Wrongful death claims compensate families who have lost a loved one because of injuries due to another person’s wrongful or negligent actions. While damages will never fully make up for the loss, a successful claim can remove some of the financial burden and hold the liable party responsible for their actions.
Damages take the loss of companionship, emotional pain, suffering, and other consequences of the accident or violent act into account.
There are many different types of wrongful death actions. However, in the United States, most wrongful death claims relate to one of the causes below.
#1. Car Crashes
Collisions are one of the top causes of wrongful death cases. Car accidents kill over 30,000 people in the United States each year. Drivers who cause these tragic deaths often do so because they are drunk, on drugs, distracted, speeding, violating traffic laws, or otherwise behaving recklessly or negligently behind the wheel.
#2. Pedestrian and Cyclist Accidents
When an accident occurs, pedestrians are at risk of death. One factor that has led to the rise in pedestrian deaths is that a greater number of drivers are choosing to use large SUVs and trucks. Studies indicate that these heavier vehicles cause more severe injuries and are more likely to kill a pedestrian when an accident happens.
Cyclists are also vulnerable when they’re out on the roads. Some people rely on their bikes to commute to and from work or use them for recreation. However, drivers frequently fail to notice cyclists, especially if they are impaired or otherwise distracted, a problem that can lead to tragic results. For this reason, pedestrian and cyclist accidents are one of the top causes of wrongful death cases.
#3. Truck Crashes
Large trucks create unique dangers to other people on the road. Truck drivers can put others at risk when their jobs require them to travel for long periods of time, leading to fatigue that can make drivers less effective at operating their vehicles safely.
Large commercial trucks can be challenging to drive because of their size and weight. Drivers that operate behind the wheel of such massive vehicles need to be particularly careful. Sadly, truck crashes are on the rise, causing more deaths each year. For this reason, truck accidents are one of the top causes of wrongful death lawsuits.
Some evidence suggests that vehicle safety features and crash avoidance systems can improve road safety for truckers and others on the road. While passenger vehicles often have these kinds of features, few large trucks are equipped with this potentially lifesaving technology.
#4. Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice cases happen when a doctor or medical provider injures their patient or causes harm to an individual that they are treating. These cases are more common than people realize.
Some examples of events that can lead to a medical malpractice claim include:
- Injuries during surgery
- Delayed diagnosis
- Prescription errors
- Failure to communicate risks for a procedure
Thousands of people die each year because of mistakes that their doctors, nurses, or surgeons make while providing treatment. Although doctors are tasked with improving and protecting our health, their negligent errors are one of the top causes of wrongful death in America.
#5. Workplace Accidents
Workplace accidents are common in certain industries. In many cases, work-related fatalities are the result of failures on the part of an employer. For instance, if a company fails to train their employees properly, neglects to provide proper safety equipment, does not maintain safe workplace practices, or allows damaged equipment to be used, the employees may suffer the consequences.
Industries in which workplace accidents are top causes of wrongful death include construction, industrial services, manufacturing, and factory work. Sometimes, traffic-related incidents can also be work-related, as is the case when a delivery person or a truck driver dies in a collision.
#6. Product Liability
Product liability claims occur when a product is defective, causings injuries or death to an individual that uses the device as intended or in a predictable way. The defect may occur during the design process, in manufacturing, or after distribution.
If an individual took a medication that became contaminated during the manufacturing process and the contaminated substance caused fatal injuries, a wrongful death suit could potentially be filed against the manufacturer.
In recent years, defective airbags that were manufactured by the now-bankrupt company Takata killed more than two dozen people worldwide. The airbags exploded with too much force because the chemical compound used to inflate the airbags could break down and become unstable. This is another example of a products liability wrongful death circumstance.
#7. Criminal Cases
Some types of wrongful death actions relate to criminal violations. One example of a wrongful death claim that relates to a criminal case would be if a victim of sexual assault committed suicide because of the harm that the perpetrator caused them. Other times, a person may intentionally injure or kill another individual through an act of violence. The wrongful death action in that case would be separate from and in addition to the criminal prosecution.
Filing a Wrongful Death Action
A wrongful death action is a type of civil case in which surviving family members can recover damages for their loss. The burden of proof is not as high for civil claims as it is for criminal convictions. Although there are additional types of wrongful death cases, these are the most common. To file a suit, families can reach out to an experienced attorney to build a case against the liable party.
SENIOR PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY & FIRM FOUNDER
Michael Pines is a former insurance company attorney who graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1987. While he was an insurance attorney, he learned from behind the scenes how insurance companies work and how they decide how much to pay injured people. Now that he works against insurance companies, Michael’s inside knowledge has resulted in significant benefits to his clients injured in car accidents. Learn more about Michael Pines