The defective ignition switches in GM cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion are at the center of one of the most high-profile wrongful death cases in recent history. In early July, it was announced that GM’s financial liability for problems caused by the defective switches could climb to billions of dollars. There have been thirteen deaths linked to defective ignition switches so far, but claims in Idaho and elsewhere can be filed until December 31, 2014. GM compensation fund has indicated that there is no limit to what the company will pay, as long as there is proof the crashes were caused by the faulty ignition switches.
What Does a Wrongful Death Suit Involve?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of claim for damages filed by surviving family members of someone who has died due to the negligence of others. Under Idaho law, (Idaho Code section 5-311) claims can be filed against an individual person or a corporation, depending on the circumstances.
Car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian accidents are common situations that can lead to wrongful death suits. However, a claim can also be filed if the death was caused by to medical negligence, product defects (like the GM switch), or workplace accidents.
Wrongful death lawsuits can involve claims for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those which are easily given a specific number value, such as medical expenses for treatment the deceased received before his death, funeral expenses, and the loss of income the deceased provided to his dependents. Non-economic damages are those which don’t have a specific dollar value and are thus open to interpretation, such as damages from the loss of care, comfort and society of deceased. We have discussed wrongful death claims in more detail in this blog post.
Civil vs. Criminal Charges
One of the most important things to remember about filing a wrongful death claim is that Idaho law treats this as a civil action. Liability in a wrongful death claim is expressed solely in terms of monetary damages. The person found to be liable in a wrongful death suit is not punished with any jail or prison time like he would be in a criminal case. However, if the circumstances warrant it, the state may choose to pursue a criminal case based on the same facts as your wrongful death claim.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
If you are faced with the loss of a loved one and need to to pursue a wrongful death claim, you will need to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. In most cases, there is a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death cases. The attorneys at Holzer Edwards are dedicated to representing Idaho residents who have been injured due to the negligence of others. Please call (208) 386-9119 or toll-free at (888) 490-0992 for a free consultation.