In a wrongful death case, there are certain elements that must be proven before an insurance company is willing to pay a claim. Unfortunately, the fact that your loved one died is not enough. If you are planning to file a wrongful death claim with an insurance company, it is important to understand the elements you must prove.
There Was Negligence
Wrongful death cases fall under personal injury law. A key element that must be proven in all personal injury cases is that there was some act of negligence that led to an injury or death. The negligent act is often rooted in the fact that the responsible party failed to take action to prevent a death.
For instance, if your loved one died as a result of being exposed to asbestos in the workplace, you and your attorney could argue that the employer was negligent in following safety guidelines for working with asbestos.
You Have the Right to Sue
There are strict guidelines that dictate who can file a claim for wrongful death. Spouses and children are usually the most likely candidates for filing. However, other people might be eligible to file the claim.
In some instances, grandparents, siblings, and other dependents could be eligible. State law dictates who has the right and it tends to vary by state. Before filing a claim, consider discussing the matter with other family members.
Only one person can file a claim for wrongful death. If an executor or personal representative was not named in a will, then your family needs to select one before moving forward with the process.
You Have Suffered
In addition to linking the responsible party to negligent actions, you also have to show that as a family member or dependent of the deceased, you have suffered. Obviously, you have suffered an emotional loss, but you also have to prove that you experienced a financial loss.
For instance, if the deceased is your spouse, you could argue that his or her death resulted in loss of income for your household now and in the future. In addition to lost income, you could cite the financial challenges you face now, such as paying the mortgage or college tuition for your children by yourself.
Your emotional loss should not be discounted. Although it is impossible to put a monetary value on the emotional toll the loss of your loved one has on you, you can cite the loss of companionship as part of your suffering. For more information, talk to a lawyer like Sarkisian, Sarkisian & Associates PC.