How A Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works


Wrongful death suits throw many people for a loop, especially when it comes to people who recently lost someone close to them. It’s a unique type of lawsuit that has a different set of steps from the other types.

Before filing a wrongful death suit, it’s a good idea to know what you should and shouldn’t expect. If you’ve been wondering how it works, whether you can file, and what you will need to do, this guide is for you.

Who Can File A Wrongful Death Suit?

When most personal injury cases come to light, the aggrieved party is the one to seek out a lawyer. However, you can’t file a lawsuit against another person if you’re dead. If you were to pass away from malpractice or negligence, someone would have to sue on behalf of your estate.

With a wrongful death suit, the vast majority of the cases that are filed are done so by family members and spouses of the deceased. Courts sometimes require filers to show that they had a vested interest in the deceased in order to file a claim.

What Constitutes As A Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death suit characteristics vary from state to state, which means it’s best to consult with a wrongful death attorney before you assume you have a case. However, most wrongful death law firms will take a case if any of the following are true:

  • The death in question was preventable and was caused by negligence. For example, if a person died as a result of a car accident involving a driver who was reading a cellphone text, they would probably have a good case.
  • There is strong reason to believe the death was caused intentionally. A person who intentionally causes the death of another may not just face criminal charges; a wrongful death claim could be a viable option as well.
  • Medical malpractice was a cause of death. If there is provable malpractice, the case can double as a wrongful death suit.

What Needs To Be Proven For A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In order for a wrongful death lawsuit to be successful, you will need to prove that the person would have otherwise lived if the defendant’s actions were different. In other words, your case will be held to the exact same standards as any other form of personal injury case.

How Does The Wrongful Death Lawsuit Process Work?

Now that we have an understanding of who can file, let’s talk about the full wrongful death process. Here’s how it typically goes:

  1. The plaintiff meets with a lawyer who decides to accept the case. Every wrongful death claim starts with a consultation with a qualified lawyer. The lawyer will then determine whether the claimant can file on the deceased’s behalf and if it’s a viable case. If both parts ring true, a case may be filed.
  2. The lawyer then works with the plaintiff to determine the full damages of the suit. This can include pre-death pain and suffering, funeral costs, lost wages, as well as other costs incurred by the grieving party.
  3. The suit is filed, and evidence is compiled. Your lawyer may subpoena doctors, witnesses, as well as first responders in order to gain evidence. Any video or photo evidence that can support your case will be used as well.
  4. A court hears the complaints put forth by the plaintiff and determines fault. If the defendant is found at fault, the courts will award the plaintiff a judgment. If the defendant is not found liable, the plaintiff will lose the case.

Are Wrongful Death Lawsuits Hard To Win?

It depends from case to case, but generally speaking, they are difficult to win due to the sheer burden of proof.

How Can I Start A Wrongful Death Suit?

If you are curious about filing a wrongful death suit, the first step towards a suit is to talk to a lawyer. At the offices of Scott Senft, our passion for bringing people to justice makes us a force to deal with in court.

Your beloved’s life may have been cut short, but that doesn’t mean you can’t seek justice on their behalf. We will work tirelessly to help you while you walk through your legal journey. Give us a call today, and let’s see what we can do for you.