What Does “Wrongful Death” Mean?

funeral death

One of the most difficult things that someone can go through is if a loved one passes away. While dealing with the loss of a parent, child, or spouse is already difficult enough, it can be even harder if it was due to the negligence or intent of another person. If you believe that your loved one passed away due to the acts of another person or entity, filing a wrongful death claim could be a good idea. It is important to understand what constitutes wrongful death under the law and what common examples of it are. 

What Constitutes Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is a term used to describe a civil matter in which one person feels that their loved one died due to the negligence or intent caused by someone else. While the negligence or intent could also result in criminal proceedings and charges, wrongful death cases take place through the civil court process. Due to this, the burden of proof when it comes to proving wrongful death is lower than it would be during a criminal trial. To prove wrongful death, you will need to show that the defendant more than likely caused the death based on evidence submitted. 

Examples of Wrongful Death

Wrongful death can be a rather broad term that can cover a range of different scenarios that result in someone’s death. However, there are several situations in particular that are more likely to result in a wrongful death claim. 

Vehicle Accidents 

The most common form of wrongful death claims is related to vehicle accidents. Many people drive on public roads on a daily basis. Unfortunately, accidents do happen from time to time, which can result in injuries or even deaths. In some cases, the cause of the death is due to the negligence of one of the drivers. This could include reckless speeding, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or not obeying local or state driving laws and best practices. If a driver is found to be negligent, they could be held responsible in a wrongful death case. Also, if the roadways are in poor condition due to lack or maintenance by the local authority, the city, country, or state could be held liable.

Medical Malpractice

Most people will eventually need to go to a doctor for a procedure or even standard routine care. When they are doing this, they are assuming that the doctor will provide the best care possible. However, there are situations when the doctor or surgeon could make a mistake during a procedure or when diagnosing an illness and providing other care. If this mistake is deemed to be negligent, the care provider could be held responsible.

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Workplace Accidents

Going to work on a daily basis is a necessity. While most people assume that they will be safe while they are at work, accidents can happen in any profession and work environment. Due to this, your employer has a requirement to make the workplace as safe as possible. If an accident occurs due to an unsafe environment, lack of training, negligence, or other issues caused by an employer, the company could be held liable for wrongful death. 

Defective Product or Service

Any company that sells and produces a product or service has the responsibility to ensure that it is safe to use. If someone dies due to the use of a product that is later deemed to be defective, the company that produced it and the retailer that sold it could be held responsible and liable. This can include whether they knew the product was defective or if the defect was missed during the testing processes. 

How to Prove Wrongful Death

The process of proving wrongful death can be complicated. In order to do this, you will need to prove that there was negligence caused by another party and that the negligence and accident caused the death. The complexity of proving this can vary, and it is always helpful to review medical reports, police reports, and product safety reports to figure out if negligence occurred. 

Wrongful death claims can be difficult to prove out on your own if you do not have experienced legal support. Due to this, if you believe that you have a wrongful death claim that you would like to move forward with, hiring legal support is always a great option. The team with Stephenson Rife LLP can provide you with all of your legal support needs. This can include providing you with a full consultation on your case and helping you to file, prepare and move forward with your wrongful death claim.