Accidents can happen anywhere, at any time, and to anybody. Unfortunately, some accidents result in fatal injuries. In such cases, wrongful death claims are filed to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. Wrongful death claims arise when somebody dies as a result of the negligent or intentional actions of another person or entity. In this post, we’ll discuss common types of accidents that result in wrongful death claims.
Car accidents are one of the leading causes of wrongful death claims. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019, almost 40,000 people died in car accidents. Car accidents can be the result of a variety of factors including speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, and reckless driving. When a loved one is killed in a car accident, the surviving family members may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim against the driver responsible.
Medical malpractice is another common cause of wrongful death claims. Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional fails to provide appropriate care, resulting in the death of the patient. Medical malpractice can include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication errors, and birth injuries. In these cases, the surviving relatives may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the healthcare provider or hospital responsible for the death.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), thousands of workers are killed on the job each year. Workplace accidents can be caused by a variety of factors including falls, equipment malfunctions, and electrocution. Surviving relatives of somebody who dies as a result of carrying out their work may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the employer or another responsible party, such as the manufacturer of defective equipment.
Defective products can also result in wrongful death claims. Defective products can include anything from faulty machinery to dangerous drugs. When a defective product causes the death of a person, it may be possible to bring a wrongful death claim against the manufacturer or distributor of the product.
Premises liability may cause wrongful death. Premises liability occurs when a property owner fails to maintain their property in a safe condition, resulting in a fatal accident. This could include slip and fall accidents, dog attacks, and swimming pool accidents, for example. While many of these accidents will end in a personal injury lawsuit, in serious situation where there are fatalities, a wrongful death claim may be brought against the premises owner or occupier.
Aviation accidents can be fatal, resulting in wrongful death claims. Aviation accidents may include commercial airline crashes, private plane crashes, and helicopter crashes. A wrongful death claim may be brought against the airline, pilot, or other responsible parties in these cases.
Criminal acts may also result in wrongful death claims. This can include murder, assault, and battery. In many cases, wrongful death occurs when an innocent bystander becomes caught up in the criminal acts of another, such as being caught in gun crossfire. The perpetrator or other responsible parties may be liable for wrongful death if a person is killed as a result of a criminal act, whether or not they were targeted directly.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The laws regarding who can file a wrongful death claim vary by state. In Alaska, the wrongful death claim must be brought by a personal representative of the deceased’s estate, but damages can be presented to individual victims and the estate as a whole. In most cases, it is the surviving spouse, children, or parents of the deceased person who file the claim.
Proving a Wrongful Death Claim
In order to successfully file a wrongful death claim, the surviving family members must be able to prove that the death of their loved one as caused by the negligent or intentional actions of another person or entity. This requires showing that the responsible party had a duty of care to the deceased person, that they breached this duty, and that it directly led to their death.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
Damages in a wrongful death claim can include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages may include medical expenses, funeral costs, and compensation for a loss of financial support. Non-economic damages can include loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
Statute of Limitations
It’s crucial to note that there is a statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations varies by state, but generally ranges from one to three years from the date of the person’s death. In Alaska, you have a time limit of two years from when the death occurred to file the claim.
Settlement vs Trial
In many cases, wrongful death claims are settled out of court. This involves the responsible party and their insurance company agreeing to pay a settlement amount to the surviving family members in exchange for dropping the lawsuit. Settlements can be beneficial for both parties as they can be less time-consuming and not as costly as a trial. However, it’s important to ensure that any settlement offer adequately compensates the surviving family members for their damages.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the case may go to trial. During a trial, the judge or jury will determine whether the responsible party is liable for the death of the person and what damages should be awarded to the surviving family members.
Work With the Best Wrongful Death Attorneys
Do you believe that a loved one died wrongfully due to the negligence or intentional actions of another? We can help you navigate the complexities of your case and determine how much compensation you are entitled to. Our supportive and experienced attorneys will handle your case with sensitivity and care. Contact us today to discuss your situation and find out more about how we can help.
Visit our offices at: 2525 Gambell Street #410, Anchorage, AK 99503.
Call now for a free consultation on (907) 290-2576.