You may be having many questions after the death of a loved one thanks to the negligence of others. Pursuing a wrongful death claim may be the last thing on your mind at such times.
Compensation for the wrongful death of your loved one will alleviate your pain and help you deal with the aftermath. For the best outcome, many people hire a wrongful death lawyer in Alaska.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wrongful Deaths
Many questions will likely run through your mind after a wrongful death of a loved one. Knowing the answers to those questions is the first step to protecting your rights and making informed choices. Here are the FAQs about wrongful deaths:
Do I have a Case?
You have a wrongful death if a family member’s death is caused by the negligence of another person. In law, negligence arises when someone with a duty of care fails to act reasonably, injuring others in the process. For instance, motorists have a duty of care toward other road users. In other words, they must obey the rules of the road to avoid accidents.
What’s the Difference Between Wrongful Death Lawsuits and Personal Injury Lawsuits?
Personal injury claims arise if the plaintiff survived an accident. On the other hand, wrongful death claims arise if the plaintiff didn’t survive the accident.
Wrongful death and personal injury claims are subject to personal injury law. That said, plaintiffs should prove the liability of the defendant.
How Can I Prove a Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death cases fall under personal injury claims, meaning they’re based on negligence. Consequently, plaintiffs must provide sufficient evidence to prove their claims. This is done by citing the elements of negligence, including:
- Duty of care;
- Breach of duty;
- Causation, and
What are the Recoverable Damages for Wrongful Deaths?
Each case is unique, meaning the facts of wrongful deaths vary by case. As a result, the recoverable damages will also vary by case. However wrongful death damages include:
- Medical expenses incurred by the deceased before death
- The deceased’s funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of future income
- Loss of companionship and/or parental guidance
- Loss of inheritance—awarded to the decedent’s offspring
- The decedent’s pain and suffering, including mental suffering.
Who is Eligible for Emotional or Mental Suffering Damages?
Spouses and children can’t recover damages for emotional or mental anguish after the untimely death of their loved one in Alaska. However, they can claim damages for the pain and suffering experienced by the decedent before death.
How Much are Wrongful Death Claims Worth?
The value of wrongful death claims varies by case. Generally, the value of a wrongful death claim is based on the costs incurred by the deceased before death plus any expenses related to the death, such as funeral and burial expenses.
Other factors that determine the worth of wrongful death claims include:
- The age of the deceased at the time of death
- The deceased’s life expectancy at the time of death
- The decedent’s health before death, and
- The income they would have earned if they attained retirement age.
The above factor affects the recoverable damages. For instance, a young mother with a successful career will likely receive a higher award in a successful wrongful death case. On the other hand, a retiree will recover fewer damages considering they won’t be awarded damages for future expected earnings and loss of parental guidance.
How are the Recoverable Damages Shared or Distributed?
In Alaska, surviving spouses, children, or parents can file a wrongful death claim. However, priority is given to spouses, then children, and finally parents.
This is how the priority rules work:
- Surviving spouses are considered the primary beneficiaries
- If there are no surviving spouses, surviving children become the primary beneficiaries
- Parents become primary beneficiaries if the deceased has no surviving spouses and children.
The above procedure is only applicable if the deceased didn’t leave a will. If they left a will, the recoverable damages should be distributed as per the decedent’s will.
Who Can File Wrongful Death Claims?
Immediate family members and close relatives, such as parents and siblings can file a wrongful death claim. Also, caregivers can file such claims. Alternatively, the decedent’s lawyer will file the claim. If the deceased didn’t have a lawyer, the family can hire one.
While close kins are allowed to file wrongful death claims, they must have enjoyed a good relationship with the deceased to be eligible to file the claim. In other words, you can’t file the claim if the deceased was your enemy.
Wrongful deaths occur when a person loses their life because of the negligence of another person or party.
If your loved one is a wrongful death victim, contact a lawyer to help you pursue justice.