Wrongful Death of a Child: What It Is, And What You Can Do

Death is never easy. Even if we expect it, and we’ve prepared for it, it can still hit us hard. Just ask anyone who’s ever lost a loved one due to old age, or to a terminal illness they knew there was no recovery from. When death is unexpected, it hits us even harder. When it’s a child that dies, though, it can feel unfair. Unfair to the parents, who didn’t get to finish raising them, unfair to the child, who never got to experience so much that life has to offer, and unfair to the natural order of things. Parents shouldn’t have to bury their children, and when they do it can feel like the whole world is coming apart at the seams.

Sometimes these deaths are unavoidable. Accidents happen. However, there are times when these deaths could have been avoided. When that happens, there may be a case for a wrongful death of a child suit.

Wrongful Death of a Child: What It Is

According to The Free Dictionary, wrongful death is, “the taking of a life of an individual resulting from the willful of negligent act of another person or persons.” Wrongful death is also part of tort law, and it is totally separate from criminal proceedings. That means that even if someone is found not guilty of criminal charges for a death, that doesn’t protect them from being sued for wrongful death. The reverse is also true, if civil suit is brought before criminal charges are.

So what constitutes “wrongful” in this case? Well, it can be due to either willful acts, or negligent ones. So, for example, say someone starts a fight in a bar. It starts as a shouting match, and the aggressor breaks a beer bottle over the other person’s head. The blow results in a fractured skull, and after complications, the victim dies. Now, whether or not the individual who started the fight is found criminally guilty for causing the other person’s death, a wrongful death suit could be brought because he took deliberate action that ended the life of another person.

But what about actions that aren’t deliberate? Say, for example, someone got behind the wheel when they were too tired to be a safe driver. They’re blaring music, drinking coffee, and doing everything they can to stay awake, but all this distraction means they don’t see the person in a crosswalk until it’s too late. They hit the person, and the person dies. Even though the driver didn’t do this deliberately, and it was an accident, it’s an accident that should never have happened. Because the driver was too distracted, and should have known better, their negligence may make them a target for wrongful death.

If the victim in either example was a child, then that would be wrongful death of a child. The incident is the same; the only thing that changes is the description of the victim.

What You Can Do About Wrongful Death of a Child

If you have a case for the wrongful death of a child, the first thing you should do is contact a legal representative with experience in this kind of tort law. A lawyer can examine the facts of the case, and determine whether or not you have enough evidence to bring suit, or if it’s a case you would be unlikely to win.

The other thing a legal professional can do for you is to outline what the state’s rules are for who can, and who can’t, bring a wrongful death of a child suit.

The original purpose of wrongful death laws was to put power in the hands of widows and orphans who lost their sources of stability due to the death of a spouse, or a parent. Times have changed since then, and this particular branch of tort law has changed along with them. What that means is that, in the United States at least, only certain people are allowed to bring this kind of suit. Generally speaking, the person bringing the suit has to have had some kind of connection to the dead child, and should be considered a survivor in the legal sense. So, a parent of a child who died due to negligence should have no problem bringing a suit like this, while people with more tenuous connections may not be allowed to.

Wrongful Death Damages

As with any kind of suit, the goal is to win damages from the responsible party. While those damages will not undo what happened, they can help to ease some of the burdens and strain that come as a result of the wrongful death of a child.

Some of the damages that can be brought from this kind of suit, according to All Law, include:

  • Medical costs of the injuries, prior to the wrongful death.
  • The deceased person’s pre-death pain and suffering.
  • Funeral and burial costs.
  • Loss of Love and companionship.

If you find yourself in a situation where you want to bring a wrongful death of a child suit, it’s important not to go it alone. You should be allowed to grieve, and to heal, and to shift some of the burden of seeking compensation to those best able to get it for you. If you find yourself in need of experienced legal professionals who will fight for you, and for the memory of your child, simply contact us today.