Wrongful death is a type of personal injury. But you might be compelled to ask, “if the injured person dies, how can a deceased file a personal injury claim?” Or, “if I’m not the person involved in an accident leading to a death, how can I file a personal injury lawsuit?”
Well, you can. A wrongful death claim may be filed by the loved one of a deceased who died due to the wrongful conduct of another party. To understand this, you must first understand the concept of pain and suffering with regard to personal injury.
Wrongful death: a case of pain and suffering
Personal injury is any harm inflicted on someone due to the wrongful action or negligence of another party. Emphasis on “harm.” Harm in this context doesn’t end with bodily injury. There must not always be a physical injury for there to be a valid case.
If an accident causes you trauma, PTSD, or any other psychological pain, you may have a valid personal injury case. In a wrongful death case, the deceased may be your loved one who you probably depended on for financial support — such as a parent — or intimacy — such as a spouse or child.
Since such a loss causes you mental anguish, grief, and the inability to enjoy intimacy like other humans, thereby detracting from your quality of life, you may sue the at-fault party for wrongful death. This is known as loss of consortium. It’s helpful to have a wrongful death attorney evaluate your case to know where you stand as navigating these situations can get complicated.
Physical pain and suffering
Physical pain and suffering refer to physical medical conditions following an accident due to someone’s negligence. Not all injuries are serious to the point of impairing the person’s quality of life. For example, a scratch. On the other hand, some personal injuries may not be visible but cause chronic pain that lasts a lifetime, such as back pain.
Conditions that pass as physical pain and suffering include:
- Fractured/broken bones
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Brain injury
- Internal organ damage
- Loss of limb
- Loss of pregnancy
- Nerve damage
Any of these conditions can become lifelong, seriously impairing the patient’s quality of life.
Emotional pain and suffering
As mentioned, not only bodily injuries pass as personal injuries. Emotional pain and suffering following an accident can lead to serious distress that can last for years. Imagine someone battling PTSD after a near-death experience. The fright and anxiety can seriously interfere with their daily activities.
Examples of harm that pass as emotional pain and suffering include:
- Cognitive impairment or memory loss due to brain injury
- Inability to enjoy life or depression due to loss of a body part
- Fear and anxiety
- Post-traumatic stress disorder.
Loss of consortium
Imagine rushing a family member to the hospital after an accident, spending thousands of dollars on life support, only for them to pass away later. Also, the deceased will no longer be able to earn and provide for the family they left behind.
When a personal injury accident results in the victim’s demise, their family can sue the at-fault party for wrongful death and receive compensation for the medical bills, lost wages, and loss of consortium.
Loss of consortium is a type of pain and suffering experienced by a deceased person’s loved ones following a preventable accident.
Loss of consortium may include the loss of:
- Spousal intimacy
- Love and affection
- Financial dependency
- Parental guidance
- Household labour
None of these is visible, but they can be obvious and typically border on sentiments and hard data. For example, a woman may file a wrongful death suit when she lost her husband in a preventable accident. Having an experienced wrongful death attorney would be critical to proving your case and how much compensation you’re entitled to.
Proving a wrongful death
To prove a wrongful death claim, you must be able to show that the defendant owed your deceased loved one a duty of care and breached that duty, resulting in the death.
That’s just one step typical of every personal injury case. If you relied on the deceased’s income for your financial upkeep, you will typically get compensation to cover those costs. You may also be compensated for services that the family member would have provided if alive, such as handling chores, their pension coverage, and emotional support. Notably, you would need to prove that you relied on the deceased for those services. Income statements, money transfer records, and testimonies may be involved. How well your attorney appeals to the jury’s emotions will also play a role when it comes to your emotional reliance on the deceased.
No amount of compensation will bring a dead loved one back. But you don’t have to suffer the anguish, financial strain, and emotional pain of the loss while the at-fault party walks away as if nothing happened. If it will give you some closure, speak with a personal injury attorney today.