Wrongful Death: Injured
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Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death claims are usually brought by the estate of a person who was killed due to fault of another. The most common plaintiffs are the surviving spouse or the children of the deceased. The wrongful death laws differ from state to state. Generally, the elements are the same and include a death of a human being which was caused either by negligence or the intent to harm. The surviving family members usually need to be suffering a monetary injury as a result of the death. A wrongful death lawsuit often ties in with other personal injury lawsuits including vehicle accidents or medical malpractice.

Recently in Wrongful Death Category

In an unexpected, if not unprecedented, criminal trial, the former CEO of Massey Energy Company Don Blankenship was sentenced to a year in prison on conspiracy charges for violating federal mine safety laws.

As Senator Joe Manchin III, who was the governor of West Virginia when an explosion in a Massey Energy-owned Upper Big Branch mine killed 29 miners in 2010, told The New York Times, “I never heard of anyone thinking that that could happen or would happen, because it had never happened before.”

Drug overdoses can be anything from simple mistakes to suicide attempts and they can have tragic consequences. In some cases those consequences can extend to dealers, friends, or family of the person who overdoses. Some states have begun prosecuting drug dealers with murder if a customer overdoses, and others are bypassing Good Samaritan protections and charging friends who dial 911 for overdosing friends with drug crimes.

And beyond possible criminal charges, could you be sued if you gave someone drugs that led to a deadly overdose? Or if someone overdoses in your house? Here’s a look at civil liability for drug overdoses.

How to Prove Fault in a Wrongful Death Case

If you lost a loved one due to the negligence or deliberate misconduct of another, you can sue for wrongful death. To succeed in such a claim you have to prove that the death was caused by another person’s action or inaction and that there was no unforeseeable intervening cause.

Proving fault is not always straightforward, and of course there are defenses to claims of negligence. But there are certainly cases when a defendant is found guilty of wrongful death, despite being found not guilty in a criminal trial, as most famously illustrated by OJ Simpson. Let’s examine the elements of a wrongful death claim.

Fatal Injury: Wrongful Death for Food Poisoning

It is never fun to imagine our loved ones leaving us forever and there is no legal victory that can make up for the pain of a death, especially a wrongful one. That said, if a family loses a member due to food poisoning, a wrongful death claim is available to some members of the clan.

Food poisoning is very common, as are injury lawsuits associated with this particular harm. Fortunately, however, fatal food poisoning is much more rare. Let's look at wrongful death lawsuits in this context, like the recently-settled case against a California restaurant that was blamed for serving contaminated scallops that allegedly led to a death in 2014.

What Damages Are Awarded in Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

Unlike other lawsuits, wrongful death claims are inevitably made on behalf of another. As the name indicates, the suit is based on a claim that the deceased died due to the defendant’s negligence, or worse.

There are two general categories of damages awarded in such lawsuits, pecuniary and punitive. Pecuniary, or financial, damages attempt to calculate the financial value of a particular life while punitive damages serve as a punishment to the defendant. Let’s take a look at both types here.

A suicide is a tragedy, and after someone takes their own life, we look for reasons why. Most often, those reasons fall to the person’s own unhappiness or mental illness. But that is not always the case. In some situations, it appears that a person has been pushed to commit suicide, or become more suicide-prone than he or she normally would be.

In these cases, could someone else be liable for a person’s suicide? And are there legal claims that cover these scenarios?

Wrongful Death and Intestacy: How to Collect Damages If There's No Will

When a person is killed due to the misconduct or negligence of another, a representative of the estate of the deceased may sue for wrongful death. But there are limitations on who can sue, and there is some confusion about who can receive damages if they are awarded. Not everyone who qualifies for inheritance under a state intestacy statute can collect wrongful death damages.

Can I Sue for a Foreign Wrongful Death?

If a loved one dies overseas, you may be able to sue for wrongful death in the United States. The overseas element will, however, add a level of complexity to an already complicated litigation.

You can argue that an American court has jurisdiction over a foreign defendant. Foreigners are subject to suit in the U.S. based on ties to this country, and sometimes suits are even filed here by foreign plaintiffs against foreign defendants based on incidents that occurred abroad. Still, establishing jurisdiction is procedurally intense and not at all obvious. You will need a lawyer.

Inmate Wrongful Deaths: Suing for Neglect or Abuse in Jail or Prison

Family members of inmates who die while serving time due to abuse or neglect can sue for wrongful death. Who can family members sue and what damages can be recovered? The answers to these question depend on the type of institution where the inmate was held, the manner of death, and certain statutory considerations.

Systems of incarceration are deliberately confusing and you will need an attorney. But there are some basics to understand in advance of a consultation that will help you understand your legal options. Your lawyer will ultimately help you determine the best course of action.

The City of Baltimore has reached a tentative $6.4 million settlement agreement with the family of Freddie Gray. Gray died in April after suffering a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody.

Baltimore has already paid a total of $5.7 million to settle more than 120 police brutality lawsuits since 2011, and the latest payout would be approved just days before another pre-trial hearing in the criminal case against the six officers charged in Gray's homicide.