Wrongful Death - Law 101
Hello, I'm attorney Kyle Bachus. The legal world is full of overly complicated jargon and terminology that can be intimidating if you don't know what it means. In my law 101 video series, I'm breaking down some commonly used legal terms so you can be informed and confident should you ever need to take legal action.
In this episode of law 101, we're going to break down the legal phrase wrongful death.
What does it mean? And why is it different than a negligence claim? Well, believe it or not, this goes all the way back to the founding of our country, and most of our laws are laws regarding torts or negligence came over from Old England. Well, at the time that these laws were inherited by the United States as we formed as a country, believe it or not, there was no common law, English right to recover if you were killed by somebody acting unreasonably.
There were claims for negligence if you were harmed, but there was an absence of an ability to make a claim if you were killed. As a result of that, every single state of the United States, as they were formed, had to create special statutes to address this hole in what was really a hole in the Old English common law that created the entire negligence doctrine in the United States. And so every state has a statute, and it's called a wrongful death statute. And these statutes all, maybe different, have different requirements, but they define in a particular state what elements you must demonstrate in order to make a recovery if somebody's unreasonable conduct results in death rather than an injury.
What category of death would qualify to bring a wrongful death claim? First of all, we are not talking about a criminal case. We are talking about a civil case for money damages when we talk about wrongful death. And you should know that what we're really talking about is any claim that meets the requirements of negligence, right? Where somebody had a duty, they breached that duty, and they caused the death.
The ability to recover, the amount that can be recovered. The categories of damages that can be recovered are all dictated by the examination of the state's wrongful death statute, and not by the other principles of general negligence that might have been covered in other videos that we've made in this series. If you have questions about a wrongful death, a death that resulted by negligence, you're going to need to speak to a lawyer because these become very technical claims that are dependent on the choice of law and by the specific statute applicable to that particular death.
At Bachus & Schanker, we're happy to answer those questions should you have them. To learn more about other law topics that can help you feel informed and confident about the law, make sure to check out more videos in this series.
Check Out More Videos In Our Law 101 Series
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