How Do I Sue Someone for a Wrongful Death?

How Do I Sue Someone for a Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death suit is an action that is brought against another party when someone dies or is killed as a result of negligence. In these cases, it’s usually the surviving members of the victims’ families that bring the suit. It’s not unusual for them to file a wrongful death suit after the at-fault party was tried in a criminal trial. A wrongful death claim is a civil action and therefore requires a much lower standard of proof as compared to criminal verdicts. This is why someone can be found innocent in a criminal trial but be held accountable in a civil trial.

Elements Necessary to Be Successful in a Claim

For a party to be successful in a wrongful death action, the following elements must be proven:

  1. The death of a person.
  2. The death was caused by another’s negligence or by someone who intended to do harm.
  3. The surviving family members are suffering monetarily from this death.
  4. The court must appoint a personal representative who was related in a close way to the deceased.

Common Causes of Wrongful Deaths

Wrongful death actions may arise out of a variety of different circumstances. Typical examples include medical malpractice, automobile accidents, criminal events, death during a supervised activity, and occupational exposure to hazardous conditions or substances.

Understanding Pecuniary Damages

Parties in a wrongful death action may seek pecuniary damages. The law mandates that the amount awarded for a wrongful death action must be fair and just to the injuries that resulted from the death. These are the kind of costs that can be calculated in financial terms. This includes losses such as:

  • Support.
  • Services.
  • Prospective inheritance.
  • Hospital, medical, and funeral expenses.

Determination of Monetary Loss

There are many circumstances to consider when defining the monetary loss. Situations concerning a person’s age, earning capacity, and age all play a loss in the pecuniary loss. However, the most important consideration is that of the decedent’s circumstances at the actual time of death. A typical situation to consider is the death of a wage earner. When an adult wage earner dies, it may leave the family in financial turmoil. In this instance, the jury would consider the person’s earnings at the time of their death as well as the future earnings.

Why Proper Legal Representation Is Often Necessary

If you’re a surviving family member of someone who was killed due to the negligence of another party, then you may need an attorney to help you. While it’s possible to present a wrongful death suit to the court without an attorney, it’s a complex legal process. Due to the delicate nature of the situation, there are often lengthy trials, depositions, the ability for expert witnesses, and much more.

Going through a trial of this magnitude can be stressful and overwhelming. Did you know that the law limits the time you have to file a claim? Additionally, not every death qualifies for a wrongful death suit. To help you make the hard decisions, you may wish to consult with a wrongful death lawyer Des Moines IA relies on. Most will provide a one-time consultation for no charge.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Des Moines Injury Law for their insight into wrongful death.