Delaware Wrongful Death Lawyers Providing Help and Guidance to Family Members of Victims
An unexpected death can change the fortunes of a family in one day. Suddenly surviving family members are juggling medical expenses, child care, and house payments without the financial and emotional support of their loved one, plus they may find themselves responsible for funeral and burial arrangements. It can all be very overwhelming and can lead to a financial disaster. It’s even more devastating when your loved one has died as the result of someone else’s negligent actions because grief is often mingled with anger and frustration at the needlessness of it all. At Hudson, Castle, & Inkell, LLC, we have helped many families in this situation file wrongful death cases in order to find the justice and stability they need after their loved one’s passing. We will compassionately handle your case and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Reach out to our firm today at (302) 428-8800 to schedule a free consultation with one of our injury lawyers.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
If an individual dies as a direct result of the wrongful actions of another, whether those actions were intentional or accidental, then a surviving family member is eligible to file a wrongful death claim. There are many different scenarios where this may occur. Any situation where an individual would have been eligible to file a personal injury claim if they had survived is likely eligible for a wrongful death lawsuit. One notable exception is when an employee is fatally injured on the job. Most of these cases must be handled through Delaware’s worker’s compensation program unless their death was caused by the negligence of a third party, such as a vendor, an architect, or the manufacturer of defective workplace equipment. Other examples of situations that could result in wrongful death claims include:
- Anesthesia malpractice
- Car accidents
- Commercial truck crashes
- Defective product injuries
- Emergency room medical malpractice
- Fatal accidents occurring during a supervised activity
- Motorcycle accidents
- Premises liability accidents
You are within your rights to file a wrongful death claim even when a criminal case is pending against the individual who caused the decedent’s death. This overlap may occur in cases of murder, vehicular manslaughter, and others.
Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is meant to benefit those related to the deceased individual who has been, or will be, impacted negatively by their death. Each state has different laws about who is eligible to bring a wrongful death suit. Typically only one suit may be filed per decedent. In Delaware, a wrongful death claim may be filed by people related in this manner to the decedent:
- Parents who were not married to each other at the time the decedent was born, as long as the father had acknowledged himself to be the decedent’s father before their passing
According to the statute of limitations in Delaware, the relative filing the claim has two years from the date of the decedent’s death to file their wrongful death lawsuit.
What Is Necessary for a Successful Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In a wrongful death case, it is necessary to prove that the decedent died as a direct result of an action or choice the defendant made. The process of proving this is similar to litigating a personal injury case, insofar that it must be proven that the defendant owed a duty of care to the decedent, then breached their duty, which caused harm and damages. For a simplified example: if the victim died as a result of a medication dosing error by their doctor, it could be argued to the court that a doctor owes their patient a duty of care as their medical practitioner. They then breached their duty by not diligently and properly prescribing or administering their patient’s medication. That breach of duty led directly to the patient’s death and financial troubles for their family.
The last element of successful wrongful death claims is ensuring that a representative has been chosen for the decedent’s estate. Typically, a wrongful death action is filed on behalf of the decedent’s estate. Therefore, to recover and distribute damages to the affected heirs, there must be a legal representative in charge of the estate’s finances.
What Damages May Be Recovered?
Losing a loved one is a heartbreaking experience. That heartbreak is only increased when the death was caused by the actions of another. It’s difficult to put a dollar amount on that kind of suffering, but the courts must calculate some way to fairly compensate the loved ones of a victim in a wrongful death case. They decide on a reasonable amount by taking into account many factors about the deceased, such as their income, how much their dependent(s) relied on them, and more. For cases in Delaware, this process is quite similar to how the court would calculate damages for a personal injury claim. Some of the damages which may be recovered include:
- Economic damages: These are monetary losses the family incurred as a result of their loved one’s death. This may include remaining medical expenses, lost wages, the loss of future earnings, loss of child support contributions, loss of household services including the reasonable cost of child care, the loss of financial support, and the cost of funeral and burial expenses.
- General damages: This category includes compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and other areas that are non-economic in nature but still have a large impact on remaining family members.
- Punitive damages: These may be awarded in addition to the other damages if the defendant was found to be egregiously negligent or willfully malicious in their actions that caused the death of the decedent.
Why Should You Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Having a family member taken from you unexpectedly always brings grief and sadness. It shouldn’t also bring anxiety about how you are going to provide for yourself and your loved ones. Those responsible for your losses should be held accountable. If you’ve lost the love and financial support of a family member due to wrongful death, Hudson, Castle, & Inkell, LLC can help you get the maximum compensation. Our Delaware wrongful death lawyers are well-known and respected by their colleagues in the legal profession and will work to achieve justice for you and your family. We approach each case with skill, empathy, and honor, beginning with a free initial consultation and continuing with the convenience of flexible appointments. Because we take wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency basis, we charge you nothing unless we win or settle. Please contact Hudson, Castle, & Inkell, LLC, at (302) 428-8800 today.