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What must be proven to prevail on a wrongful death claim?

When a person dies due to the negligence of another individual, then the victim's death may be considered wrongful. Although a party who has passed away cannot pursue their losses, many jurisdictions recognize wrongful death claims that the survivors of the decedent may use to seek compensation for the losses they endured due to their loved one's demise. Readers are reminded, though, that they must seek their own legal advice as this post provides general information only.

First, a wrongful death claim must allege a death. If a person is hurt due to another individual's actions but does not die, then there are other personal injury claims that they may utilize to pursue their damages. Wrongful death claims only arise when someone has died.

Next, the death must not have been self-inflicted. It must be attributable to another person, either through that individual's negligence, recklessness or intentional conduct. It is possible for a person to be criminally charged in a death and civilly responsible for it; neither type of claim precludes the other.

Finally, the deceased party must have a surviving family member that seeks compensation for the loss of the victim's life and a personal representative must be appointed to see the wrongful death lawsuit through to its end. Survivors who pursue wrongful death damages may seek compensation for their loved one's lost wages, medical bills, funeral expenses and other hardships. In order to initiate a wrongful death claim, it can be helpful for survivors to discuss their cases with personal injury attorneys who represent wrongful death victims.

Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death," accessed November 13, 2017

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