According to national statistics, there are almost 150,000 unintentional injury deaths every year, making it the fourth leading cause of death. When the death of an individual is caused by the negligence or recklessness of another, the law allows the family of the victim to file a wrongful death lawsuit against that party (or parties) in order to pursue damages for the losses the victim’s death has caused.
Some of the most common types of accidental death that result in wrongful death lawsuits include the following:
- Bicycle accidents
- Car accidents
- Criminal acts
- Defective products
- Medical malpractice
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Premises liability accidents
- Product liability
- Slip and fall accidents
- Truck accidents
- Work-related accidents
In some cases, there may be criminal charges that have also been filed against the at-fault party, such as in a fatal drunk driving accident. But it is important for families to realize that the lawsuit is heard in civil court, making these two entirely separate legal actions.
Conversely, there are many cases where the victim’s family feels there has been no justice for their loved one’s death because there have been no criminal files charged, charges were filed but subsequently dropped, or the at-fault party was found not guilty.
Proving Wrongful Death
In order to be successful in a wrongful death lawsuit, a wrongful death lawyer must prove that certain factors existed in the accident or incident that killed the victim.
The wrongful death lawyer must first prove that the alleged at-fault party had a duty of care to the victim. For example, in a car accident case, drivers owe a duty of care to other commuters on the road to obey all traffic laws. In a malpractice case, doctors owe a duty of care to the patients to provide the utmost quality of care
The second factor that must be proven is that the at-fault party breached that duty of care. In the car accident case, if the driver was speeding, then they failed to obey traffic laws and that was a breach of duty. A surgeon who leaves a sponge inside a patient during surgery is not providing the utmost quality of care, which, again, is a breach of duty.
The third factor a wrongful death lawyer must prove is that the breach of duty caused the victim’s death. The speeding driver caused the crash that fatally injured the victim. The sponge left behind after surgery caused an infection that killed the patient. In these two examples, there is direct causation between the driver’s and the surgeon’s failures and the victims’ deaths.
Contact a Personal Injury Law Firm for Help
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence or recklessness of another party or parties, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the losses you have suffered. Do not delay in contacting an attorney, like a Morgantown, WV wrongful death lawyer from Hayhurst Law PLLC, to find out what legal options you may have to obtain financial justice for your loved one’s death.