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Losing a loved one is a difficult thing for anybody. Losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence can be even harder. Lives are cut short every day for many reasons, but losing a loved one in an accident caused by someone else’s negligent actions is especially tragic. When such an event happens, the family of the person who died is entitled to compensation. Wrongful death suits occur when someone who has lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence files a claim against the individual responsible for the death.

In 2019 more than 170,000 people lost their lives in the US from accidents or unintentional injuries. In fact, such accidents are the third leading cause of death in the US. While accidents happen in an almost infinite number of different ways, some wrongful death causes are more common than others. Here are some examples of wrongful death causes.

Car Accidents

There is no way to ignore the fact that driving a vehicle can be dangerous. While many of us may go years without getting into a car accident, others are not so lucky. Many wrongful death lawsuit cases happen each year after fatal car accidents. Generally, if a driver’s negligent actions cause a death on the road, they are liable for the wrongful death. 

The number of car accident fatalities each year may surprise you. More than 38,000 people die in car accidents each year. In 2020, while there was less traffic volume than normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of vehicle fatalities rose. Some experts say that the increase in fatalities was due, in part, to increased rates of speeding in the US. If a loved one dies after a car accident that someone else negligently causes, you are entitled to compensation through a wrongful death claim.

Some of the most common causes of death after car accidents stem from things like:

  • Brain injuries,
  • Neck injuries, and
  • Internal bleeding.

The two best things you and your loved ones can do to avoid suffering a fatal injury in a car accident are wearing your seatbelt and avoiding distractions while driving.

Defective Products

Defective products lead to numerous wrongful death claims each year. Most consumer products producers are responsible for ensuring consumer safety as long as their products are used as intended. Some products are inherently dangerous, but other times, a consumer product can have a fatal defect. For example, a cooking utensil that leaches deadly chemicals into food as it is used as intended can lead to a wrongful death claim against a manufacturer.

Similarly, a safety feature in a vehicle that doesn’t work properly, like a seatbelt that comes unbuckled easily in an accident, can easily cause fatal injuries and leave the manufacturer liable for wrongful death claims. Even an inherently dangerous consumer product, such as a gun, comes with an assumption of safety with proper use. A defective part in a gun that causes a chambered round to go off without the user pulling the trigger can easily lead to a wrongful death claim. 

When a manufacturer of goods is made aware of a dangerous defect in their product, they are responsible for notifying the public of that defect and recalling any defective products. They are also responsible for replacing those products free of charge.

Boeing became responsible for numerous wrongful death claims after a design flaw caused some of their 737 Max commercial aircraft to crash in 2018. Since then, in addition to settling wrongful death claims, Boeing has recalled and replaced all of the affected 737 Max airplanes.

If you want to keep track of any consumer product recalls to help ensure your safety, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the best place to do so. The CPSC website contains a database of all consumer product recalls. You can even subscribe to the CPSC to get a newsletter of product recalls relevant to you.

Workplace Accidents

Unfortunately, many accidents happen in the workplace. While all employers must provide their employees with a safe workspace, some employers fail to do so. Even an employer who takes all necessary precautions can have a fatal accident occur at their workplace. In addition, some jobs and workspaces are more dangerous than others. For example, a construction site will typically be more dangerous than an average office. 

While the vast majority of workplace injuries are nonfatal each year, the number of fatal injuries is still significant. Employers in the US reported 2.8 million nonfatal injuries in 2019. During the same period, however, a total of 5,333 workers died due to workplace injuries.

If a loved one dies after a workplace accident, you can file a claim through their employer’s workers’ compensation program. Most employers in the US are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance. However, if a loved one dies due to negligence by someone other than their employer or coworker, or if the employer did not carry workers’ compensation insurance, you may be able to seek additional compensation through a wrongful death claim.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice commonly gives rise to wrongful death claims. Medical malpractice is estimated to take roughly 250,000 lives each year. Generally speaking, medical malpractice occurs when an error in medical treatment leads to injury. If the patient dies due to a medical error, their loved ones are entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice wrongful death claim.

To file a successful wrongful death claim based on medical malpractice, one must prove that the death was caused by a medical provider’s mistake that amounts to a violation of the medical standard of care.

Pedestrian Accidents

Another common source of wrongful death claims is pedestrian accidents. Unlike when a car strikes another vehicle, when a car strikes a pedestrian, the pedestrian does not have the protection that a vehicle offers. Thus, a pedestrian receives the full force of impact when a car strikes them. As a result, it is not uncommon for injuries to a pedestrian after being struck by a vehicle to be fatal. Fatal injuries to pedestrians have been on the rise over the past decade, taking more than 6,200 lives in 2018 alone. That’s one death roughly every hour-and-a-half.

Unless a pedestrian is negligently or recklessly walking in the middle of traffic when they are hit, courts typically consider a motorist who strikes a pedestrian to be acting negligently. Thus, in most situations, a motorist will be liable for a wrongful death claim if the pedestrian’s injuries are fatal. 

Have You Lost a Loved One?

We have covered some of the most common sources of wrongful death claims, but a wrongful death claim can arise from many other circumstances. The rule of thumb to consider is, Did someone else’s negligent or wrongful actions (or inactions) cause an individual’s death? If the answer is yes, then a wrongful death claim is possible. If you need to file a wrongful death claim, the attorneys at Gerling Law are here to help.

If you have lost a loved one to wrongful death, you deserve compensation. To get the compensation you deserve, you should hire an attorney who has experience with other wrongful death claims. In hiring such an attorney, you gain the peace of mind of knowing that your attorney has the proper experience to handle whatever direction the claims process takes. Sometimes a wrongful death claim is relatively simple; other times not. That’s why experience matters. 

At Gerling Law, our wrongful death attorneys have decades of experience in this area of law. Thus, our attorneys are ready to help you fight for the compensation you deserve, no matter how complex the case may be. Our focus is to help you get where you want to go and handle all the legal details, so you don’t have to.

Instead, you can focus on what’s most important—honoring your loved ones and going through the grieving process. Contact us today, tell us your story, and we will let you know how we can help. Our consultations are always free, so don’t hesitate. Go with Experience. Go with Gerling.® 

Author Photo

Gayle Gerling Pettinga

Born and raised in Evansville, Gayle is a respected, experienced lawyer and a valued community leader. She graduated near the top of her class at Indiana University’s prestigious Maurer School of Law. She’s practiced law with one of the largest firms in Indianapolis as well as one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. And that means she knows how big law firms and big companies think and how they operate – and she will put that knowledge to work for you.

Gayle has received numerous awards and honors including Martindale-Hubbell — Peer Review Rated: AV®, American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorneys in Indiana for Exceptional and Outstanding Client Service, and YWCA Evansville 100 Years, 100 Women Honoree, 2011.

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