It is extremely difficult for families to deal with the death of a loved one, but it is even more difficult when someone’s carelessness causes the death. In wrongful death, the death of an individual is directly caused by either a person’s or a business’s wrongful act or negligence. As reported by Statista, unintentional injuries or accidents accounted for around 6% of all deaths in the United States in 2020.
There are many factors and situations that can lead to wrongful deaths. The most common unlawful death cases fall into the following categories:
- Workplace accidents
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 5,840 people died in workplace accidents in 2006. Each year, about 4,600 workers are killed at a work-an average of 89 deaths per week or 12 deaths per day.
Manual labor and construction jobs have the highest rate of workplace fatalities, but employers can place an employee in a dangerous situation even outside of work, causing a wrongful death. The latter situation was exemplified by a nurse who ended up in a fatal car accident on the way home after working multiple 12-hour shifts.
Falling is the most common cause of death. The majority of deaths associated with falls occur in people over 75 years of age. In rare circumstances, the use of asbestos on job sites can also pose a life-threatening risk to an individual. In spite of early diagnosis, it causes a person to undergo endless doctor’s appointments and hospital visits. When patients don’t get an early diagnosis, they face a death sentence; in such cases, their families can claim mesothelioma wrongful death settlements to compensate them for medical bills, funeral expenses, and lost income.
- Malpractice in medicine
Despite the fact that most doctors and nurses are highly skilled, they’re still human, and they’re still prone to making mistakes. These mistakes can be caused by medical personnel cutting corners, not following correct procedures, or simply not paying attention.
A study conducted by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found that one out of five medical errors are fatal or gravely dangerous. Each year, approximately 98,000 Americans die from medical errors that could have been prevented (about 7,000 of which are medication errors).
The most common cause of wrongful death caused by medical malpractice is misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a condition. Additionally, errors in surgery and treatment can also lead to wrongful death.
- Car Accidents
Car accidents are the most prevalent cause of wrongful death. In 2005, 45,343 motor vehicle fatalities were reported by the CDC. Over 300,000 people lose their lives in car accidents yearly, and countless more suffer long-term injuries. These accidents leave injured drivers, passengers, and their families struggling to pay medical bills and/or make ends meet.
Most car accidents result in fatalities because of negligent driving, whether it is speeding, reckless driving, not paying attention to the road, or driving under the influence. City or county officials may be responsible if an accident happens due to road issues. Occasionally, accidents can occur where neither driver was negligent, but these are rare.
- Truck Accidents
Even though truck accidents are still caused by motor vehicles, they differ from car accidents because of the size and weight of large trucks. In this type of accident, passengers in smaller vehicles are far more likely to suffer serious injuries or death when a truck hits them.
A semi-truck accident is also more likely to occur if you are driving with an oversized load, if there is a mechanical problem with the truck, or if the driver is inattentive or fatigued.
- Product defects
If a person dies from a defective product, the manufacturer is responsible. Because of product safety, manufacturers spend so much time testing and ensuring their products will not harm consumers.
A defective pharmaceutical product, toxic food, unsafe children’s products, and a defective automobile are examples of this type of wrongful death.
- Accidents involving pedestrians
Accidents that involve pedestrians tend to result in fatalities because people on foot are not protected.
Often, these accidents are caused by driver negligence, although a lack of pedestrian walkways may result in the city or county being held liable.
- Aircraft accidents
It is rare for aviation accidents to occur, but when they do, many people die. Aeronautical accidents are most commonly caused by mechanical problems with airplanes and pilot errors. In the former case, the airline or airplane manufacturer is responsible. For the latter, the pilot is responsible.
When another’s wrongful or negligent act kills a human, it is called a wrongful death. Wrongful death also falls into the gray area between murder and manslaughter. Sometimes, victims are involved in accidents with non-life-threatening injuries.
However, proving wrongful death liability can be challenging. A defendant can only be held accountable if they had a duty of care toward the plaintiff or deceased individual. Yet, they failed to act with reasonable care. These individuals include medical staff, drivers, employers, pilots, or manufacturers.