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Nathaniel Fick
Nathaniel Fick
Attorney • (410) 321-6000

What is “Wrongful Death?”

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Wrongful death occurs when negligent, reckless, or deliberate behavior causes a fatality. Wrongful death lawsuits commonly arise from the following types of incidents that result in a fatality:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Medical malpractice claims
  • Dangerous or defective products

When a family loses a loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit cannot bring them back, but it can allow qualified family members to receive compensation to ease the financial burden resulting from their loss.

Wrongful Death Claims

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil claim made by the survivors of an individual who died as a result of the negligence or misconduct of another person. Under a wrongful death action, survivors can make a claim for monetary damages to compensate them for the financial and emotional support they lost as a result of the wrongful death of their loved one.


Three types of damages are commonly available to the survivors in a wrongful death lawsuit: economic, non-economic, and punitive.

  • Economic – the value of the financial contributions the victim would have made to the survivors if he hadn’t died, including earnings, benefit plans, inheritance, and the value of goods and services he would have provided.
  • Non-economic – less tangible, non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss of care, protection, guidance, advice, training, nurturing, love, society, and companionship from the deceased.
  • Punitive – damages that are awarded to punish the defendant for especially bad conduct.
  • Interest – some jurisdictions allow the survivors to recover interest on the damages from the time they were incurred up to the time they are collected.
  • Attorneys’ fees – some jurisdictions allow the survivors to seek reimbursement from the defendant for attorneys’ fees and costs incurred from the lawsuit.

Because wrongful death actions typically involve complex areas of the law, it is often wise to consult with a trusted and experienced personal injury attorney in your area.