Personal Injury Incidents that Can Cause Wrongful Death
Personal injury law is a fairly extensive field, and determining an exhaustive list of accidents that might result in wrongful death is challenging. But many incidents that result in wrongful death can be grouped under a few broad categories.
- Workplace Accidents are exactly what they sound like – due to some factor that was unaccounted for in a workplace, someone was injured and died as a result. Workplace accidents are one of the most common causes of wrongful death.
- Automotive Accidents cover a fairly broad umbrella. These can include car, semi-truck, motorcycle, and pedestrian accidents where one or more parties are at fault for the loss of your loved one.
- Aviation Accidents are very uncommon, but they do sometimes happen. An airline may be liable if someone dies due to negligent mechanical failure.
- Defective Product Failures can cause incidents of wrongful death as well. If parts are poorly crafted to save money or come with an unknown risk of injury or death, the manufacturer may be at fault. This category also covers defective or risky pharmaceuticals if manufacturers did not uphold their responsibilities to maintain cleanliness and best practices in production.
- Medical Malpractice occurs when medical professionals fail in their duty to their patients, resulting in their death. Malpractice can include such terrible situations as surgical errors or failure to diagnose life-threatening conditions.
There is always the possibility of outlier cases that still qualify as wrongful death, but the ones listed here cover the vast majority of claims.
Liable Parties in a Wrongful Death Claim
Determining fault in a wrongful death claim can vary wildly, depending on the type of claim being made. Some commonly responsible parties in wrongful death cases include the following:
- Medical Providers in medical malpractice cases.
- Government Agencies that failed in their responsibilities to mitigate risk, such as ensuring that highways are properly lit or maintained or that the correct signage is in place and visible.
- Third Parties that contribute to the circumstances of a workplace accident, such as equipment manufacturers or coworkers who acted negligently.
- Defective Product Manufacturers, if a product caused an accident resulting in death.
- At-Fault Drivers in cases of most automotive accidents that deal with negligence.
As before, this list isn’t exhaustive. But if your loss falls under one of the categories previously mentioned, one of these parties is likely responsible.
How are Wrongful Death Claims Investigated?
Claimants must prove wrongful death claims in a court of law, which means compiling a body of evidence. Proving a claim is not your responsibility as a claimant; your attorney is the one who will take on the duty of investigating the incident at length. This means securing necessary evidence, including paperwork and incident reports, film and photo documentation, witness testimony, and other critical details. An attorney can use evidence to draw a line of fault to the guilty party.
Damages You Can Recover in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Three major categories of damage come to bear in wrongful death cases.
- Economic Damages include the monetary costs of dealing with a loss. Medical expenses like ambulance rides, pharmaceutical costs, bills, and other treatment expenses fall under this category, but so do funeral costs. One of the most significant types of economic damages includes calculating a lifetime of lost wages based on evaluating the victim’s earnings and lifestyle.
- Non-Economic Damages refer to the things that aren’t as easy to put a price on. Pain and suffering and loss of companionship and protection are hard to place a monetary value on, but they are just as necessary to rectify.
- Punitive Damages are the least commonly awarded category by the court. These damages are only awarded in instances of gross negligence or malicious intent. Punitive damages are intended to do just that - to punish - and therefore only come to bear in extreme circumstances.