What is a wrongful death? Is it possible to get compensation for the medical expenses? In New York City and elsewhere, these and other questions are often asked when family members mourn the loss of their loved ones in a fatal accident involving another's negligence or intentional misconduct. Recently, a federal judge tossed out a wrongful death suit against a city.
In Minneapolis, a federal judge dismissed the wrongful death suit filed by a mother whose son died after two incidents with Minneapolis police. According to reports, the son was stunned with a Taser gun when police attempted to arrest him for domestic assault; the son went into cardiac arrest and died. The mother sued the city and a handful of police officers. She claims that her son's death resulted from police retaliation against her son for a police brutality claim related to her son's arrest in 2005.
In a wrongful death suit, family members of the deceased may bring a claim against the individual who caused the death of their loved one. The family members, as plaintiffs, must prove that there was a death of an individual which was the result of another person's negligent actions or misconduct and the surviving family members are suffering a monetary loss as a result of the death of their loved. In some states, plaintiffs must also show that there is a personal representative for the estate of the deceased that has been appointed.
Family members may be awarded damages for their pecuniary injuries. Courts have interpreted this to include medical expenses and loss of financial support. In determining pecuniary injuries, factors such as life expectancy, age and circumstances of the plaintiffs are taken into account.
It is extremely difficult and challenging to lose a loved one, especially when it is caused by another person's actions. However, a wrongful death lawsuit may provide closure and financial stability for family members mourning the loss of their loved one.
Source: Star Tribune, "Judge tosses wrongful death suit against city," Eric Roper, Dec. 20, 2012