Losing a loved one is a painful experience, particularly if their death could have been avoided. Sadly, many deaths in our state occur due to another person’s negligent actions. If a loved one passed away in an accident, there is a good chance that one or more parties are liable for their death. Many cases involving car accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice or workplace accidents are caused by negligent drivers, property owners, physicians and supervisors. However, some wrongful death cases, such as assault and battery, involve intentional wrongdoing.
While nothing will ease the pain of losing a loved one, filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the person or persons responsible for their death can help the family left behind recover financially during this difficult time. In order to have the best chance at recovering wrongful death damages, one must prove a few basic elements in court. First, establish a legal right to bring a wrongful death claim in Hawaii. Under state law, surviving spouses, children, parents, a personal representative of the deceased estate and other parties that were financially dependent on the deceased can bring a wrongful death claim within two years of the person’s death.
Next, show that the loved one’s death was caused by another person’s negligent actions. To establish negligence, show that the party being sued owed a duty to the deceased person and breached that duty.
Show that the breach of duty caused the wrongful death. For example, if a driver ran a red light or was speeding at the time of a car accident, it is likely they will be found negligent.
In cases involving intentional wrongdoing, show that the other person acted with the intent to harm. And, if one successfully establishes these elements, they may recover damages for loss of companionship, medical expenses, funeral and burial costs and other expenses.