Wrongful death claims can be brought against someone who has caused the death of another person. This death can be caused by negligence or intentional action. Wrongful death claims allow people to file a lawsuit against whoever was legally liable for the death.
These lawsuits are usually filed by a representative of the deceased person’s estate or a surviving family member. Wrongful death claims can be applicable in many situations. When a victim is intentionally killed, the family can sue for wrongful death. Car accidents, medical malpractice, and many other accidents that involve negligence can also result in a wrongful death lawsuit.
In Minnesota specifically, there were 79,215 traffic accidents reported in 2018. Of those accidents, 381 people died. That’s 6% more than in 2017. Of those 381 fatalities, 258 were motorists, 45 were pedestrians, 7 were bicyclists, and 58 were motorcyclists.
Common Causes of Auto Accident Wrongful Deaths
Auto accidents have a lot of different causes as roads can be a dangerous place. With technology becoming an extension of our hands, and alcohol being available on every street corner, keeping the streets safe has become increasingly more difficult.
Of the 358 fatalities that occurred in Minnesota in 2017, 84 of them were drunk-driving related. 113 were known to be speed-related, 29 were related to distracted driving, and 96 were because of not wearing a seatbelt.
There are so many factors when it comes to driving safely, and when people don’t follow one rule (or many), the outcome can be frightening.
Commercial Trucking Accidents
While there are a lot of car accidents each year, commercial truck accidents are more likely to cause fatalities. Because they are a lot larger than an average motor vehicle, crashing can be deadly. There are many factors involved in commercial truck accidents, and many things can go wrong behind the wheel of these monster vehicles.
For instance, oversized loads (a commercial vehicle carrying a load wider that 8’5”) can be unsafe if the driver isn’t following the proper safety rules. These trucks are required to have a safety escort, banners, flags, and lights all announcing that it’s an oversized load. But what if they don’t? That oversized load just became a lot more unsafe.
Other commercial truck accidents are also caused by mechanical failure, improper maintenance, driver error, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Anything becomes more unsafe when it’s broken, operated incorrectly, or used under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The same is especially true when operating an incredibly large and heavy piece of equipment on a busy highway.
Motorcycle, Bicycle, and Pedestrian Accidents
While car accidents have a low fatality rate (79,215 accidents in Minnesota in 2018 to only 381 deaths), the same is not true for motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents. Cars are built to protect the person inside, keeping them as safe as possible. Motorcyclists, cyclists, and pedestrians don’t benefit from that kind of protection.
If they’re hit, they’re more likely to suffer injuries or even fatalities. In 2016, there were 5,286 motorcyclists, 5,987 pedestrians, and 840 cyclists all killed in accidents. The number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths are the highest they’ve been since the early 1990s, while the motorcyclist rate hasn’t been that high since 2008.
In many of these cases, the accidents are caused by driver negligence. These are not often motorcyclists crashing into each other, but cars not paying attention and veering out of their lane or onto a sidewalk. These are mainly caused by distracted driving.
Medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., following heart disease and cancer. Three billion dollars were spent on malpractice payouts in 2012 alone. Since a single payout is made nearly every 43 minutes, it is a huge problem in the U.S.
Doctors and medical providers have a duty of care to their patients. This is based on what a person would do in the same situation with all the same knowledge. Basically, any doctor in a situation where someone is dying, knowing all the details that they know, should make a similar decision.
However, medical malpractice is when this duty of care is breached. For example, a doctor might decide to skip running a certain test. This could result in lack of good care for the patient because the doctor no longer has all the correct information.
Medical malpractice has a level of intent that medical negligence doesn’t. While medical negligence can be unintentional, it can still be as harmful.
Medical malpractice or negligence comes in many forms, such as misdiagnosis, delayed or incorrect treatment, birth injury, lack of informed consent, surgical errors, pharmaceutical errors, defective medical devices or medications, or hospital negligence.
In a lot of these scenarios, errors are the problem. It could be a new doctor or surgeon simply forgetting to do something or causing complications during surgery. It could be a pharmacist handing out the wrong prescription. These are tiny details that can be life-threatening.
Because of this, these cases are even more difficult to litigate. Proving that a doctor’s behavior or conduct led to negligence or malpractice and convincing the judge and jury that the doctor was in the wrong can be challenging. Having an experienced wrongful death lawyer is especially helpful with this type of case.
In 2018, 5,250 workers died on the job. That’s an average of 3.5 per 100,000 full-time workers, more than 100 work-related deaths a week, or more than 14 work-related deaths every single day.
Workplaces, depending on where you work, can be incredibly difficult. It shouldn’t matter how dangerous the job is, companies should provide employees with safe work environments no matter what. However, sometimes that doesn’t line up causing people to get hurt.
The most common (the “fatal four”) accidents at work are falls, electrocutions, being struck by an object, and being caught-in or caught between something. Falls can happen anywhere, making them the highest percentage of workplace deaths at 33.5%.
Struck by an object accounts for 11.1% of workplace deaths, while electrocutions count for 85%, and caught-in or in-between counts for 5.5% of deaths. These statistics are based on all workplace deaths as a whole. But where you work could make one of these more likely than the other. Electricians are much more likely to be electrocuted than people who don’t work with wires.
Defective products are another cause of wrongful deaths. Things like defective drugs, vehicle parts, children’s products, and toxic foods can all cause wrongful deaths.
Defective drugs can cause fatalities in a few different ways. This can include manufacturing defects, meaning that the drug was incorrectly manufactured or contaminated during the process. It can also be a design defect, or dangerous side effects, meaning that the drug was manufactured correctly, but the side effects can cause serious harm. And finally, failure to warn, meaning the dangerous side effects, instructions, or recommendations for use of the drug were not clear.
The same is true with other defective products. Manufacturing issues in vehicle parts and children’s products can both cause serious harm. If a part doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to in a car, it could lead to an accident. If a children’s product is defective, a child could swallow small parts or ingest something that causes fatality.
When it comes to toxic foods causing illness, food poisoning can be a serious problem. This could include restaurants or delis serving expired foods, or companies not properly labeling their expiration dates.
Contact Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyers at Sand Law
As you can see, wrongful death encompasses a lot of different areas. In many of these, cases can be hard to prove. A wrongful death suit is a civil action and is always separate from any criminal charges. When fatal injuries are caused by someone’s malpractice or negligence, it can be hard to move forward without justice. However, these cases are extremely difficult to take on alone.