The sudden death of a child is broadly considered to be one of the most traumatic and stressful experiences that someone can endure. The pain of loss that parents go through is unspeakable. A family enduring this sort of loss probably can benefit from counseling and psychiatric care. When the child’s death was the result of another person’s negligence, pursuing a claim of wrongful death is one way a family can seek some compensation for all the impacts their loved one’s passing has caused.
Wrongful death is a specialized legal remedy that is available to the immediate heirs—for most children, their parents—of someone who has died as a consequence of another person’s negligence. It has unique features when compared to other personal injury causes of action. For one, it is one of the few causes of action that can be brought by someone other than the injured person or his or her estate. Second, it allows plaintiffs to demand compensation for damages that usually aren’t available in other cases.
It’s important to bear in mind that a wrongful death claim is built upon a conventional negligence claim. A plaintiff in a negligence case must prove that:
- The defendant owed a duty of care, according to applicable legal standards.
- The defendant breached the duty of care by doing something or failing to do something.
- As a consequence of the defendant’s breach, a person was injured.
- The person’s injuries can be quantified as damages that can be compensated through the legal process.
The types of negligence that might cause a child’s death vary considerably. According to the National Institutes of Health
, the most common causes of pediatric injury include auto accidents, suffocation, drowning, and poisoning. Negligence in auto accident cases can include things like the at-fault driver driving in violation of traffic laws, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Suffocation and drowning may result from a responsible person not exercising reasonable care to keep the child safe.
In a wrongful death lawsuit the plaintiff can seek special types of damages. Among other things, the plaintiff can recover compensation of the plaintiff’s own grief and the costs of the plaintiff’s therapy and other treatments. The plaintiff can also seek compensation for the child’s pain and suffering in the time leading up to death. Each form of damages must be supported with sufficient evidence.
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases. We have worked hard to build a practice that is centered on caring, compassionate service to our clients. If you have suffered the loss of a child, please contact us for a free attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page
When a person dies due to another person’s negligence the legal system offers a number of responses. Any time someone causes another person’s death there will be a criminal investigation, which may result in prosecution by the state. Depending on the facts of the tragedy, the responsible person might be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter or second-degree murder. The criminal prosecution may result in jail time for the defendant. In some circumstances the criminal court may also order the defendant to pay financial restitution to the deceased person’s estate.
The criminal justice system does not fully compensate victims
The criminal justice system’s ability to compensate victims is limited in a number of important ways. Criminal courts are constrained in the kinds of financial compensation they are allowed to grant to victims of crime. Convicted criminals can be ordered to pay restitution for economic damages, which includes things like medical costs, funeral expenses, and lost earnings. But a criminal court cannot order the defendant to pay compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering, or the emotional and life-altering harms suffered by the victim’s family.
Criminal prosecutions may fail to serve the interests of victims in other ways. Prosecutors may prefer to save resources and reach a plea deal that leaves out restitution altogether. The prosecution may take a long time. And due to the high standards required for conviction, the defendant may be acquitted.
Wrongful death offers family members a path to compensation
A civil claim for wrongful death is often an appropriate remedy for qualified plaintiffs who want financial compensation from the person responsible for causing another person’s death. A claim for wrongful death can seek compensation for a range of harms related to the death. In addition to economic losses associated with the deceased’s injuries, plaintiffs can also pursue compensation for their grief, loss of support, loss of companionship, and the pain and suffering of the deceased. These categories often capture significant losses.
provides that only certain people have standing to bring a wrongful death claim. Two categories of people have standing. The first category is the deceased person’s personal representative. This typically means an estate lawyer or executor. The second category covers the deceased person’s legal heirs. These are the people identified in a will or, if there was no will, by applying default rules.
Wrongful death lawsuits can unwittingly give rise to conflicts among heirs and personal representatives, each of whom may have valid claims. This can be especially problematic if the defendant’s resources are limited. Ideally everyone involved in the lawsuit will agree upon the suit’s goals and how any financial awards will be allocated among them. If the plaintiffs have significant disagreements, especially if there is a significant potential recovery available, the parties may need to hire separate attorneys and negotiate a coordinated strategy amongst themselves.
GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has been committed to giving our clients the personal, caring attention they deserve. We represent clients in cases involving personal injury, including wrongful death. We work closely with clients to relieve them of the burden of protecting their interests and defending the legacy of their loved ones. For a free attorney consultation, reach out to us today at 702-388-4476, or contact us through our website