When you’re suffering from the loss of a loved one, it can be difficult to think about doing anything — even pursuing a lawsuit over someone else’s negligent or reckless actions. You might also be uncomfortable with the idea that others may think you are trying to profit from your family member’s death.
However, wrongful death lawsuits aren’t remotely about helping someone profit from an unfortunate circumstance. Instead, they serve a few very important functions. Without a wrongful death claim, you may end up facing two very big problems.
The inability to stay financially afloat
Much of a wrongful death lawsuit is focused on a family’s financial losses. If your spouse was the major breadwinner for the family, his or her death could quickly throw your family into a downward financial spiral. If your spouse took care of the home and children, you may need a patchwork of other service providers, including child care workers, to handle the job.
Whatever your family member provided — and could be expected to provide you in the future — was vital and had a value that enriched your life.
The inability to obtain a measure of justice
There’s a huge difference between a civil and a criminal case. When someone recklessly or negligently causes a death, the victim’s survivors are often shocked that the police don’t prosecute anybody. Sometimes, the nature of the event doesn’t exactly meet the narrow definitions of a specific crime under the law. Other times, the act may really be criminal in nature but prosecutors don’t believe that they can convince a jury “beyond a reasonable doubt” of all the elements of the crime.
In a civil case, the standard of proof is much lower. A jury only needs to be convinced that the defendant is more likely than not responsible in order to hold him or her accountable. In many wrongful death claims, that’s the only measure of justice that can be obtained for the victims — which is the primary reason relatives often bring a case.
If you’re hesitant about filing a wrongful death claim, consider these two factors carefully as you decide.