The death of a loved one is never easy, no matter how they died or how long you had to prepare for that event. That being said, it can be more difficult to deal with sudden deaths and deaths that could have been prevented than other eventualities. Knowing what sort of wrongful death, you can sue for can help you determine if you have a case and if you should move forward. For those who lost a loved one to a home fire in Georgia, the right representation matters.
What is Wrongful Death?
To better understand if you qualify to file this sort of lawsuit, it is also very important to know what is considered a wrongful death. Wrongful death is defined as any death that was the result of the careless action or inaction of another person. For example, if you were in a car with someone driving recklessly. They are not following the rules of the road and are not heeding the flow of traffic and other drivers. If there were to be an accident where you pass away, your family would be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit to get compensation.
Not all deaths can be considered wrongful death. In some cases, the circumstances are simply tragic, but they do not warrant any sort of lawsuit or legal intervention. If you are dealing with a death that could have been prevented or that was the direct result of something that a person did or did not do, you may be able to move forward with a wrongful death lawsuit.
Can You Sue for Wrongful Death If You Lose a Loved One in a Housefire?
Put in the absolute simplest terms, in some cases, yes. You do need to look more closely at this situation, however, as some events do negate the ability to file this type of claim. A good place to start is to think about the home itself. Is it the home of the person that passed? If it is their home, it may be harder to prove wrongful death as they are the ones that would be responsible for safety measures in their own home.
Is the home a rental home or an apartment building? This is going to be much easier in terms of proving wrongful death for one reason, there is a landlord that should be taking precautions to help make the home or the building safer and less likely to cause a fatal housefire. This means that they should be making sure smoke detectors work, that all means of egress are open and clear in the home, that there are safety measures in place that make it less likely that someone will fatally die in a fire in that unit or that rented home. Also, the owner of the building should make sure that dangerous materials that might exacerbate the fire or make it spread easier are removed and replaced with safer materials.
In terms of the home, you may also need to look at how it was built. This means common building styles, safety measures, and materials that were used to build the home and construct it. In this case, if you are living in a home where the builder cut corners and did not put enough windows, where they used materials that were more flammable and dangerous, etc., in these cases, you may be able to sue the builder if it can be proven that they did something when building the home that made it less safe.
If the person was killed in a house fire in a home that they did not live in or that belonged to another person and you feel that some safety measure was missed or that the other person caused the fire, you can certainly move forward with a wrongful death lawsuit.
The next factor to look at is the cause of the fire. Was the fire caused by something that another person in the home did or some safety measure they did not take? For example, did they leave a candle burning through the night after everyone went to sleep? You also need to look at things like appliances that might have caused the fire, bad wiring that could be to blame, smoke detectors that failed, sprinklers that failed, and so on. If the fire is the clear fault of another person or some item in the home that was faulty, you can certainly sue for wrongful death. If you have a house fire that was caused by a faulty space heater, for example, you may be able to sue the company that made the heater for wrongful death. If it is found that your loved one was using the space heater in an unsafe manner, you are likely not going to be able to sue.
The last factor you want to consider is the methods used for saving your loved one. If the police and fire personnel were called immediately and they arrived on the scene and worked promptly but your loved one still passed away, you are likely not going to be able to sue for wrongful death. If you feel that they took longer to get to your loved one than they should have, that they did not perform adequate life-saving measures, or that they did something that contributed to the death of your loved one, you may be able to sue for wrongful death.
When to Sue?
Most housefires are simply a tragic case of circumstances that are simply out of everyone’s control and are tragic. You may not be able to place blame for a house fire death and to be able to file for a wrongful death suit, there does have to be someone that is held at fault for the death for a case to be built and for a case to move forward.
The real question is, is it worth it? With a wrongful death suit, it can be traumatizing for everyone to file a lawsuit and to move forward with legal measures. If you are at all unsure or there was an investigation and it was found that no one is at fault, your best bet is to simply do your best to move on and to try to recollect your life after the loss of someone near and dear to your heart.
If there was an investigation and there is clearly someone to blame or someone at fault for the death of your loved one or for the fire that took their life, you need to contact an attorney immediately to start building your case and to figure out your next steps. The reconstruction at a wrongful death suit can be very trying and emotionally draining for those that are involved. Though you might think that a settlement is worth it, unless it is a clear-cut case that is sure to win, it may be more taxing to go through the case and to relive what happened to your loved one than you imagine.
