Common Assertions About Wrongful Death Lawsuits: Are They Fact Or Fiction?

Posted on: 19 February 2016

If you're considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you're sure to get a lot of feedback and so-called advice from well-meaning friends and family members. However, not all of the common assertions about wrongful death lawsuits are true. Here's a look at some common ones. You might be surprised which are fact and which are fiction.

You have to file your lawsuit promptly because there's a statute of limitations: FACT

Friends who have told you to hurry up and hire a lawyer while you still can are right. Each state has its own statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits. In most states, the limit is either one, two or three years. In some states, the clock starts ticking when the wrongful death is caused. In other states, the clock starts ticking when the action that led to the wrongful death is discovered. A lawyer in your state can fill you in on your state's specific rules, but one thing is for certain: if you're going to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you need to act quickly.

You can only file a wrongful death lawsuit for a family member: FACT

You might be convinced that your best friend lost their life wrongfully, but if he or she was not a relative, you cannot file a lawsuit. His or her family members would have to do so. Furthermore, you cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit for just any family member. In many states, the lawsuit has to be brought to court by someone who is a designated beneficiary of the deceased. In some other statess, a wrongful death claim can only be brought to court by a designated representative of the deceased individual's estate. Usually, only immediate family members fall into these categories, so you are more likely to be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit for a parent, child, or grandparent than a distant cousin.

If you file a wrongful death lawsuit and win, you get to keep all of the damages: FICTION

Usually, if you win a wrongful death lawsuit, the money becomes a trust of the deceased person's estate. It is then distributed among the beneficiaries of that estate. In most cases, if you file a wrongful death lawsuit, you are technically doing so in the name of the deceased -- so it makes sense that the damages are rewarded to the deceased, or since they have passed -- their estate.

A wrongful death claim is always filed against a doctor: FICTION.

A lot of people have the misconception that wrongful death lawsuits and medical malpractice lawsuits are the same. Any friend who is telling you this is misinformed. While you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against a doctor or hospital if their negligent actions resulted in your loved one's death, you can also file against others who potentially caused your loved one's death. Many wrongful death lawsuits are filed against drunk drivers, assailants and caregivers.

If you win the wrongful death lawsuit, the person responsible for the death will go to jail: FICTION.

While the person responsible for the death might sometimes be jailed, it will not be because of your wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil case. If you win, you will be awarded monetary damages. There may very well be a criminal case filed against the defendant, too -- since many actions that can lead to wrongful death are crimes -- and if the defendant is found guilty, he or she may be jailed. However, this criminal case will be carried out separately from your wrongful death lawsuit. It is possible for you to win your civil case but for the person to be found innocent in criminal court.

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can be stressful and complicated. If you're in the beginning stages of this process, communicate openly with your lawyer when you have questions and concerns, so you can be sure you're getting truthful, accurate information. Follow the link to read more on this topic.