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What is Wrongful Death?

When a person is killed due to the negligence of another individual, whether it be through a car accident or murder, the surviving family members of the victim my file a lawsuit for "wrongful death." Wrongful death lawsuits typically follow in the wake of criminal trials and use similar evidence. The main difference is that the civil court, where wrongful death suits are tried, requires a lower standard of proof than criminal courts. When someone is found liable for wrongful death, they are not always convicted of a crime because the burden of proof in the criminal court is much higher. A famous example of a successful wrongful death suit is that of the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman against O.J. Simpson. Though he was not found guilty of murder in 1994, he was found liable for the wrongful death of the victims in a civil trial. A wrongful death claim can arise from of a number of circumstances, including:
  • Medical malpractice that resulted in death
  • Automobile accident
  • Airplane accident
  • Occupational exposure to hazardous conditions or substances
  • Death during a supervised activity
  • Criminal behavior, like drinking and driving or murder
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence or misconduct of another person, you may be entitled to bring a wrongful death suit against those responsible. Because there are deadlines for filing a wrongful death suit, contact an experienced personal injury attorney quickly to discuss your legal rights.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Suit?

It is important to note that a wrongful death suit can only be brought by the personal representative of the victim's estate. This is typically the victim's surviving spouse or children. It can also be the legal representative on behalf of the estate. In some instances, other dependents can bring a wrongful death suit; however, they must prove that they were, in fact, dependents of the deceased.

What Damages Can I Seek in a Wrongful Death Suit?

Wrongful death suits are similar in some ways to personal injury suits. The main difference is that the victim is dead and the surviving family is bringing the suit on the victim's behalf. Wrongful death suits can seek compensation for:
  • Medical bills incurred from the moment of the accident to death
  • Conscious pain and suffering of the victim before death
  • Other expenses incurred prior to the victim's death
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of income and benefits
  • Punitive damages, in some cases
A personal injury attorney can help you determine the damages and amount of compensation you should seek. The team at Bernstein & Poisson in Las Vegas have helped countless families who have lost loved ones due to the negligence of another. We can help you determine if you have grounds for a wrongful death suit, as well as help you throughout the entire process.