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What is a wrongful death claim and how does it help victims?

Surviving family members of a lost loved one killed in a fatal car accident may wonder what options they have available to them following the unexpected loss. A wrongful death claim provides an option for surviving family members to recover damages suffered following the unexpected loss of a loved one because of the negligence of another party. A wrongful death claim also allows surviving family members the option to hold the negligent party accountable for the harm and damages their carelessness caused.

A negligent or careless driver who wrongfully caused the death of a car accident victim may be liable to compensate the victim's family for the damages suffered as a result of the loss. Wrongful death damages may include medical and funeral expenses; the loss of support and services; the lost prospect of inheritance; and pain and suffering damages, among other types of damages.

Wrongful death damages are based on the unique circumstances of the situation and the characteristics of the victim. When determining wrongful death damages, factors that may be considered can include the age of the victim; the condition of the victim; the life expectancy of the victim; the victim's earning capacity; the character and intelligence of the victim; and the circumstances of the surviving family members. Wrongful death actions are brought by a representative for the lost loved one's estate for the benefit of the surviving family members and are generally brought according to wrongful death statutes that can vary by state.

A number of different types of fatal accidents, including fatal car accidents, may give rise to a wrongful death claim on behalf of the victim's surviving family members. The unexpected loss of a loved one can have devastating emotional and financial consequences which is why it is important that victims are familiar with the legal options available to help them during what is oftentimes an unthinkably difficult time.

Source: Injury.findlaw.com, "Wrongful Death Overview," Accessed Dec. 16, 2015

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