What Should I Do if a Family Member’s Death Was Wrongful?

They say there are two certainties in life, and neither one is appealing. Paying taxes is more of an annoyance than anything else. Coping with the death of a loved one can trigger a wide range of emotions, among them grief, anguish, and loneliness. When one or more acts of negligence take the life of a loved one, sadness morphs into unbridled anger.

If a loved one dies because of the carelessness of another party, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. Although money will never make up for the loss of a loved one, it can help you pay for expenses such as medical bills and the costs associated with a funeral.

There is also the issue of criminal intent in a case that involves the loss of a loved one. Prosecuting a wrongful death as a type of homicide might lead to a guilty verdict. However, you still have the right to file a civil lawsuit that seeks just compensation for your deep loss. The burden of proof for a civil case is much less than it is for a criminal case.

At Morgan & Morgan, we have helped many clients cope with the loss of a loved one by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. What to do if a family member’s death was wrongful includes scheduling a free case evaluation with one of our experienced wrongful death attorneys. Not only will we create a strategy to get you justice, but we also are there to provide emotional support. It is not just about dollars and cents.

It is also about your well-being.

More answers to commonly asked questions

You have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit because you lost a loved one because of the negligent act or acts of another party. Each state has established the rules that define who qualifies to be a plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit. When you meet with one of our wrongful death lawyers, we will determine if you are eligible to file a lawsuit according to the guidelines created by state law.

The most common set of guidelines for determining eligibility follows a succession of family members. First, if a spouse is alive, the spouse has the right to assume the role of the primary plaintiff. If a spouse has passed away, state law dictates who succeeds the deceased spouse to become the primary plaintiff. Many states pass the legal torch to children and if there are no children, then to a designated sibling.

Unfortunately, death caused by an accident or the recklessness of another party is a common event in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional injury deaths rank as the fourth leading cause of death in the country

Dealing with the death of a loved one is life’s most difficult event. When a death is labeled wrongful, dealing with the passing of a loved one ushers in a flood of hostile emotions. Knowing what to do if a family member’s death was wrongful includes understanding how the most common types of wrongful death cases unfold in a courtroom.

Auto Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents lead to tens of thousands of fatalities each year in the United States. Many of the accidents are caused by the negligence of another party. Acts such as texting and driving and consuming a meal on the fly distract drivers, which can lead to a dangerous incident like a fatal auto collision.
The key to proving negligence in a car accident case is to obtain traffic camera footage taken at the time of the accident. Witness accounts can also confirm whether the other driver committed one or more acts of negligence. Reviewing the official police report determines negligence in an auto accident case as well.

Medical Malpractice

Most healthcare providers possess the skills and knowledge to deliver high-quality medical care. However, human error is a major problem for even the best nurses and doctors. Issues such as fatigue and an overwhelmed staff can lead to serious misjudgments that cause the death of a loved one. Misdiagnosing a medical condition and failing to diagnose a medical condition rank as the most frequent acts of medical malpractice.

Litigating a medical malpractice case involves gathering and organizing every medical record that is associated with the loss of a loved one. The wrongful death attorney from Morgan & Morgan who is assigned to your case will conduct a thorough investigation that includes examining the medical records and interviewing the healthcare workers that are connected to the acts of negligence.

Defective Product

If a loved one died because of a defective product, the manufacturer might be held legally liable for causing the death. Some of the most common examples of a wrongful death caused by a defective product include toxic foods, dangerous medications, faulty motor vehicles, and defective toys intended for use by children.

One of the keep components for building a wrongful death lawsuit that involves a defective product is to determine whether the product contains a warning label. Another key component is to investigate the manufacturer to see if the company knew about the dangerous implications of using a product, but failed to alert consumers about the dangers.

Getting a wrongful death lawyer from Morgan & Morgan is the right move to make when you want to know what to do if a family member’s death was wrongful. To present a persuasive case in front of a jury, we must establish three elements for a wrongful death case.


We must demonstrate that carelessness, recklessness, and/or one or more acts of negligence caused the death of a loved one. Negligence does not have to be intentional for us to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the defendant intentionally committed one or more acts of negligence, then the legal stakes become much higher.


The next element requires our team of highly skilled attorneys to prove the act of negligence caused your loved one’s death. Proving the defendant’s negligent actions caused your loved one to die requires an overwhelming amount of convincing evidence. Some of the evidence that we collect might include testimony from experts in their respective professions.

Breach of Duty

To win a wrongful death lawsuit, we must show the defendant committed a breach of duty. For healthcare providers, a breach of duty is failing to provide a certain level of care. Manufacturers of consumer products have a duty to protect customers from defective and dangerous products. The driver of a motor vehicle that crashed into a loved one has a duty to drive safely by following every traffic law.

As the most serious form of a personal injury case, wrongful death compensation includes the same two broad categories that provide compensation for other types of personal injury cases. You can receive compensatory damages, as well as punitive damages for a favorable wrongful death verdict.

Special Compensatory Damages

Also referred to as economic damages, special compensatory damages pays for the medical expenses incurred before the death of your loved one. You also have the right to ask for compensation to cover burial and funeral expenses. If your loved one was employed at the time of death, a jury can award you compensation for the loss of income and employee benefits.

General Compensatory Damages

As opposed to special compensatory damages, general compensatory damages do not pay you for financial losses. We will ask the jury to compensate you for issues such as the mental anguish and emotional distress generated by a wrongful death of a loved one. Losing a loved one can leave you devastated for an extended period. When the death of a loved one was caused by negligence, the pain and suffering can last for the rest of your life.

Punitive Damages

As the name implies, punitive damages penalize the defendant for committing one or more acts of negligence. Punitive damages typically are lower for a wrongful death case that involves an unintentional act of negligence.

What to do if a family member’s death was wrongful is to contact a state-licensed wrongful death lawyer for legal support. An attorney can help you in several ways.

Conduct an Investigation

Litigating a wrongful death case can be difficult to do unless you collect and organize enough compelling evidence. An attorney investigates your case to determine whether negligence played a role in causing the death of a loved one. The investigation includes reviewing evidence, interviewing witnesses, and reading the official police report.

Explain Your Rights

Wrongful death laws vary among the 50 states, which means you might not qualify for compensation or there is a limit as to how much a jury can award you. State laws also define who is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. During the free case evaluation with one of our wrongful death attorneys, you will learn about the legal rights you have when it comes to filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

Negotiate a Settlement

Before a civil trial begins, both parties meet to determine if they can find a middle ground to settle a case. With the stakes higher for a wrongful death case, negotiating a settlement can keep you out of court, while still getting you the compensation you deserve. Our wrongful death lawyers possess superior negotiation skills.

Losing a loved one because of the negligent actions of another person changes your life forever. Coping with the loss can take years, if not the rest of your life. If a loved one suffered a wrongful death, you have the right to seek justice by filing a civil lawsuit.

Knowing what to do if a family member’s death was wrongful starts by scheduling a free case evaluation with one of the experienced wrongful death attorneys at Morgan & Morgan.