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What is a wrongful death?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024 | Wrongful Death

No premature death ever feels “right,” but what exactly makes a death “wrongful?” 

Generally speaking, a wrongful death is any death caused by the wrongful act of another person or entity. Wrongful deaths may or may not result in criminal charges, but many are not criminal in nature. In fact, an accidental death – when it is caused by another person – can easily be considered “wrongful.”

What are some examples of wrongful deaths?

A wrongful death claim can be based on numerous different circumstances, including (but not limited to):

  • Medical malpractice: Misdiagnoses, surgical errors, medication errors and procedures that were done without informed consent can all result in a patient’s untimely death.
  • Automobile accidents: These are common causes of wrongful death claims and can often involve speeding, aggressive driving, street racing, drunk driving and distracted driving.
  • Defective products: Faulty airbags or defective brakes on a vehicle can cause someone’s untimely death, but so can defective pressure cookers, electronics that set themselves on fire, defective medical devices and dangerous drugs.
  • Premise liability claims: When a property owner fails to keep their property reasonably safe, that can lead to fatal slips and falls, swimming pool accidents and animal attacks that turn fatal.
  • Nursing home negligence: Physical abuse, inadequate care that leads to infection and sepsis and elopements that lead to a dementia patient’s death are all causes of wrongful death.
  • Public transportation accidents: Driver or operator error, mechanical failures and unsafe conditions on buses, trains and ferries can all lead to wrongful death.
  • Criminal activity: A bar fight, a robbery or an altercation between neighbors that ends in gunfire can all turn into a wrongful death claim.

It’s important to note that even if the person who caused a wrongful death is criminally charged over their actions, a wrongful death claim is different. It’s a civil claim, so it can be pursued separately. In addition, criminal cases are about public safety and punishment, while a wrongful death claim is designed to secure compensation for the survivors of the deceased.