If your loved one was killed because of someone else’s carelessness or wrongdoing, you may want to consult with a Charlottesville, Virginia wrongful death lawyer from MartinWren, P.C. We may help you bring a lawsuit against the person who caused your family member’s death. Our lawyers are willing to trial and fight hard to protect their clients’ rights.
What Is “Wrongful Death”?
Wrongful death refers to an incident where a person’s death is caused by another person’s negligence or wrongdoing. This can happen from a number of circumstances, such as a car accident, medical malpractice, or criminal behavior. The victim’s surviving family members then have the right to bring a lawsuit against the defendant with the assistance of a wrongful death lawyer in Charlottesville VA.
7 Types Of Common Wrongful Death Claims
There are many types of wrongful death claims that a person might file, however the seven below are the most commonplace. Knowing the most common claims filed can help you figure out if you should file a case.
- Car accidents.
- Medical malpractice.
- Accidents at the workplace.
- Defective products.
- Semi-truck accidents.
- Pedestrian accidents.
- Aviation accidents.
Car accidents and semi-truck accidents can be claimed as wrongful death cases if the deceased was not at fault. Were the drivers drinking, texting, or otherwise distracted while behind the wheel? Can this be proven? If so, it’s a wrongful death case.
Medical malpractice is a very common wrongful death type and is often seen when doctors and other staff at a hospital do not uphold a standard of care regarding a patient. This can usually be proven by accessing the patient’s medical records.
Defective products can be everyday items such as a dresser that falls apart despite being put together properly. If a product is defective and breaks and causes a death, the manufacturer is going to be accountable for that death.
Accidents at the workplace that cause a death are very serious, as it means that the place of employment was not paying attention, and that is an issue. If one person dies due to workplace negligence, whether it’s workers being negligent while at work or an unmaintained workplace.
An Example Of A Wrongful Death Case: Aviation Accident
Aaliyah, a 22-year-old singer, died in 2001 when her plane crashed. Her party had just finished shooting a music video. Her parents later filed claims against:
- Her record company for hiring a plane from a company with various citations.
- The pilot who was found to be unqualified to fly.
The family learned the pilot was not registered as a pilot with the FAA. The aircraft was overloaded, and they found the pilot had traces of cocaine and alcohol in his system. Later, it was found that the pilot also had criminal charges, which would have stopped him from registering with the FAA as a pilot. This put the airline completely at fault, and the record company for not researching the credibility of the airline company they were hiring.
This case was settled in 2003, two years after the plane went down.
An Example Of A Wrongful Death Case: Defective Product
The Ford Pinto was an extremely affordable car, with a terrible design. It was one of the most-purchased cars in the 1970s. However, it had a design that placed its gas tank on the back of the car, resulting in explosions at the slightest rear-end collision. The product was eventually recalled, but only after people started filing wrongful death claims and other lawsuits against Ford.
The most recent wrongful death suits against a car manufacturer are faulty airbags from Takata. These airbags can explode and send shrapnel flying through the car at the passengers.
While settling a wrongful death case seems daunting, there are lawyers like MartinWren, P.C. that can help you with your case.
An Example Of A Wrongful Death Case: Medical Malpractice
The death of a family member is another reason people seek out help from a lawyer. When a loved one dies because of the negligence of a doctor, medical team, or other medical professional, it can leave loved ones in anguish over what could have been. We cannot bring your cherished person back, but the least we can do is hold the doctor responsible for their grave error. Medical malpractice fatalities can happen in scenarios such as:
Mistakes during surgery.
Many complications can happen during surgery, such as tools not being cleaned properly, patients receiving the wrong surgery or on the wrong body part, and more. In cases like these, surviving loved ones are strongly encouraged to speak with a wrongful death legal team that is experienced in handling delicate cases like these.
Lack of informed consent.
Before undergoing any kind of procedure or surgery, you have to state that you understand the risks and with that knowledge are still okay to proceed forward. It is your doctor’s duty to explain the surgery fully to you and answer questions beforehand. If the surgery happens and the doctor failed to adequately inform you, then it is viewed legally as a lack of informed consent.
New symptoms develop.
There may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit if new symptoms arose shortly before a patient passed away. However, this can be a challenging factor to measure depending on the timeframe between when the new symptoms appeared and the subsequent death. For example, it will be more difficult to connect the link between a surgery and symptoms that developed months or years later. A loved one who exhibited new symptoms after a doctor’s diagnosis, procedure, or medication prescription may have passed away because of medical malpractice. The best way for relative’s to know for sure is to speak with legal counsel right away.
