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What is a Wrongful Death?

Published at May 26, 2020 by administrator.

The term “wrongful death” is used in a variety of situations, but although the meaning can be broad, the underlying term is similar in most legal proceedings. Wrongful death is a civil action filed in the court where damages are sought against a person or entity for causing the death of someone. There does not need to be a criminal case for a civil wrongful death case to be initiated.

In the United States, unintentional injury deaths were reported to be over 160,000 in 2017. There are many different circumstances in which a party could be held responsible for wrongful death. A lawyer can help assess your specific circumstances and determine if a legal case is warranted.

Keep reading to find the answer to the question, “what is a wrongful death?”

What You Need to Know about Wrongful Death

A lawyer explaining the details of legal documents.

A wrongful death occurs when somebody is killed, so there are cases where criminal prosecution is warranted. The term is used more often in civil actions though, as other terms such as manslaughter, 1st – 3rd degree murder, and negligent injury are used in criminal cases.

There are innumerable incidents where wrongful death can occur. These situations range from a private person-to-person situation all the way up to large-scale occurrences like plane crashes. 

Some examples where these types of cases have been filed include:

  • Fistfights
  • Slip and fall incidents
  • Car accidents
  • Earthquakes
  • Equipment malfunctions
  • Potholes
  • Terrorist attacks

In a wrongful death lawsuit, the burden of proof is not on an innocent or guilty plea. Instead, wrongful death cases determine if a person, company, or other entity was negligent in actions that they should have taken to prevent the accident or incident.

Anyone can bring a wrongful death claim against another party. Because this is a civil action, the case is assessed by the evidence each party enters into the court record and not specifically on criminal evidence that may have been gathered.

Coping with the Wrongful Death of a Loved One

Street signs listing the five stages of grief.

One of the most difficult aspects of a wrongful death incident is learning to cope in the aftermath. Grieving can be much harder when a loved one was suddenly taken from you or if there are circumstances that you believe could have changed the outcome.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is a respected counselor who teaches that there are five main stages to the grieving process. Each stage may come in waves. They may come quickly, out of order, and will not make the grief process faster. Understanding the basics of these grieving stages can help you cope with the difficult progression of dealing with the wrongful death of a loved one though.

Stage One – Denial – In this stage, numbness and overwhelming emotion take over. It is often accompanied by statements like, “I can’t believe this happened.” Or “I feel like they will walk through the door any moment.”

Stage Two – Anger – Especially in a wrongful death situation, you will feel anger. This is normal. Being angry at the situation, at the negligent party and even at the person who has died is all a normal part of this stage.

Stage Three – Bargaining – You will know this stage because of the internal thoughts that are prominent. “What if I had done this…” or “Please, if they could just come back,” are common statements in this stage. Bargaining is a negotiation with your feelings and just like the other stages this one may come and go many times in the grieving journey.

Stage Four – Depression – The stress of losing a loved one can quickly thrust an individual into this stage. Depression due to grief is different than clinical depression and is a normal process that people go through. Signs of depression may be withdrawing from life, living in a fog, excessive crying, sleeping too much, or not sleeping enough.

Stage Five – Acceptance – The idea of acceptance does not mean you are OK with the loss of your loved one. This stage is more about accepting the reality that your loved one is gone and moving forward physically and emotionally without them in your life.

At any point in the grieving process, you may find the assistance of a counselor helpful. Counselors are trained to assist you in working through the grief stages. They will listen to your feelings, thoughts, and concerns and help you make a plan for coping. You can call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for referrals to community-based counseling in your area.

Shane Stafford Can Help

The Stafford Law Firm has a team of lawyers ready to assess your situation. Because every wrongful death case is unique, it is necessary to go over the details thoroughly before deciding to bring a lawsuit.

Your attorney will provide empathy and a caring ear as we learn more about the circumstances in your case. No one should have to deal with the wrongful death of a loved one on their own. We are here to help you.Contact the Stafford Firm for a free consultation today!

We can walk you through the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. We are open Monday – Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. You can reach us by calling (561) 540-4533 or visiting us at 2290 10th Avenue North, Suite 302, Lake Worth, Florida 33461

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