A wrongful death cause of action may protect family members from further loss after an unthinkable loss occurs.

A man in a neighboring Massachusetts town has pleaded not guilty in a fatal car crash. The fatal accident left a retired school teacher dead. Three of his sons were at the arraignment for the man who has been charged with motor vehicle homicide while under the influence of intoxicating liquor. Police allege that the man was traveling 70 miles per hour when he ran through a red light and struck the victim in his car. The man’s blood alcohol content measured .121 which is above the state’s legal limit of .08 percent. According to investigators, the man had also been smoking marijuana with friends that day. There were several witnesses to the crash.

Those who have suffered the loss of a loved one may be able to seek compensation for that loss of companionship and other damages. A wrongful death is the worst injury that can be suffered as a result of someone else’s wrongdoing. Family members who have lost a loved one in this manner can bring a wrongful death cause of action on behalf of the deceased family member. They can often recover compensation for damages, including loss of consortium, medical and funeral expenses and loss of support or prospect of inheritance.

A cause of action for wrongful death will be brought by the representative of the lost loved one’s estate. Though the representative represents the estate, family members, including surviving spouses, children and sometimes parents, are the parties the representative is acting on behalf of. It is important to understand that each state has a wrongful death statute or statutes that set out procedures for bringing a wrongful death action. Wrongful death actions can also be brought in the case of medical malpractice or when a worker has been exposed to hazardous conditions, among some other situations.

Losing a loved one in a fatal accident to another’s negligence can be difficult and painful. The legal process has resources in place to help with economic, and other, damages that arise as a result.

Source: Boston Globe, “Man pleads not guilty in fatal crash,” John Ellement, Mar. 14, 2013.