Low staff negligence.
It may come as no surprise to hear that most hospitals today are terribly understaffed. While this is a common problem, it doesn’t mean that it should be accepted. Medical teams and hospital entites must provide a reasonable standard of care at all times, regardless of how low staffed they are. Surviving loved ones of a patient who died are prompted to come forward and speak with a lawyer at our law firm if they suspect low staff contributed to their relative’s passing.
How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?
In order to win a wrongful death lawsuit, your Charlottesville VA wrongful death lawyer must prove the following elements existed:
- Duty of Care: The person who caused your family member’s death must have owed him or her a duty of care. For example, if your loved one was killed in a car accident, the liable party had a responsibility to drive safely and obey the rules of the road.
- Breach of Duty of Care: In a wrongful death case, you also have to prove that the defendant breached the duty of care he or she owed to your deceased family member. Failing to drive carefully may be a breach of duty of care.
- Causation: The last part in proving a wrongful death claim is showing that the breach of duty of care was a direct cause of death. If the defendant was speeding and this directly caused a fatal accident, this may justify a wrongful death case. If the accident wasn’t directly caused by the other driver’s speed, the driver likely wouldn’t be held liable.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Charlottesville Wrongful Death Lawyer?
If you plan to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, it may be in your best interest to hire legal representation. Here are a couple of benefits of hiring a Charlottesville VA wrongful death lawyer:
- Handle Communication With Insurance Company: After you file a wrongful death claim, an insurance adjuster may want to talk to you about your case. Unfortunately, some insurance adjusters are known for offering low settlement amounts to save money for their company. A lawyer may advocate for you in this circumstance.
- Meet Deadlines: There are a few deadlines in wrongful death lawsuits and it is very important to meet them. A Charlottesville VA wrongful death lawyer may help you meet these deadlines so that you do not miss out on obtaining compensation.
No amount of money can possibly make up for the loss of a human life — at MartinWren, P.C., we understand this. We also know, however, that a wrongful death civil suit may help families cope with the loss of a loved one and gain peace of mind.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
An inevitable part of life is that we will lose family members and other loved ones due to illness, old age, or in an accidental death. But when that death is caused by the negligence of another party, the loss can feel even more devastating. Added to a family’s grief is the unexpected financial burdens they suddenly are dealing with, especially if the victim was the primary source of income for the family. There are often medical expenses that were incurred trying to save the victim’s life and funeral and burial expenses, which can run into the thousands of dollars.
When a victim dies because of another person’s actions, their survivors can sue that party for financial damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. The following is a brief overview of how these legal actions work. For more detailed information, contact MartinWren, P.C. to meet with a Charlottesville VA wrongful death lawyer.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death?
As a Charlottesville VA wrongful death lawyer can explain, a wrongful death occurs when the death of a victim occurs because of the actions or behavior of another party. If the action of that party had not followed through with the action, then the victim would not have died. There are many causes of wrongful death, including:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Premises liability
- Workplace accidents
The family of the victim can file a wrongful death lawsuit to not only pursue damages for the economic losses the victim’s death has caused, but also for noneconomic damages. The emotional losses a victim’s death leaves on his or her family are also overwhelming. A spouse who no longer has a partner to parent and share life with. Children who no longer have the love, guidance, and support of their parent. These are some of the losses that survivors can pursue in a wrongful death lawsuit. A Charlottesville VA wrongful death lawyer can determine what losses apply in your situation.
Each state has its own laws regarding who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In most states, spouses and children can file. If the victim was not married or had no children, then their parents, siblings, and grandparents (in that order) can file.
Some states require a wrongful death lawsuit be filed only by a personal representative or executor of the victim’s estate. This is the person who is in charge of any debts the victim had and distributing the victim’s assets to the beneficiaries of the estate. In many cases, the victim has chosen their spouse or adult child to be their representative. If the victim did not have anyone named as a representative, the court will appoint one.
No matter who it is that is filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the action must be taken within a certain period of time, legally referred to as the statute of limitations. Each state has its own laws regarding what this time limit is, typically two to three years from the date of the victim’s death. Failure to file on time eliminates the opportunity to ever pursue a wrongful death case against the party responsible for the victim’s death. A Charlottesville VA wrongful death lawyer will be able to determine what the date is in your case.
For more information about wrongful death lawsuits, or to schedule a free consultation with a Charlottesville VA wrongful death lawyer, contact MartinWren, P.C.