The most common causes of wrongful death cases
Negligence or abuse can lead to a wrongful death claim by a victim’s loved ones
Wrongful death cases represent some of the most complex and emotionally charged areas of the law. According to FindLaw, a wrongful death is caused when a person or party’s negligence or misconduct leads to the death of another person. Unlike criminal cases, wrongful death cases require a lower standard of proof. In some cases, for example, a person may be found not guilty in a criminal case but still be held liable in a wrongful death case. The causes of wrongful death are various and unique, but some of the most common situations leading to a wrongful death claim are described below.
Motor vehicle accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), unintentional motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for people aged five to 24. Car accidents are often caused by other motorists’ negligence, such as speeding, impaired driving or driving while talking or texting on a cellphone. In some cases, poorly maintained roads and highways or vehicle defects may also contribute to an accident.
Nursing home negligence
Nursing homes are supposed to provide care for older residents, but all too often these facilities sacrifice care for the sake of profits. Staff shortages often lead to nurses being put under demanding pressure, which can lead to serious mistakes, such as patients being given the wrong medication. Such mistakes can sometimes prove deadly.
Like nursing homes, health care facilities should provide an excellent standard of care for all patients. In some cases, however, medical malpractice or negligence can lead to a patient’s untimely death. Surgical errors, for example, can cause severe problems that some patients may not be able to recover from.
Many people often underestimate the severity of slip-and-fall accidents, thinking that such incidents often lead to little more than a bruise and a bit of discomfort. For many older people, however, a fall can have deadly consequences. The CDC reports that in 2011, unintentional falls were the number one unintentional injury leading to death for people over 65. In many cases, such accidents are caused by improperly maintained premises, such as sidewalks or driveways that have not been cleared of snow and ice in the winter, thus creating hazardous situations for the public.
Finally, the workplace can prove deadly for many people. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), over 4,400 people in the U.S. were killed on the job in 2013. The construction industry is where most deaths happen, although occupational safety is something every employer is responsible for. State and federal laws regulate safety in the workplace and employers who are negligent about their employees’ safety, such as by not providing proper safety training or adequate equipment, may be held liable in the event of an employee’s fatal injury on the job.
When a person dies because of another person’s negligence, surviving loved ones are often left feeling confused and bereft. While few people in such a situation want to think of legal options, it is important to realize how important such options can be, especially given that proving negligence often depends on acting quickly. A loved one’s death can leave families economically vulnerable, for example, especially if the breadwinner of the family is the one who has passed away. As such, a personal injury lawyer can help grieving families deal with the difficult, but important process of a wrongful death claim.