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Wrongful Death Cases against Third Parties

Posted by attorney Edward Lake

Wrongful death cases can arise out of a number of circumstances. Although sometimes they are based on intentional or malicious acts of conduct, more often they stem from third-party liability. Talking with an attorney can help the surviving family learn if they have a viable claim.

Types of Wrongful Death Cases

Accidents are probably the most common type of wrongful death case to be filed. They often involve passenger vehicles but could include pedestrians, trucks, bicycles and motorcycles. A third-party liability claim is typically filed against motor vehicle drivers, but others could be named (such as a motorcyclist or a truck driver's employer).

A wrongful death case can be the result of a defective product. A claim against the manufacturer may be filed when a defect in the design or construction of the product results in someone’s death. Examples include children’s products, such as cribs, that malfunction or parts such as vehicle brakes that fail.

Dangerous drugs that cause someone’s death could lead to a third-party liability claim. The drug manufacturer may be liable when something in the medication results in a patient suffering fatal injuries.

A deadly work accident could lead to a wrongful death claim. Although workers’ compensation benefits typically are available when someone has been injured or killed while on the job, a third-party claim could be filed if someone other than the employer or a coworker was the cause of the accident, for instance, a subcontractor at a construction site.

Wrongful death cases can stem from medical malpractice at the hands of a pharmacist, doctor, surgeon or others who work in the medical field. In some cases, a third-party liability claim can be filed against a hospital or medical facility. Examples of negligence include surgical mistakes, hospital-acquired infections and even nursing home abuse/neglect.

Damages Available in a Wrongful Death Case

Whatever the basis for filing a wrongful death claim, there are a variety of recoverable damages. For instance, economic losses the family has been left to shoulder could be recovered. Generally, these include medical expenses, burial/funeral costs, and loss of income.

Determining the value is fairly easy when it comes to the medical bills and funeral. But with the loss of income, there are several variables that may help in figuring how much a family is entitled to recover. How long the deceased was expected to continue working, past employment history and any fringe benefits that are now gone may be some of the factors taken into consideration.

Other damages may include noneconomic losses. These don’t have an exact value attached to them, but an attorney can help estimate the compensation that may be recovered for these damages. An example is the loss of companionship a surviving spouse experiences or a child's loss of guidance. It could also include lost household services, pain and suffering, and more.

Most wrongful death claims are filed by or on behalf of a spouse or children. Sometimes parents are eligible to recover damages. For help understanding if a third party is liable for a loved one’s death, contact an attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates today.

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