Wrongful death can occur in a number of circumstances, which include:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles in a conscientious manner, such that other drivers, passengers and pedestrians are safeguarded against injury or death by negligent driving maneuvers. Unfortunately, for the approximately 38,000 people who died in motor vehicle accidents in 2008, this was not the case. In addition to obeying traffic laws, drivers must take into account road conditions, traffic flow and hazards and adjust their driving accordingly so as to not operate their vehicles in a negligent or reckless manner.
Medical malpractice is, sadly, an increasingly common cause of wrongful death. Medical and health care professionals have a duty to provide treatment and care in accordance with acceptable standards of practice. Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional negligently fails to deliver appropriate medical care to a patient who consequently dies. The deceased patient’s family members through the decedent’s legal representative can bring wrongful death claims against doctors, hospitals, nurses, psychologists and other health care providers who are responsible for the negligent care and causally related death of the patient.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets forth standards that employers must meet to ensure employee safety. Construction sites, mines and logging sites are most commonly associated with employee wrongful deaths. Fishing, metalworkers, electrical employees and truck drivers are considered high-risk occupations for work-related deaths. Employers may be held liable for a wrongful death if it is proven faulty equipment or improper training by the employer is responsible for the death.
Manufacturers, distributors and retailers are accountable for the products they manufacture, distribute and sell. If a consumer dies from use of a product that has a faulty design or defective manufacturing process, a wrongful death claim against these entities may be possible. In addition, adequate warnings of possible injury or death associated with use of a product should be clearly provided to consumers. Failure to properly do so may result in a cause of action for a wrongful death lawsuit.
A person who commits a criminal act, which causes the wrongful death of another, is subject to both criminal and civil law proceedings. The person does not have to be convicted in criminal court proceedings before a civil wrongful death lawsuit can be commenced. The “burden of proof” is less stringent in civil court proceedings than in a criminal prosecution. Criminal court proceedings are prosecuted by the state, while an attorney retained by the deceased’s family members or legal representative conducts civil law lawsuits.
If you have lost a loved one in an automobile accident or workplace accident, or through improper medical care, a defective product or criminal act, is it important you contact an experienced wrongful death attorney immediately to ensure your legal rights are protected.