The sudden loss of a loved one in an accident can be devastating, especially if he or she earned significant income for your family. Most “wrongful” deaths are the result of accidents. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they resulted from someone’s reckless or negligent behavior. The legal term for this is the Latin “casus fortuitous,” which roughly translates to “chance occurrence,” or “unfortunate event.” So if this sort of tragedy has occurred to your loved one, hopefully there is some form of insurance to cushion the financial blow.
Often, however, an accidental/wrongful death IS due to someone’s negligence or careless action. And that is when the negligent person or entity owes your family damage compensation, including:
- Lost present and future earning capacity (income or wages, including benefits)
- Lost care the deceased loved one provided to the family, including maintenance, services, support, advice, and counsel
- Mental and emotional anguish, and pain and suffering to both the victim and surviving family members
- Lost love, companionship, comfort, and society (often referred to as consortium)
- Lost inheritance, including future savings which would have been left to surviving family members if the deceased had lived a normal expectancy
- Possible punitive damages if the deceased’s death was the result of a willful act or omission, or of gross negligence by the person or parties which caused the accident.
Types of Wrongful Deaths That Lead to Civil Lawsuits
Vehicle Accidents: The National Safety Council (NSC) days as many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016, and 4.6 million were injured seriously enough to require medical attention. Negligent acts that cause car (and commercial truck) accidents typically include:
- Distracted driving (the number of these accidents has soared the past several years)
- Reckless driving
- Road repair and construction activity
- Defective vehicle products or services
- “Impaired” driving – due to either alcohol or drugs, or in some cases both.
And with negligent truckers, additional accident causes include:
- Driver fatigue
- Driving with an overweight or improperly loaded cargo
- Trucking company negligence.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost 5,000 people died in motorcycle crashes in 2015. Too often, these fatal accidents occur when drivers fail to notice these harder-to-see “hidden” motorists. Or maybe drivers just don’t think to look before changing lanes or approaching an intersection. Motorcyclists involved in vehicle accidents die from these injuries:
- Traumatic brain, neck, and spine injuries
- Critical internal damage.
Medical professionals owe their patients a higher-than-normal duty of care. When doctors and other healthcare workers cut corners or fail to follow acceptable procedures, patients are killed. Errors which may justify a wrongful death claim include:
- Injuries to newborns or mothers during birth
- Delayed or improper treatment, including misdiagnosis
- Pharmaceutical errors
- Surgical errors.
When manufacturers fail to create and market safe products, they, their distributors and retailers deserve to be held liable. Examples of defective products that cause wrongful deaths include:
- Defective medical devices and prescription drugs
- Products that include toxic compounds
- Dangerous childcare products and toys
- Defective vehicles and vehicle parts.
Employers have a duty to keep their employees safe while they are working. But sometimes that doesn’t happen. One problem that complicates a wrongful workplace death is that employers who carry workers’ compensation insurance are immune from being sued by surviving family members. However, third parties who bear some responsibility for that death are liable. A few may include:
- A visitor to the workplace whose carelessness played a part in the accident
- A driver who causes a fatal accident that killed the family member/employee who was performing duties away from the workplace
- Manufacturers of defective equipment that caused the wrongful death.
Insurance Companies that Dispute Wrongful Death Claims
Because so much money can be at stake from a wrongful death claim, defendant insurance companies often heatedly contest them, even if defendant liability for the death is indisputable. And insurance companies know all the tricks to get grieving family members to accept low-ball settlement offers, especially if they aren’t protected by highly skilled, well-respected and experienced law firms who help families like yours receive the appropriate, full and fair settlement for your monetary and emotional loss.
Many people purchase Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) insurance – often part of a life insurance policy. It grants money to surviving family members if their loved one dies in an accident. There are many stipulations, clauses, and exceptions, such as:
- Disputing cause of death: Deaths from illness, suicide, certain types of radiation, war injuries, and natural causes aren’t covered under AD&D. In some policies, deaths that occur while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are also questioned.
- Dismemberment: AD&D insurance provides coverage for people who survive their accidents but lose their vision, limbs, or speech. These benefits often vary depending on the severity of accidents and the impact they have on victims’ lives.
Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law knows why some insurance companies try to pay you less than full benefits for your loved one’s accidental death. Our Houston accidental and wrongful death lawyers will stand up to the insurance company and help you get the money your family deserves. Call us today at 1 (800) 444-5000 or fill out a free initial consultation form.