When a loved one is seriously injured due to the actions of another, a personal injury lawsuit is sometimes the only way to get the financial help and compensation they need. However, what can and should the family do if their loved one dies as a result? Here's what every family should know about the intersection of personal injury and wrongful death.
Are Personal Injury and Wrongful Death the Same?
Both personal injury suits and wrongful death suits are related, but they aren't quite the same. Both fall under the civil law category known as tort law. Tort law deals with harm caused by one party to another private party.
While personal injury and wrongful death may stem from the same act of negligence or maliciousness, they seek different compensation based on different losses. In the former, the injured person sues for their recovery while in the latter, the family sues over their loss. Financial considerations and reasoning differ between the two.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?
To sue for wrongful death, you must have been harmed by the death of the person. Therefore, only certain people connected to the decedent can file a suit. While friends and relatives may be affected, there must be a reason to attach financial compensation to the plaintiff's loss.
States each have their own rules, but it's generally limited to immediate family members and the estate of the deceased person. In some cases, however, someone else may have standing to sue if they were dependent on the person who was killed.
What If There Was a Personal Injury Suit?
In some cases, a person can be injured by the initial event but not pass away immediately. Perhaps they sue the liable party for damages. However, eventually, they pass away as a result of their injuries or harm. Can the family still sue for wrongful death?
The answer is yes. As mentioned, these are two distinct cases involving two different sets of parties. The defendant may be the same in both cases, but the plaintiffs are different. Whether or not the injured person was compensated, surviving family members may now deserve compensation for the loss of consortium, loss of income, and other effects on their lives after the death.
Where Should You Start?
Could you have standing to bring a wrongful death suit regarding your loved one? Find out by meeting with a personal injury lawyer in your state today.