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What Constitutes Wrongful Death?

Last updated 2 years ago

Preventable errors lead to thousands of deaths each year. In some cases, the deceased’s family may choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensation from the party responsible for the death. To learn more about the requirements of a wrongful death claim, read on.



A wrongful death suit depends on establishing negligence, or carelessness that led to the death of the victim. Negligence begins with a duty of care, or a responsibility to act in a certain way, which is then breached, resulting in injury to another party. A doctor who commits an egregious medical error that results in the death of a patient may be guilty of negligence. It was that doctor’s duty to act responsibly and give the best possible medical care, and a failure to do so may make the doctor responsible for the patient’s death. Negligence can occur in many other situations, like car accidents or slip and fall accidents.


For a wrongful death lawsuit to be successful, the plaintiff must show that the victim’s death resulted in damages. These damages can be financial, like lost wages and insurance benefits, or non-financial, like loss of companionship. The plaintiff must show that the loss of the deceased has done real damage to his or her surviving family members. In some cases of severe misconduct, the plaintiff may be able to obtain punitive damages, which punish the responsible party and help prevent a repeat of the negligent behavior in the future. Wrongful death suits are not meant to compensate for the deceased’s death; instead, they are meant to compensate for the effects that that death has had on surviving family members. This type of lawsuit can only be filed by the executor of the deceased’s estate, who is usually a close family member.

If you would like to consult with a law firm that specializes in a wide selection of legal fields, including criminal law, commercial disputes, personal injury and insurance litigation, Kelly, Parker & Cohen, LLP is ready to help. With more than 50 years of combined litigation experience, Kelly Parker & Cohen possesses the experience, knowledge and focus to represent and protect clients in a wide spectrum of legal disputes. For more information about our practices areas call us at (888) 482-1351, or e-mail us for your free consultation.


The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use and access to this website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney. 


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