contributed to the person’s untimely death, the person’s family can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Wrongful death claims were created as a way for the survivors of a deceased victim to hold negligent parties responsible for their loved one’s injuries. Because the deceased victim is not alive to seek compensation for themselves, the survivors are allowed to step in and seek compensation for their loved one.

Compensation for survivors in wrongful death claims

Successful wrongful death claims can award survivors damages for the wrongful death of their loved one, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of companionship
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Loss of future earnings

How is a wrongful death claim different from a homicide charge?

Wrongful death claims are often compared to homicide charges. It is an understandable comparison because both result in the loss of a life. However, there are many differences between the two. One of the main differences is that a wrongful death claim is a civil action. Because it is a civil action, the survivors are allowed to seek financial compensation from the negligent parties for their loved one’s untimely death.

Homicide, on the other hand, is a criminal charge. More importantly, it is a criminal charge where the person’s intent matters. For a person to be charged and convicted of homicide, the state must show they had criminal intent along with their actions. Compared to a wrongful death claim, the negligent party’s intent does not matter as much. A negligent party can commit a wrongful death by accident and still be held liable for the victim’s death.

Another key difference between a wrongful death claim and a homicide charge are the outcomes. With a wrongful death claim, the negligent party is  held liable through financial compensation. However, liability in a civil claim does not necessarily translate to a criminal charge or conviction. On the other hand, even if the person that caused a loved one’s death is not charged with a criminal act, often the victim’s family can still proceed with a wrongful death action.

How a Mississippi wrongful death lawyer can help

An experienced wrongful death attorney must prove that the other party’s negligence caused the death of the victim. Some examples of this include:

When your loved one has lost their life due to another party’s negligence, an empathetic wrongful death attorney can help you and your family take the correct actions in your wrongful death claim. An experienced attorney can assist at multiple stages of the claim, from filing the claim to being represented in court.

When your loved one has been taken away from you because of another person’s negligence, you need an attorney who is empathetic and serious about meeting your legal goals. At Merkel & Cocke, P.A., our wrongful death attorneys are passionate about helping our clients secure the justice that they deserve. We provide legal services to injured families in Jackson, Clarksdale, Greenville, and Oxford. We also serve Tupelo and the Gulf Coast. Call us today at 662-627-9641, or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation.