When one person’s intentional act or negligent actions result in the death of another, a wrongful death has occurred.
The spouse, children, or agents of the deceased may bring lawsuits for wrongful death against the wrongdoers to compensate for the loss of wages or other support they would have received had the person lived. A plaintiff in a wrongful death suit does not have to prove that he or she was completely dependent on the deceased for support, but only that the death results in a financial loss.
Courts do not allow one member of a family to sue another for wrongful death. In common law, a government is also immune from wrongful death suits, although many states allow suits against the state government. Some people who are responsible for wrongful deaths are “judgment proof” – that is, they have no assets or insurance that can be used to pay compensation.