What is Wrongful Death?

April 30, 2015
What is Wrongful Death?

As you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, it can seem that any death is a wrongful death. But wrongful death in the legal system is a specific term. An individual or organization can be sued for wrongful death if their negligence or misconduct caused a death.

More specifically, possible causes of wrongful death include:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Automobile or airplane accidents
  • Injuries sustained at work or on the job
  • Exposure to hazardous materials at work
  • Death during an organized, supervised activity
  • Criminal actions (such as murder or armed robbery)

Wrongful death lawsuits are sometimes held after a criminal case. The burden of proof in wrongful death suits is not as high as in criminal cases, which means that a person may be found responsible of causing wrongful death, even if that person was not charged or found not guilty in a criminal court. Probably the most famous example of this distinction was O.J. Simpson, who in 1996 was found not guilty of murder, but was later found guilty of wrongful death in a civil trial. Wrongful death lawsuits are usually held so that surviving members of the deceased’s family can receive money to cover expenses related to the death (medical and funeral expenses, for example), loss of support/payments from the deceased and other compensation for the loss.

Wrongful death suits can only be brought by a duly-appointed representative of the deceased’s estate, such as his or her children or spouse. (This is different from criminal cases, in which the government charges the person or organization with breaking the law). Every state has specific laws regarding wrongful death lawsuits, including the time limitations and the type of damages for which survivors can be reimbursed. Thus, it’s important to work with an experienced lawyer in South Carolina who understands the state’s laws and your rights.

Contact the wrongful death attorneys at the Hodge & Langley Law Firm for a free initial consultation. We’ll talk candidly with you about your loss and the compensation that you may deserve. Our wrongful death lawyers offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case, and we handle wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you pay nothing up front for our legal services. If we are successful, our fee will be a percentage of the settlement or award we obtain for you; if we are not successful, you will owe us no attorney fees or costs. Timing is essential to ensuring a proper investigation and ultimately pursuing a successful case, so please don’t hesitate to call us.

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