An American tort law action which claims damages from any person who, through negligence or direct act or omission, caused the death of certain relatives (eg. spouse, children or parent). These actions are commenced under special “wrongful death” statutes because under the common law, there is no right of action for survivors for their own loss as a result of someone’s death. The Canadian equivalent of the wrongful death legislation is generally known as the “fatal accidents act.” In England, it is known as Lord Campbell’s Act.
In other words a wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the decedent was killed as a result of the negligence (or other liability on the part of the defendant), and that the surviving dependents or beneficiaries are entitled to monetary damages as a result of the defendant’s conduct.