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What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

Understanding Wrongful Death Claims and Legal Actions

A wrongful death claim is initiated when someone’s negligence or intentional actions result in another person’s death. These claims are handled in civil court, which is different from criminal court, where cases like homicide are tried. The American Bar Association clarifies that for a wrongful death claim, the negligent actions do not need to be intentional to establish liability.

In cases of wrongful death, unlike personal injury lawsuits, the deceased cannot sue on their own behalf. Instead, state laws usually require that a family member or the executor of the deceased’s estate file the claim. Consulting with a lawyer can clarify if you’re eligible to file such a claim under your state’s laws.

Distinct Differences Between Civil and Criminal Courts

In civil court, the aim is to secure compensation for losses, whereas, in criminal court, the objective is to secure a guilty verdict possibly leading to jail time or fines for the defendant. Even if a wrongful death involves criminal activity, the defendant might face both criminal charges and a civil lawsuit for wrongful death. These two processes are independent of each other and can happen simultaneously.


Common Causes of Wrongful Death Wrongful death can occur under various circumstances, similar to those in personal injury cases. To hold someone accountable, it must be proven that they had a duty to act safely, failed in that duty, and directly caused the death leading to financial losses. Cases might include:


Even situations like deaths in jail can lead to wrongful death claims if the deceased’s estate proves negligence or harm.

In these lawsuits, claimants may pursue economic damages like medical expenses and lost wages, which have a specific monetary value, and non-economic damages, which cover the emotional impact of the death. The court awards compensatory damages to cover these losses, aiming to financially stabilize the claimant’s life post-tragedy.

Legal Support in Wrongful Death Cases

Handling a wrongful death claim can be emotionally taxing. Lawyers not only provide emotional support but also thoroughly investigate the incident, evaluate potential compensation, and advocate for the deserved damages. Our legal team at The Scranton Law Firm works on a contingency fee basis, meaning fees are only collected if we win your case. For guidance and to assess your case, contact us today and speak with a wrongful death lawyer.

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