When we think about people being responsible for the deaths of others, our minds often immediately stray to the potential criminal nature of these events. Homicide indeed covers criminal matters like murder and manslaughter, but there is a civil legal matter involving someone’s death that may or may not coincide with these circumstances.
When someone is responsible for another person’s death, however it occurred, they can be held liable in civil court through a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death claims are different because the plaintiffs are often the loved ones of the deceased who are suing for financial compensation as a result of their loved one’s death. If the plaintiffs win, the defendant will not face jail or prison – unless criminally convicted – but will be responsible for dispensing compensation to the plaintiffs.
Four Things You Should Know About Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If you are considering whether or not to file a wrongful death claim, you should be sure you have a strong understanding of what it will entail. By arming yourself with as much information as possible now, you can save valuable time when you consult with an attorney about your claim and pursue a lawsuit.
1. Wrongful Deaths Are Caused by Intentional, Reckless, or Negligent Conduct
When someone is responsible for another person’s death, the law says they must have acted in an intentional, reckless, or negligent manner. These three qualities are important because any wrongful death lawsuit will rely on proving the defendant acted – or failed to act – in such a way that they should assume civil responsibility for what happened to the deceased.
2. Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Kansas?
Not just anyone can file a wrongful death claim. If this was possible, the courts would be stacked with paperwork anytime a celebrity died under unfortunate circumstances. Instead, Kansas law states only the legal heirs of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim in court.
This means that the plaintiffs may have any of the following relations to the deceased:
- Surviving spouse
- Surviving children
- Surviving parents or grandparents
- Surviving siblings
3. What Are the Possible Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A person’s death can represent a number of economic losses incurred against their closest relatives. These damages are those that have a discrete and (usually) easily discernable value.
Economic damages can include the following:
- Medical bills leading up to someone’s illness or injury that resulted in death
- Funerary and burial expenses
- Lost wages incurred between an accident and the deceased’s death
- Lost wages the deceased would have earned had he or she lived
- Value of the services the deceased ordinarily performed around the home
- Costs associated with repairing or replacing any property that was damaged in the accident
There is no limit to how much money can be sought in economic damages, primarily because these are compensatory in nature. In other words, the state doesn’t put a cap on economic damages because the goal is to regain what was lost or would be lost as a result of the wrongful death.
People can also pursue non-economic damages, which account for things that don’t really have an objectively discernable cost. These are capped at $250,000 in compensation.
Examples of non-economic damages include the following:
- Survivors’ mental anguish, suffering, and bereavement
- Loss of marital care, advice, counsel, or attention
- Loss of society, comfort, care, and protection
- Loss of familial care or affection
- Loss of parental care, guidance, education, and training
It’s important to note that all of the above-mentioned items are related to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, not the deceased. In a wrongful death lawsuit, it is not possible to pursue economic damages related to the deceased themselves, such as their pain and suffering or mental anguish prior to death.
4. How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Kansas?
If a loved one died as a result of someone else’s actions or negligence, it’s important to act fast if you wish to hold them accountable in a lawsuit.
The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim in Kansas is two years from the date of the deceased’s death. If you surpass this deadline without filing, you will lose your chance to sue the responsible parties for the compensation you and your family need and deserve.
Do You Need Legal Representation?
When you need help filing your wrongful death claim and pursuing recovery of damages in a lawsuit, you can count on Bertram & Graf, L.L.C. to provide the competent and experienced legal counsel you require.
We have helped many clients in situations such as yours, and each has received a personalized level of service that increased their odds of success. No attorney can guarantee results, but rest assured that you’re in capable hands when you choose Bertram & Graf, L.L.C. to represent your claim.
For more information about us and our services, please contact us online or call (888) 398-2277.