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What Qualifies as Wrongful Death Litigation?

by Granny's Mettle

In many cases, victims are usually unable to file a lawsuit themselves, especially when that person is already deceased or suffered huge injuries. In a wrongful death case, personal representatives of the estate of a deceased person are allowed to file a lawsuit against those responsible for the victim's death. Liability may often arise for both negligent and intentional acts of the person responsible.

Damages that may be recovered in wrongful death cases typically include medical, hospital, funeral and burial expenses. Compensation for the victim's pain and suffering are also covered, during any period when the victim was conscious from the time of injury and death.

Losses incurred by the spouse, children, or next of kin of the deceased may also be recovered. These include loss of financial support, loss of service, loss of gifts or other valuable gratuities, loss of parental supervision and guidance, and loss of society and companionship.

Distribution of the damages from lawsuits on wrongful deaths may be done among the heirs of the deceased. However, because the allocation of damages is governed by statute, it is oftentimes subjected to court oversight. Courts are covered by laws of interstate succession with regards to the distribution of damages. Nevertheless, they are ordinarily free to approve and award damages to certain family members who may not be legal heirs of the deceased.

Hence, many cases often have family members fighting with each other on who shall have more control over the representative of the estate of the deceased. The family member who gets more control may decide on who the attorney is and will have greater influence over the distribution of any award of damages.

On another note, one interesting case that is being syndicated in every press available is the lawsuit filed by a couple whose frozen embryo was accidentally discarded at a fertility clinic. This is a case where the parents of the deceased filed a lawsuit, and had a judge ruled for the case.

According to the Associated Press, the couple has the right to file a wrongful-death lawsuit in accordance to the Illinois laws. The judge rules on the case in the opinion that "a pre-embryo is a 'human being'… whether or not it is implanted in its mother's womb." The judge further added that the couple is entitled to seek compensation as any parents whose child has been killed.

Based on the state's Wrongful Death Act, lawsuits are allowed to be filed if unborn fetuses are killed in an accident or assault. This is where the judge based his ruling on. In addition, the law states that "the state of gestation or development of a human being" does not preclude taking legal action.

The couple who stored nine embryos at the Center for Human Reproduction in Chicago filed the suit. Their doctor told them that one embryo looked particularly promising. However, six months later, they were informed that the embryos hade been accidentally discarded.

The attorney for the fertility clinic said that an appeal would be filed by the defendants.

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