Suddenly losing a family member in a tragic incident is devastating. Unfortunately, the whirlwind of legal proceedings that often follows a sudden death can make processing your grief even more challenging. Although pursuing a civil lawsuit may not be the easiest decision during such a difficult time, it may be crucial to protecting your and your family’s financial security.

If someone else is to blame for the loss of your loved one, an Elsmere wrongful death lawyer can offer guidance and support throughout the process of filing suit. With help from a compassionate personal injury attorney, you may be able to reduce the impact this tragedy has on your family in the short and long term.

Wrongful Death Laws in Elsmere

Any time a “wrongful act” results in someone’s death, Delaware Code Title 10 §3722 allows a civil cause of action to be maintained against the perpetrator. This is true regardless of whether the act constituted legal negligence or a violation of criminal law.

As per Delaware Code Title 10 §3724, this type of case may benefit various members of a decedent’s family, including their:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Children
  • Parent(s)
  • Sibling(s)
  • Any person related by marriage or blood to the decedent if none of the aforementioned parties are available

Who is and is not entitled to compensation in a wrongful death case is an often confusing legal question. Delaware’s wrongful death statute can be counterintuitive at times. That is why it is critical to consult an attorney experienced at handling wrongful death claims to know what claims are available to be made and by whom those claims can be made.

Requirements to File for Wrongful Death

Like any personal injury case, there is a statutory filing deadline for wrongful death actions. Specifically, under Delaware Code Title 10 §8107, a surviving family member must start the filing process no later than two years after the date of the decedent’s death.

In addition, if a deceased person is found to have contributed to the incident that lead to their death, the court could reduce the recoverable damages for the surviving family members in accordance with Delaware Code Title 10 §8132. An Elsmere wrongful death attorney can go into further detail about this potential legal obstacle and help surviving family members contest allegations of comparative fault against their deceased loved one.

What Damages Could Be Recoverable for a Wrongful Death?

The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to allow surviving family members to recover for losses that their loved one’s death caused or will cause them to suffer. Relatedly, Del. Code Tit. 10 §3724(d) establishes a list of damages that may be recoverable through a wrongful death lawsuit, including the following:

  • Loss of presumed future pecuniary benefits like future wages and inheritances
  • Up to $7,000 for funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of services at home, including childcare
  • Loss of spousal and/or child support payments
  • Mental anguish experienced by a decedent’s spouse and/or parent(s)

If a decedent suffered damages between the time they were injured and the moment they passed away, Delaware Code Title 10 §3701 grants their estate representative the right to file a separate claim known as a survival action. The question of whether a survival action can be made requires in depth knowledge of Delaware case law. A skilled lawyer can further advise Elsmere families on pursuing wrongful death claims or survival actions.

Call a Compassionate Elsmere Wrongful Death Attorney

There is no amount of money that can replace the life of your loved one. However, a civil settlement or court award can help ensure that your family member’s death does not leave you and other relatives struggling to pay for newfound expenses and cover for lost household support.

When you are ready to consider your legal options, an Elsmere wrongful death lawyer is available to discuss your circumstances in a confidential setting. Call the legal team at Doroshow, Pasquale, Krawitz, and Bhaya to learn more.