Losing a loved one is always heartbreaking, but the frustration and confusion that accompany a preventable death borders on traumatic for those left without their family member. Wrongful death can occur while participating in risky activities such as surgery or driving a vehicle, or can happen through use of everyday products such as food or medication. No matter the method, a wrongful death case must always claim negligence on the part of the person who caused the death. Here are four wrongful death claims that families commonly can seek compensation from.
- Motor vehicle accidents. There’s always a certain amount of risk involved driving next to strangers and trusting them to keep you safe while you do your part to keep everyone else safe. Sometimes traffic patterns change, weather causes drivers to adapt to the elements, or construction interferes with a normal route. All of these examples can catch a driver off guard and cause serious accidents. Other times, drivers are just careless by speeding or driving while drunk and cause serious injury or death to a driver who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes families are left dealing with ambulance and hospital bills, a loss of income, and funeral expenses that they weren’t anticipating. This can cause them to seek compensation if that accident was preventable.
Motor vehicle accidents can also involve motorcycles and trucks. Motorcyclists are vulnerable, and a distracted driver of a car, or one who fails to see them while changing lanes, can easily be the death of that person. Truck drivers who cause accidents due to aggressive driving, falling asleep at the wheel, being under the influence, failing to take proper measures in adverse conditions, or driving oversized loads (especially through hilly terrain) can be blamed in wrongful death suits.
- Medical malpractice. We rely on doctors to heal us when we are in our most vulnerable states, but accidents can occur that cause significant or permanent damage, and even death, to a patient. To claim a medical malpractice case that resulted in wrongful death, you must be able to prove a doctor’s negligence or incompetence. In other words, a different doctor in similar circumstances would have to have been able to reasonably avoid the mistakes that led to the death of the patient. Some people who qualify for filing these claims include mothers who lost an otherwise healthy baby in delivery, cancer patients who would have received life saving treatment if diagnosed sooner, patients who were administered the wrong medication or a non-therapeutic dose that killed them, surgical errors that led to organ failure or infection, patients who died from defective medical equipment, and many others.
- Product Defectiveness. Sometimes a product may seem safe to use, but companies haven’t tested it extensively to know the dangers it poses, or a product such as medication could have been processed incorrectly and the patient doesn’t know it until they start experiencing the effects. In these situations it is important to show the direct link between the product itself and the death of the user. In the case of medication, the pills may be tested for potency and ingredients to see if they caused the adverse reaction. Sometimes products slowly poison a person, and it’s hard to pinpoint the source. In all of these cases, the manufacturers are held responsible for the injury or death their products caused.
- Workplace incidents. Some jobs are inherently more dangerous than others, but there are plenty of reasons for workplace accidents that can lead to death. The obvious culprits include unsafe machinery or equipment, faulty transportation vehicles such as cars or trucks, and improperly maintained transportation ships and trains. Even “safe” office buildings could expose workers to mold or asbestos. If there is a correlation to the death of an employee and negligence on the part of the company, a family may file a wrongful death claim. For instance, it must be proven that a company knew about an issue and didn’t fix it or failed to properly maintain equipment that led to a malfunction. Workers are entitled to a safe work environment, so companies can be liable for not meeting those standards.
While this is not an extensive list of wrongful death claim qualifications, they are the most common. If you think you have a wrongful death claim, it is important to contact a lawyer right away. Sawaya Law agrees that the sooner you speak with an attorney, the sooner an attorney will be able to preserve and collect evidence for your claim.