What Sort of Settlement Can I Get?
There is a range of settlement options when it comes to wrongful death suits and to their conclusion. Most commonly, you are going to be able to first and foremost get money to pay all the medical fees that were accrued as a result of the death and the medical care that was used to try and save their life. You will get this money so that you can pay off any medical bills that were associated with the death and then move forward with a clean slate.
You are also going to be able to sue for a sum of money to help with the end-of-life expenses and final arrangement expenses for your loved one. You can get money for a funeral, for the cost of burial, for the cost of a headstone, and even for the cost of cremation if you prefer that method of laying them to rest. This is so that you can put your loved one to rest and start to rebuild your life without that burden hanging over your head. The average funeral today costs upwards of $15,000 and this is an expense that a wrongful death settlement is surely going to cover in full.
Next, you can also sue for pain and suffering that you experienced as a result of the death of a loved one that could have been prevented and that should have been prevented. This can be a very trying thing for the family of the individual that is left behind. You can get money for the pain and suffering that is associated with death.
You can also get compensation for the loss of an income and for the loss of support of children that are left behind. You can get monetary compensation to help care for a spouse that is left behind, for any dependents that might be left behind, and anyone that is directly negatively affected by the death and passing of the individual that was killed.
A wrongful death settlement can be into the hundreds of thousands depending on the individual circumstance of the death. Your lawyer is going to work to prove that the death could have been prevented if things had gone differently and to prove that you are negatively affected by the passing of the individual in question.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
There are limits to who can file a wrongful death suit for a few reasons. This type of suit is limited first and foremost to prevent people that have no relation or no direct connection to the person that has passed from filing a suit and benefitting from their death. The person that files the suit either needs to be the child or dependent of the person that has passed, a spouse, or a close family member. A lawyer can better illustrate what your relationship to the deceased is and can help you figure out if you are able to file a suit or not.
When filing a suit there are a few things that are going to be required. First, it is going to be required that the person filing the suit prove that the death was not an accident and that it can be directly linked back to something that another person did, i.e., being dangerous or reckless, or something that they did not do, i.e., negligence. Your lawyer is going to work to prove that there is something there and that you are entitled to a lawsuit and that you should file a wrongful death suit.
Hiring a lawyer from the start is going to be your best bet as they are going to be able to collect the proper data about the event and help build a case to prove it. By hiring a lawyer early on, you can prevent the loss of data and the loss of information as well as help to get witness accounts when the event is fresh in the minds of those that were present. A lawyer is going to do their best to create a case that proves beyond a doubt that the death was the fault of another person and could have been prevented.
What Can a Lawyer Do?
A lawyer is going to be your best bet when it comes to creating a case that is going to be airtight and that is going to prove that the death could have been prevented. Your lawyer is going to go through a few different steps to prove wrongful death. The first is to prove duty of care. This means that the person that is being blamed had some responsibility to see that the person that passed was safe. The next is a violation of that duty.
This means proving that they did something or neglected some safety measure that could have prevented the death and that led to the injury that caused the death. The next thing that a lawyer needs to prove is that negligence is what caused the death. They are going to have to prove that the negligence or actions of the person in question directly caused the death or the very serious injury that caused the death of the person. The last thing that your lawyer is going to try to prove is that you have suffered as a result of the death of that individual. For example, you are a spouse that has now lost that second income and that support for your family as well as suffering from emotional distress.
Your lawyer is going to work to help prove that something could have been done to change the outcome of the event and that there was clear negligence that led to the death of the person in question. Wrongful death suits are notoriously difficult to prove as the other side is going to try to place the blame on your loved one. This can be very stressful and distressing for you as a family.
Your lawyer is going to work to prove that there was a wrongful death and that you are entitled to a settlement. A wrongful death suit is not going to bring the person that has passed back, but it can help make dealing with their death a bit less taxing and a bit less stressful in terms of having to take time off of work and paying any bills that might be there after the death. A wrongful death lawsuit can help you get on with your life and can help you figure out what your next move is going to be while you grieve the loss of your family member.