Losing a loved one suddenly and unexpectedly can be a devastating experience. Surviving family members, friends, and other loved ones may be left shocked, heartbroken, and angry.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), unintentional injury is the third-leading cause of death in the United States. In some cases, fatal accidents can occur unexpectedly. Examples include when a person falls off a roof, or suffers an unexpected heart attack or stroke in their home.
The biggest difference between these kinds of accidents and wrongful death is the cause. Wrongful death is the sudden and unexpected death of a person caused by the negligence of someone else. This may include the negligence of a nurse, doctor, dangerous driver, business establishment, daycare center, or product manufacturer.
If you’ve lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, a wrongful death lawyer can assess the details of your case and provide legal advice on your options for recourse.
Types Of Wrongful Death
The term wrongful death can apply to a variety of fatal accidents. However, not every fatal accident may be eligible for a wrongful death lawsuit.
The following scenarios are some of the most common causes that may be eligible for a wrongful death lawsuit:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Car accidents and pedestrian deaths are some of the most common causes of wrongful death lawsuits.
In a fatal auto accident wrongful death lawsuit, the victim’s family members must be able to provide proof that the at-fault driver demonstrated negligent or reckless behavior.
The following are some examples of driver negligence:
- distracting driving (e.g. texting while driving)
- driving without a valid driver’s license
- drunk driving
- running a red light or stop sign
- failing to yield
All motorists owe a duty of care to others on the road. This includes other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Any driver or cyclist who disobeys traffic safety laws may be held liable for the consequences of their actions. This includes wrongful death.
Another type of wrongful death claim is medical malpractice. Medical malpractice happens when a medical professional’s negligence or lack of proper treatment directly causes the death of a patient.
Medical professionals must meet certain medical standards of care in order to protect the health and safety of patients. When doctors, nurses, or medical specialists fail to meet these standards, it can open them up to liability for resulting consequences. Medical malpractice includes treating patients in any way that can be deemed unreasonable or negligent.
Examples of medical malpractice that can cause wrongful death include:
- delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis
- birth injury
- prescription errors
- improper treatment
- surgical errors
Depending on the details surrounding the death, an employer may be held liable for workplace fatalities. Wrongful death in the workplace involves an employee who was working at the time of their death.
The most high-risk occupations for fatal workplace accidents include:
- construction trades
- aircraft pilots
- flight engineers
- refuse and recycling collectors
- agricultural workers
Manufacturers of defective products such as dangerous drugs, defective appliances, and defective medical devices may be held liable for personal injury and death that occurs due to the use of their defective products.
Product manufacturers are required to meet federal safety guidelines during the manufacturing and marketing processes for new products. Violating consumer protection laws can open the manufacturer up to lawsuits, and in some cases, punitive damages such as fines and prison time.
Violent criminal attacks can become the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit if the surviving loved one is able to identify the person or party responsible. Common examples of crime-related wrongful death include stabbings, fatal gun wounds, blows to the head, and other deadly forms of assault.
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Basic Elements Of A Wrongful Death Case
Wrongful death lawsuits can be pursued by surviving loved ones of those who believe their loved one’s death was caused by the negligence of another party.
The most basic element of a wrongful death case is proof of liability.
To sue another party for wrongful death, you must be able to present proof that:
- the fatal accident occurred
- the liable party owed the decedent a duty of care
- the liable party breached this duty of care (e.g. violated traffic safety laws)
- the fatal accident was caused by this breached duty of care
- surviving loved ones suing for wrongful death have suffered emotional, physical, and/or financial consequences
The types of damages that are awarded in wrongful death cases can vary according to the nature of the death. Surviving loved ones may be able to recover financial compensation for damages such as pain and suffering, funeral expenses, burial expenses, and medical bills.
It’s important to remember that every wrongful death case is subject to a statute of limitations, or time limit on filing a claim, so it’s crucial to act fast when considering filing a claim.
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Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by a representative of the decedent (deceased person) who has suffered as a result of the death. This representative is usually a family member or spouse.
Examples of people who may sue for wrongful death include:
- child (including step-children and adopted)
- life partner
- financial dependent
- parents of a deceased child
Some states also allow individuals such as distant family members and non-blood relatives who have suffered financial damage to sue on behalf of their deceased loved one.
If you are not an immediate family member of the decedent, a personal injury attorney can determine your eligibility for filing a wrongful death claim based on your state’s wrongful death laws.
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At Florin|Roebig law firm, our wrongful death attorneys have a strong track record of fighting on behalf of clients who have lost their loved ones in fatal accidents such as car crashes, incidents of medical malpractice, and violent crime.
Our wrongful death attorneys are committed to treating clients and their families with compassion and transparency. We aim to help individuals recover compensation for the wrongful death of their loved ones.
Don’t wait to learn what our lawyers may be able to do for you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your case.