Do I have a Wrongful Death Claim?

If someone you love has died from the negligent actions of another person or from a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation for their wrongful death.

For example, recently the family of a Cleveland man who was killed during a robbery in 2009 at a local bar has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the security company and building owners. The family claims the security officers did not do enough to stop a group of men from killing the victim, Jeremy Pechanec, who was shot in his parked car across the street from the Cleveland bar. Jeremy Pechanec’s family is asking for more than $100,000 in damages in their wrongful death claim.

Will this family win their wrongful death lawsuit? To win their wrongful death claim they will have to prove that the security officers and the building owners owed Mr. Pechanec a duty of care, which they breached, when they failed to protect him. The family will also have to prove that this breach of duty or negligence caused or contributed to the death of Mr. Pechanec. They must also prove that they have suffered loss from the death.

This wrongful death claim was caused by a criminal action on the part of the perpetrator, and if caught, they will likely face criminal charges, but the Pechanec family is also claiming that the security officers and building owner were negligent, and this negligence contributed to Mr. Pechanec’s death.

Do you have a Wrongful Death Claim?

All states have enacted wrongful death laws. If you can prove that the death of a family member has caused you loss, and the death resulted from another person’s negligent actions, you may be entitled to compensation. The most common recipients for compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit are the spouse, the children or the parent’s of the victim. A wrongful death lawsuit may only be filed by a personal representative of the victim’s estate.

Keep in mind, unlike a criminal charge which must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt”, you may be entitled to compensation if you can prove your wrongful death claim through a “preponderance of evidence”.

Even if a family does not win a guilty verdict in a criminal trial, they may attempt to recover compensation for their losses through a civil lawsuit. This is similar to what happened several years ago in the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Although he was found not guilty in his criminal trial, the family of Nicole Simpson successfully won a civil claim against him and he was required to pay them compensation for their loss.

What type of Compensation Can You Expect to Win in your Wrongful Death Claim?

If you win the wrongful death claim you can expect payment for your economic losses. This is called a pecuniary loss and can include payment for lost wages, pensions, funeral costs, medical costs and lost inheritance. To determine your pecuniary loss a legal expert can review the age of the victim, their potential life expectancy, and their future earning ability.

You may also be entitled to punitive damages if the wrongful death was caused by the intentional or malicious actions of another person. Some states allow punitive damages to be assessed to punish the defendant, others do not.

Hiring a Wrongful Death Attorney

The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death case varies in all states. The amount of time allowed may be different, depending on the type of claim. In general, most states will allow approximately one to three years for claims to be filed after the death occurs.

Do not wait to talk to a wrongful death lawyer. Wrongful death attorneys understand the law and can review your wrongful death claim. If someone you love was killed by a defective product, talk to a wrongful death lawyer who specializes in product liability claims.