My relative died. Do I have a claim for personal injury?
- July 26, 2016
There are few things worse than losing someone you love in an accident, but the pain becomes even stronger when the accident was the fault of another individual. In the even that your relative has died due to the negligent actions of someone else, you may be wondering if you can file a personal injury claim to help cover the various bills, losses, and emotional distressed caused by the loss of your loved one.
Unfortunately, when a death is involved, you do not qualify for filing a personal injury case. But while you may not meet the basic requirements for a personal injury case, you are not at a complete loss. Instead, you may have a wrongful death claim on your hands.
The Difference Between Personal Injury and Wrongful Death
The fundamental components of a personal injury case and a wrongful death case are extremely similar. In both instances, the mistake or negligence of another individual lead to an injury that caused harm. Whether there were high medical bills, lost wages, or pain or suffering, the injury received from the accident diminished the quality of life for the hurt individual.
The difference between a personal injury case and a wrongful death case comes if the injured individual lives or dies because of the damages. If your loved one has passed away, the case would not be a personal injury case, it would be wrongful death.
If you began filing a personal injury claim before the individual passed away from the injuries, you would need to end the personal injury claim and refile a wrongful death claim. A death of the injured individual can also put an end to the action of a personal injury claim. In most cases, a family member or other representative would work to define their deceased love on in a wrongful death claim.
Understanding Wrongful Death
Although a personal injury claim and a wrongful death claim begin largely the same way, the cases do tend to have some major differences. One of the biggest changes you may see when you switch from a personal injury case to a wrongful death case is in the damages or harm that you are able to claim.
When you file a personal injury claim, you are probably looking for compensation in three different areas. First being in the medical bills for past, present, and future treatments you will need to rectify the injury and increase your quality of life. Second, you are claiming lost wages for missed work while dealing with your injury. Finally, you are probably seeking compensation for pain and suffering caused by the injury.
In the event that your case moves from a personal injury case to a wrongful death case, the harm and damages can change. In the case of medical bills, there will be no future treatments, specialists, or medications that you will need to plan to pay. The compensation you receive in the medical area is primarily for covering past treatments and procedures.
Lost wages in a wrongful death case will also look different. Rather than considering the days missed for medical appointments or because you were unable to perform your job duties, lost wages in a wrongful death case will look at the future earning potential that the deceased had. In most cases, the lost wages in a wrongful death case will be much higher than in a personal injury case.
Finally, because the injured individual has passed away, pain and suffering can no longer be claimed. Instead, a court may look at the funeral costs or other expenses associated with the passing of the individual.
If you have lost a loved one due to the carelessness of another individual, you are entitled to compensation and assistance to cover the financial burden left for the injured individual’s survivors, but it is important you understand the basics of the claim you are looking to file. If you have any additional questions about the difference between personal injury claims and wrongful death claims, an expert personal injury attorney can help you throughout the process. Contact an injury attorney in Los Angeles to get started on your personal injury or wrongful death claim as soon as you can.