What does “wrongful death” mean?

On Behalf of | Nov 17, 2021 | Personal Injury

A claim for wrongful death asserts that the defendant has negligently or intentionally caused a death.

The deceased’s estate and/or loved ones usually file the wrongful death claim. This must occur within the state’s statutory time limit.

A death resulting from a qualifying personal injury claim

Wrongful death is a type of personal injury claim in which the injuries led to death. It could occur due to a fatal car or motorcycle accident, medical malpractice, nursing home neglect, product malfunction, or other situations involving negligence or intentional harm.

Intentional killing is a wrongful death, and the victim’s estate or loved ones may file in civil court, aside from the criminal case.

A representative on behalf of survivors

State laws vary regarding filing specifics. In Illinois, the deceased’s “personal representative” must file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the deceased did not designate such a representative in his will, then an appropriate person can petition the probate court for an appointment.

The representative operates on behalf of “survivors” with whom the deceased had relationships. Who qualifies as a survivor varies from state to state. In all states, a surviving spouse, a parent who loses his minor child, and a minor child who loses his parent can file. The filing rights of extended family members depend on the state. Similarly, the romantic partner may be able to file, or a person who was financially dependent on the deceased.

When a wrongful death has occurred, the survivors should not have to suffer financially. Damage awards for wrongful death consider costs plus pain and suffering, as well as future losses to survivors, including loss of income and companionship.


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