The underlying reasons to pursue a wrongful death case often include financial benefits, the desire for justice, and the wish to punish the guilty party for negligence or malpractice. But the technical grounds for filing such a lawsuit may vary depending on the contributory factors and defendants.
For example, you might sue both the driver who caused the accident and the city planners who designed a road with inadequate warnings of risky driving areas. You might sue the auto manufacturer, as well, if a mechanical failure caused the crash.
According to the Morris Bart law firm, most wrongful death cases settle outside the court. It doesn’t mean they are easy to prove. In fact, wrongful death is among the most difficult issues plaintiffs and lawyers have to deal with in the legal framework. The victims are not among us anymore to tell their stories, and “blaming the victim” is a defense practice the other party’s lawyers will try to push incessantly. However, just because wrongful death is a tricky issue doesn’t mean you should not pursue it if you want justice. You just need reputable and experienced attorneys.
Seeking Validation after the Death of a Loved One
Wrongful death rulings enter the public domain, and they can show the public that the law held someone accountable for your loved one’s wrongful death. For many people, such public recognition is more important than any financial compensation. For this reason, in many legal dramas, you see plaintiffs asking for official, on-the-record apologies.
However, an award or settlement is often critical for keeping the victim’s family afloat by making up for the loss of income and providing the necessary funds for kids’ college, homeownership, and other important life milestones.
The most common reasons to file a wrongful death claim include the following cases.
- Caregiver Malfeasance
There are many ways that caretakers can contribute to a patient’s early death. These include shirking their responsibilities, engaging in harassment, and making genuine errors in medication administration or treatment options. Even terminally ill patients shouldn’t be given improper treatments.
Many people blame nursing homes for deaths caused by isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic. During lockdowns, nursing home residents were trapped in their rooms without social connection, and many elderly patients lost the will to live.
Nursing home abuse, negligence, and wrongful death represent a major crisis for the legal system in the United States. If you suspect a family member died due to caregiver negligence or malfeasance, you should take matters to a specialized attorney.
- Physician Malpractice
Many physicians work double shifts during emergencies, and the work is complex enough that exhausted doctors make mistakes. These include encouraging unnecessary procedures or prescribing an unorthodox treatment.
GPs make errors regularly when prescribing medications, such as failing to acknowledge negative interactions with other medications or the risk of causing congenital disabilities in pregnant women.
- Unsafe Workplace
The workplace can generate myriad situations that may lead to wrongful death. Some of the top workplace causes of death, according to OSHA, include:
- Faulty equipment
- Falls caused by unprotected sides or holes, tripping over carelessly placed tools, etc.
- Being struck by a falling object
- Electrocutions caused by faulty installation, wet conditions, or exposed wires
- Getting caught in an automated machine or between two unyielding surfaces.
- Negligent Drivers
Vehicle accidents include cars, trucks, bicycles, and self-driving vehicles. If the other driver bears even partial liability, you can sue on behalf of the deceased’s estate. Negligent or reckless driving is among the most common reasons for wrongful death lawsuits. Such lawsuits can go in parallel with criminal lawsuits if the state decides to bring criminal charges to the at-fault driver.
The common causes of wrongful deaths on the road include drunk driving, disobeying traffic signs and signals, speeding, driving recklessly, and distracted driving. Negligence is an umbrella term that describes the potential grounds for a lawsuit most succinctly.
- Product Liability
Defective products are frequently used as grounds for wrongful death lawsuits. For example, products might be defective, and manufacturers may fail to warn consumers of the risks or provide incomplete operating instructions. In some cases, you could sue the retail store where you bought the product from, the product manufacturer, or the distributor.
- Criminal Acts
Criminal acts that contribute to suicide or the accidental death of another person can be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. These types of acts include sexual molestation, bullying, and stalking. If history serves to our learning, we have to mention O.J. Simpson. He was free to go after his acquittal of two counts of murder. On the other hand, we all remember the civil lawsuit where a jury found him liable and ordered him a wrongful death judgement in the size of millions.
Chief Challenges of a Wrongful Death Case
One of the challenges of pursuing a wrongful death case is bringing other beneficiaries into the case since you are working on behalf of the deceased’s estate. If not, you risk competing lawsuits unless you’re the sole beneficiary of the estate.
Another challenge is determining the type of damages to seek, including the victim’s affected work history, lost income, lost opportunities for career advancement, and punitive damages.
An experienced wrongful death attorney can help the grieving family face all of these challenges and overcome any other obstacle that might come their way when seeking justice. For more info on what to expect when pursuing a wrongful death case and the amount of compensation you might be due, check out the law firms in your state. As you know by now, laws vary from one state to the next (cities and counties, too), so you need a firm with a strong grasp on the laws, procedures, regulations, and exceptions in your state.