Recently, there has been a significant increase in wrongful death cases involving the exposure to hazardous materials such as asbestos.
In many cases, the first hurdle that a plaintiff faces is determining the person or entity they could sue.
The next challenge is the calculation of both economic and pecuniary loss that will be the subject of the lawsuit.
Wrongful Death Liability
Wrongful death is referred to the death of a person due to another person's wrongful actions.
Decades ago, the concept of wrongful death was not recognized as a basis for a legal claim.
In light of recent legislative changes, both state and federal laws have included provisions pertaining to wrongful death lawsuits.
Now, there is a section in every state law that is devoted to this area of the law.
Parties in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Lawsuits need to be filed by a legal representative of the parties who are claiming compensation for damages incurred due to the victim's death. This group of people is called the “real parties in interest.”
Typically, the lawyer who represents the deceased's estate will be the one who will bring the case to court on their behalf.
Every state has its own regulation as to who could assume the role of plaintiff. It could include immediate family members, life partners, dependents and all others who can show proof of financial damages.
In New Hampshire, for instance, family members of victims who died due to mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure in the Portmouth Navy yard are filing wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits against the shipyard owners.
It has been discovered that the workers in this shipyard were instructed to use asbestos as insulation for the ships.
In these cases, a New Hampshire wrongful death lawyer or personal injury attorney could file a mass lawsuit on behalf of the victims.
Personal Injury Claims
Apart from the damages incurred due to the wrongful death of the deceased, plaintiffs could also try to recover damages for the personal injury caused to the victim.
Since these claims “survive” the victim, they are also known as “survival actions.”
The lawyer could file both personal injury and wrongful death actions at the same time. The compensation for personal injuries will go to the deceased person's estate.
Role of New Hampshire Wrongful Death Law Firms
As mentioned, calculating the damages could be the most important and complex element of a wrongful death claim.
For this reason, parties who intend to recover damages often seek the advice of wrongful death law firms to assess the amount of damages that the court would likely grant.
As to the claim for personal injury compensation, courts often consider the following factors: severity of pain, duration of suffering and degree of consciousness. Determining the amount of damages for the wrongful death claim is more complicated.
In many cases, experts' testimonies (actuaries as well as economists) are essential. Their assessment could include the monetary loss of the parties which consists of income and benefits, as well as the value of care by the deceased to the party claiming for damages.
If a parent dies, this could include his services at home such as child care, house cleaning, maintenance and medical care toward his surviving children or other dependents.
Plaintiffs could also ask a lawyer to help them investigate as to which entities and individuals could be sued for the wrongful death of the deceased.
This is particularly important in medical malpractice and product liability cases where the trail of defendants is not clear without further investigation.