A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil case that may be filed when the wrongful actions of another party cause the death of someone else. A wrongful act is any that would have allowed the deceased person to bring a personal injury claim had they survived. In Delaware, if an injured person is pursuing compensation in a personal injury case and then dies, the estate may take over the case and file for wrongful death. If the person being sued dies, the case may continue against representatives of the person’s estate.
Every state has different laws about who may file a wrongful death lawsuit. Generally, some relation between the deceased person and the claimant must exist. In Delaware, the following people can file a wrongful death action:
A wrongful death suit can still be brought even when there is no surviving child, sibling, or parent. In such cases, compensation can be awarded to any person who was related to the deceased person by blood or marriage.
The Delaware statute of limitations gives claimants two years from the day a person dies to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state civil court system. Wrongful death claims may be brought and run concurrently with criminal cases being tried based on the same evidence of the person’s death. Any claims filed past the two-year statute of limitations will most likely be barred from court.
If the defendant in a wrongful death case is found liable for the death of the person on whose behalf the claim was filed, then damages will be awarded. The jury or judge decides the amount of damages that are granted. In Delaware, damages may be recovered for:
The surviving spouse or next of kin may also receive damages for mental anguish. Others who may receive mental anguish damages are the surviving spouse, child, or parent who stand in loco parentis (in the place of a parent) to the person who died. It is not necessary to have achieved this status before the injury to be awarded damages. However, the reverse is not true. Any person to whom the decedent stood in loco parentis must have already had that status as of the date of injury or they cannot recover damages for mental anguish.
If you have questions about filing a wrongful death action, consult with an experienced Delaware wrongful death lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Call 302-656-5445 to schedule a free consultation or contact us online. We have convenient locations in Wilmington and Georgetown to serve clients throughout Sussex County, New Castle County and Kent County.