Unless you have personally experienced the loss of someone close to you in an unnecessary accident, you will not fully understand the trauma of such a loss. Family members will never stop wondering, "What if my loved one took another route to work that day?" Or, "What if the at-fault driver had decided not to drive drunk that night?"
These thoughts, unfortunately, will never fully go away. However, one thing that family members can do is seek financial restitution and civil justice for their losses through the pursuit of a wrongful death claim. Although no amount of litigation or financial compensation will ever be sufficient for losing a loved one in an unnecessary accident, these lawsuits may help bring a sense of closure.
Types of situations that give rise to wrongful death lawsuits
Not all deaths will result in viable wrongful death actions. Some accidents are nothing more than accidents, and no one is to blame. However, when another party – a person, business or agent of a business – causes someone's death via negligence, criminal action, wrongful behavior or recklessness, the situation could warrant filing a wrongful death action.
Here are a few examples of situations that could give rise to such lawsuits:
Doctors and medical facilities must act in accordance with standard medical procedures as well as adhering to certain ethical codes. When mistakes, failures, actions and inactions occur and cause or contribute to patient deaths, wrongful death actions might result.
One of the primary causes of accidental deaths is from automobile collisions. In these incidents, one or another party could be at fault and liable for costs resulting from deaths and injuries. Other accidents involving motorcycles, airplanes, bicycles, skateboards and all-terrain vehicles (ATV) could also result in wrongful death actions.
When businesses are negligent in protecting their workers, they might be protected from personal injury lawsuits under the workers' compensation laws. However, if the business was grossly or willfully negligent, family members of the deceased workers may be able to pursue wrongful death claims in addition to workers' compensation death benefits.
Any criminal act that directly results in the death of another person can establish liability on the part of the individual engaged in the criminally acting party to be liable. A wrongful death lawsuit may follow.
Death while engaged in a supervised activity
Supervised activities could include group sports, child sporting events, tours led by a guide, zip-lining adventures, SCUBA diving tours and other activities where supervision is involved. The guides, instructors, coaches and tour organizations may bear a certain extent of liability for the safety of the participants.
Was your close relative killed in an accident?
Although many accidental deaths do not give rise to wrongful death claims, if your loved one died unexpectedly, you might want to whether any party was at fault. Others may have been liable for the safety of your loved one, or someone may have caused his or her death out of recklessness or criminal behavior. In such situations, the wrongfully acting party could bear financial liability.