Wrongful Death
Halt | December 25, 2022 | 0 Comments

Commonly Asked Questions About Wrongful Death

Wrongful death describes an action taken against someone liable for another person’s death due to ill intentions, negligence, or misconduct. Most people hope to never be in a situation that requires them to file a wrongful death claim, but it happens more often than you might think.

While tens of thousands of Americans are the victims of wrongful deaths yearly, that doesn’t mean most people know everything they need to know about the wrongful death claims process and what it entails. However, if you take note of these most commonly asked questions below, you might find the information you’ve been searching for.

What Is the Highest Wrongful Death Settlement?

How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works

When you approach a wrongful death lawyer to assist with receiving compensation from someone whose actions led to your loved one’s death, it’s only natural to question the highest wrongful death settlement to be paid out.

As of 2022, the largest settlement figure was $160 million in a case involving U-Haul Co. of Pennsylvania. The company was required to pay such a large sum of money after a food truck exploded, resulting in the deaths of a mother and daughter and injuring nearly a dozen others.

A ruptured propane tank led to the explosion, and U-Haul maintained they didn’t fill the propane cylinder involved. The $160 million was split between the deceased’s estate and other seriously injured victims.

What Percentage of Deaths Are Accidental?

We can only hope to pass away from natural causes after an entire life well lived, but that’s not the reality for everyone. According to Statista, unintentional injuries or accidents account for 6% of all deaths and are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. In 2020, more than 200,000 people died from unintentional injuries, the most common being poisonings, motor vehicles, and falls.

How Many Medical Malpractice Lawsuits are Filed Each Year?

Medical malpractice, or professional negligence by a healthcare provider, describes when a hospital, doctor, nurse, or another healthcare professional makes a mistake or performs a negligent act that leads to injury and illness.

We rely on healthcare professionals to look after us and solve our problems, but studies suggest medical errors are now the third-leading cause of death in the United States. Johns Hopkins Medicine analyzed medical death data over eight years and found that more than 250,000 deaths were caused by medical errors. This figure surpassed the previous third leading cause of death, respiratory disease, by upwards of 100,000.

Researchers say that most medical errors aren’t related to bad doctors but, rather, systemic problems, the absence or infrequent use of safety nets, and poorly coordinated care. However, the outcome is all the same for families in a wrongful death situation who now must navigate life without their loved ones.

To cover the costs associated with wrongful death, they often meet with wrongful death lawyers to calculate related costs and receive compensation to cover those expenses. At least 20,000 malpractice lawsuits are filed annually.

Guide to Understanding How Wrongful Death Cases Works

What Are the Leading Causes of Preventable Injury-Related Deaths?

The leading causes of preventable death may just surprise you, with poisoning outnumbering motor vehicle accidents and falls. These three causes of death account for 86% of all preventable injury-related deaths. Other causes, like suffocation, drowning, and natural and environmental disasters, make up just 5% of total avoidable deaths.

According to the CDC, more than 33,000 people died in 2010 in America from unintentional poisoning out of approximately 2.3 million accidental poisonings reported. While childhood exposure often relates to exploratory behavior with household chemicals and medicines, adult poisonings typically relate to drugs.

Many poisonings are caused by overdoses of legal and illegal drugs for non-medical reasons, legal drugs taken in error or at the wrong dose, and unanticipated side effects from legal and illicit drugs.

What Are the 4 Ds for a Malpractice Suit to Be Successful?

When you request a case review with a wrongful death lawyer to see if you have a valid malpractice claim, you might hear your lawyer mention the four Ds: duty of care, deviation from duty, damages, and direct cause.

These four Ds are the legal requirements for a person to bring their medical malpractice claim to a successful conclusion. Duty of care refers to a medical professional’s obligation to provide competent and reasonable medical care, while deviation from duty describes a victim being able to prove that a medical professional deviated from their duty of care.

For example, they might have misdiagnosed a patient, made an avoidable mistake during a surgical procedure, or incorrectly prescribed medication. Damages also have to be proven, which means that errors made by medical professionals led to damages, such as the need for further medical treatment and lost wages due to time off work. Finally, there must be a direct cause. Patients must be able to prove that the damages they suffered are directly related to the medical professional’s actions.

Who Can Make a Wrongful Death Claim?

Who can bring about a wrongful death claim can vary from state to state. In all states, immediate family members can file a lawsuit, but legal and procedural rules can vary from this point on. You are likely able to file a wrongful death claim if you were a surviving spouse or the adult child of the deceased. The decedent’s minor child typically isn’t able to file a lawsuit, but the surviving parent can.

It’s also legal in some states for members of a domestic partnership or civil union to file a lawsuit on behalf of their deceased partner. If the decedent is single, it’s sometimes legal for a distant family member, such as siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, to file lawsuits.

How Can The Wrongful Death Act Benefit Your Family

On rare occasions, disputes break out in families over who can file the lawsuit. Most courts will only allow one wrongful death lawsuit to be filed, and if more than one is filed, each claim will generally be consolidated into a single case. Whoever files the claim can seek compensation for tangible and intangible losses, such as:

  • Medical care
  • Funeral expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Emotional trauma
  • Loss of consortium
  • Pain and suffering

Conclusion

Wrongful death is a complicated and daunting legal area with several complexities and intricacies the average person won’t be aware of. However, the more you learn about wrongful death, the more confident you might be in your ability to navigate the legal system with a wrongful death attorney by your side.

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