Wrongful Death Lawyer

Wrongful Death Lawsuit

When a loved one dies, remaining family members are forced to deal with extreme sorrow and a deep sense of loss. However, when a loved one’s death is caused by the negligence of another and could have been easily prevented, the family members experience a whole new depth of despair. The difficult grief and pain may be compounded by a burden of financial stress due to extensive medical expenses accrued before death. In addition, there may now be lost household income and no more guidance nor help provided by the departed one.

When the family is dealing with this tragedy, it is not easy for them to turn their attention toward speaking with an attorney about the possibility of taking legal action. However, a wrongful death lawsuit can act as a means for financial assistance during a time when funds may be tight and a way to bring justice to the negligent party.

If this resonates with you in regards to your departed loved one, please let us help you find the justice your family deserves. Dash Injury Law Firm understands your difficulty and wants to offer our service of a free consultation with no obligation. Contact our office to learn how our legal team can provide you with legal support so you can focus on your family’s recovery.

What is Wrongful Death?

When a person passes away because of the misconduct or negligence of another, surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim. The law permits the decedent's remaining family members to seek justice in the form of monetary damages. Any compensation derived from the suit is designed to help relatives who were dependent upon the deceased for support, emotionally and financially.

Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Wrongful death is the loss of life that happens when recklessness, negligence or deliberate behavior causes a fatality. When a person behaves in a way that no reasonable and prudent person would behave if in a similar situation, and this behavior causes harm to another, negligence is deemed to have occurred.

For negligence to be successfully shown in a wrongful death case, certain elements must exist:

  • A human being's death
  • Said death resulted from the negligence of another, or the intention of causing harm
  • Surviving family members suffer negative financial impact due to said death
  • A personal representative has been appointed over decedent's estate

The plaintiff's attorney will gather evidence, conduct research and examine facts in the case to determine that all of the necessary proofs exist. The following must be proven to the court:

Duty of Care – The attorney must show that a duty of care was owed to the deceased individual by the defendant. For example, if a drunk driver ran a red light and killed the decedent, a duty of care is established by showing that the negligent driver was obligated to obey traffic laws and not drive while intoxicated.

Breach of Duty of Care – Next, the attorney must prove that the duty of care was breached when the driver struck and killed the decedent. By showing that the driver disobeyed the traffic signal and violated legal blood alcohol limits, a breach of duty is established.

Causation – Even if the defendant broke the law, and this fact is shown in court, there must be proof given that the defendant's actions directly caused the decedent's death. For example, when the drunk driver ran a red light and struck the decedent, if the decedent had just suddenly stopped in the middle of the road and suffered a heart attack before being hit, the plaintiff's attorney may not be able to prove that the heart attack didn't widely contribute to the death.

Common Wrongful Death Causes

Some of the most commonly seen types of wrongful death that the court recognizes are:

Wrongful acts – this includes violent crimes, whether the individual has been convicted of any criminal charges or not

Negligent actions – failure to follow regular, standard safety procedures and regulations; failure to warn other individuals of potential dangers; or otherwise behaving in a reckless manner

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that deaths from unintentional injury are one of the leading causes of death in the United States for all ages. Among the most common causes of tragic wrongful death are vehicle accidents, motorcycle accidents, plane accidents, product liability, medical malpractice, work accidents, neglect or abuse, train accidents and animal attacks.

Vehicle Accidents
Driving is considered to be a privilege that comes with the responsibility to obey traffic rules, use proper caution when driving, use correct driving methods in adverse weather conditions, and pay attention to others on the road. Unfortunately, auto accidents rank near the top of the list of the most common causes of wrongful death.The National Safety Council found that an estimated 38,800 people died in traffic crashes in 2019.

Some wrongful death lawsuits are filed against the driver of another vehicle, while other suits are filed by family members of a passenger against the driver of the vehicle in which their loved one was riding. In addition, wrongful death claims have also been filed against auto manufacturers for defective items like brakes, tires, seats, airbags and other items that malfunction.

Aviation Accidents
Defects in airplanes can result in tragedies with severe injuries or major loss of life. Additionally, property damage and financial loss can occur due to malfunctions in aircraft. Tragically, there are cases where a pilot was flying under the influence of drugs or alcohol and contributed to the wrongful death of passengers.

Product Liability
This is the area of law where manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and retailers are held responsible for defective products sold to consumers. Among the three classes of product liability are (1) design defects, (2) manufacturing defects, and (3) failing to warn consumers about known or potential defects. In a wrongful death suit, if an individual claims negligence that's connected to product liability, the plaintiff's attorney must prove there was a duty owed, then a breach of that duty, then a resulting injury (wrongful death) caused by the defendant.

Medical Malpractice
This involves negligence on the part of a medical professional in the form of an action or failure to act that results in harm. The medical professional can be a physician, nurse, pharmacist or surgeon. If the medical professional’s negligence leads to death, the decedent's family members can bring a wrongful death lawsuit.

Work Accidents
Some of the most common fatal workplace accidents involve equipment malfunctions, slips and falls, explosions and burns. Work locations where the majority of wrongful death accidents occur include construction sites, mining locations, and manufacturing plants.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has set standards by which all employers are required to function. If an employee is killed due to an accident at work where these standards were ignored by the employer, the family of the deceased can bring a wrongful death lawsuit.

Damages in Wrongful Death Suits

There are several factors the court considers when determining a figure for damages to be awarded to the surviving family members in a wrongful death suit. Among these factors are the type of relationship that existed between the deceased and the survivor, the expected lifespan of all parties, and an estimated figure equal to the deceased's services that now must be replaced.

The relationship an individual had with the deceased can entitle the person to specific benefits. Listed below are the relationships and potential benefits:

Spouse – The deceased's surviving spouse may be able to receive compensation for lost companionship, lost protection, and mental and emotional pain and suffering from the date of the accident.

Child – A minor child may receive compensation for the loss of parental companionship, lost instruction and guidance, and for the mental and emotional pain and suffering from the date of the accident.

Parent – The parents of a minor child may each receive compensation for mental and emotional pain and suffering from the date of the accident. If there aren't any other survivors, the parents of an adult child can each recover compensation for the same reason previously stated here.

All Survivors – Each survivor can recover a figure equal to the value of lost services and support from the date of the accident to the date of death, along with interest; plus all future services and support, now lost. Also, all medical and funeral expenses related to the deceased's accident and death can be recovered by the one who paid them.

The court has the authority to impose punitive damages in addition to the compensatory damages mentioned above. Punitive damages are awarded as a means of punishing a defendant for a serious wrong, and they are appropriate when a person's willful, intentional, reckless, and grossly negligent behavior results in a wrongful death. The hope is that by imposing punitive damages, it will serve to discourage others from similar behavior in the future.

Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer

Dash Injury Law Firm helps families take legal action against the negligent party responsible for the death of their loved ones. Our personal injury attorneys are skilled and experienced in litigating wrongful death lawsuits. We will fight on behalf of clients for maximum financial compensation.

Dash Injury Law Firm provides wrongful death lawsuit services in the surrounding areas of the following locations:

Call Dash Injury Law Firm today at 888-(DASH-LAW) or complete an online contact form for a free consultation.

The information contained in these pages should not be taken as a substitute for legal advice and it is in fact not legal advice, especially as to cases which are highly fact-specific.