The Most Common Causes of Death in Wrongful Death Claims

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Posted By | January 22, 2024 | Personal Injury

The death of a loved one always feels wrong to family members, but when a death directly results from another person’s carelessness, reckless behavior, or intentional wrongdoing, the civil courts allow close surviving family members to seek restitution through a wrongful death claim to recover damages as well as a sense of justice and accountability. “Damages” in civil claims refers to the consequences of a negligent action to the victim of the action. In a Texas wrongful death claim, this includes medical costs, funeral expenses, and the amount of earnings and benefits the person would have provided for their family during the number of working years they had left to them had they not died.

Most states allow close family members, a family representative, or the executor of a deceased person’s will to file a wrongful death claim for damages when a loved one dies a preventable death. Some states also allow compensation claims for non-economic damages such as the victim’s pain and suffering before their death and the family’s grief and anguish.

Common Causes of Death in Wrongful Death Claims

Every state in the U.S. holds people and businesses accountable for negligent actions that result in death under the premise that we all owe a duty of care toward others in out orbit to take reasonable measures to prevent causing them injury or death. When someone breaches this duty and the result is a fatal injury to another, they are accountable for providing compensation to family members. Common causes of wrongful death claims include the following:

  • Car accidents
  • Commercial truck accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Workplace injuries
  • Defective product injuries
  • Slip-and-fall accidents
  • Acts of criminal violence
  • Medical malpractice (doctors owe a special duty of care to provide a level of care to the patient that’s accepted by the medical community)

When a criminal action such as an assault or a drunk driving accident occurs, a family’s wrongful death claim proceeds separately from any criminal action against the at-fault party. The settlement or verdict in a wrongful death claim is independent of a guilty or not-guilty verdict in criminal court. Finding a defendant guilty of a crime requires proving them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt while finding them liable in a civil court wrongful death claim requires only proving liability through a preponderance of the evidence. This means deciding that it’s more likely than not that the at-fault party’s actions caused the injury and/or death.

Statute of Limitations in Wrongful Death Claims

Most states have a two-year time limit on filing wrongful death claims. Close family members have up to two years from the date of the death to file a lawsuit in court. Most wrongful death claims are settled out of court before the two-year statute of limitations has passed, but if the case requires a lawsuit, it must come to court before the two-year time limit expires.

Who Pays Wrongful Death Compensation

In most cases, compensation for a wrongful death claim does not come from the at-fault party’s private funds but instead is paid out through their appropriate insurance policy. For instance, car insurance pays out on a claim for a death caused by a reckless driver or premises liability insurance for a death caused by a negligent landlord’s lack of maintenance on smoke detectors.

A successful wrongful death claim cannot bring the loved one back or ease the grief and anguish of the family members, but it does relieve financial burdens so the family is free to focus on moving forward from their grief. It’s also a way to provide a voice for justice for the lost loved one.