When someone passes away due to an injury or illness that should have been preventable, and it was someone else’s negligence that caused the fatal circumstances, it is known in the law as a wrongful death. Surviving family members of someone who has passed away due to another party’s negligence can file a wrongful death claim in pursuit of certain damages, like lost wages, loss of companionship, and final medical care. To secure those damages, liability for the wrongful death will need to be proven, and the available evidence will differ depending on the type of accident or incident that led to the untimely death.
Different Types of Wrongful Death Claims
Extreme and violent circumstances that can cause a wrongful death include:
- Car accidents: Traffic collisions are one of the leading causes of accidental deaths in the country. Every year, more than 35,000 people on average will die in a fatal crash. Many of those accidents involve other drivers who could potentially be liable for the death in both civil and criminal courts.
- Truck accidents: Another deadly form of motor vehicle collisions is the truck accident, which is generally a crash between a commercial truck and a smaller passenger vehicle. Commercial trucks, big rigs, 18-wheelers, semi-trucks, and tractor-trailers are all massive vehicles that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, which is about 20 times heavier than most passenger cars. A crash at even a relatively low speed can cause extensive destruction and fatalities.
- Motorcycle accidents: The typical motorcycle offers its riders little to no protection during a traffic collision. The rider can be ejected from the motorcycle in a crash, suffering catastrophic injuries as a result. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows that motorcycle accidents are 5.5 times more likely to involve a fatality when compared to car accidents.
- Medical malpractice: Hospital errors, surgical mistakes, and other forms of medical malpractice can cause a patient to lose their life when they should have been receiving adequate care. Some reports have estimated that hospital errors are the third leading cause of death, but many cases likely go unreported because they are mistaken for “acceptable” medical risks.
- Nursing home negligence: Elders who live in nursing homes are vulnerable to injuries and illnesses when they receive inadequate care and attention. Preventable falls are among the leading causes of deaths among elders, and many such falls happen in nursing homes.
- Product defects: Dangerously defective products are also commonly cited in wrongful death claims. Everything from hazardous drugs and dangerous medical devices to faulty auto parts frequently ends up in headlines for causing consumer deaths.
What Do You Need for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death claim is constructed very much like any other personal injury claim. There is a claimant or plaintiff, a defendant, damages, and a question of liability. As with any injury claim, the question of liability tends to be the most difficult part of a wrongful death claim.
To file a lawsuit that you want to give a fair chance of success, you need to come prepared with ample evidence of liability. Pieces like medical records and police reports can be especially convincing because they are backed by recognized professionals. Other forms of tangible evidence like photographs and videos are also useful, but eyewitness statements can also be what gives your claim the advantage it needs.
Once your evidence is in order, it will be time to file the wrongful death claim. However, not just anyone can file a wrongful death claim after losing a loved one. Each state has specific rules that limit who can file. Usually, spouses and children have the priority, but this is not always the case. You will need to research your state’s rules to see if you have the option to file or if it belongs to someone else in your family.
Who Can Help with a Wrongful Death Claim?
Family members who are grieving after the wrongful death of a loved one rarely have the time, energy, or mindset to deal with legal complexities. Yet a wrongful death claim is not something that should be postponed. As time goes on, reliable evidence of liability will become more difficult to find and use properly.
In order to get your wrongful death claim moving sooner than later, and in a way that does not require you to forgo the important process of grieving, you should team up with a local wrongful death attorney. You can hire a lawyer to do all of the legwork for your claim, including investigating evidence and calculating your total damages. Meanwhile, you can focus on what is most important for your emotions, mental state, and family.
Do you need help with a wrongful death claim after losing a loved one in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in South Florida? The Law Offices of John D. Ameen, P.A. would be honored to provide compassionate and caring legal assistance and representation, starting with a free case evaluation. Contact us at (800) 953-2858 to begin.