Personal Injury Blog

A wrongful death is one which could have been prevented by another's actions or failure to take actionLosing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence is a heartbreaking and traumatic experience. Whether a wrongful death is due to a motor vehicle accident or to workplace hazards, this traumatic and life-changing event can be caused by a wide array of circumstances and impact a family’s emotional and financial well-being forever.

A wrongful death is one which could have been prevented by another's actions or failure to take action. According to Florida Statutes sections 768.16-768.26, or what is known as the Wrongful Death Act, when a person’s death "is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty" of another person or entity, the survivors or estate of the decedent may bring a civil lawsuit for the death and any losses caused by it.

In order for a person or entity to be held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit, it must be proven that the defendant had a duty of care to the deceased person, which is the legal responsibility to act with reasonable care to ensure that your actions do not harm others.

Some of the most common types of wrongful death cases include:

1. Motor Vehicle Accidents

Car crashes are the most common cause of wrongful death. There are more than 14 million licensed drivers in Florida alone, and the majority of automobile accident fatalities are caused by negligent behaviors, such as speeding, distracted driving, running red lights, and driving under the influence (DUI). Due to their weight and large size, accidents involving semi-trucks often lead to fatalities. When a large truck crashes into a smaller vehicle, passengers are more likely to sustain serious injuries or death. Driving with an oversized load, operating a vehicle with mechanical issues, or even drowsy driving are common factors in accidents involving big trucks.

A negligent driver can be held liable for the deaths of those involved in a motor vehicle accident, such as in the wrongful death claim brought against tennis star Venus Williams for the death of Jerome Barson in June 2017. If an accident occurred due to issues with the road, traffic lights or other external factors, the city or county where the accident occurred may be held liable.

2. Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents often happen when drivers follow too closely or fail to take notice of motorcyclists when changing lanes. Motorcyclists also are susceptible to crashes due to defects in the road or other types of hazards, such as debris or wet conditions.

3. Bicycle Accidents

Often, bicycle accidents take place when motorists are not paying attention to the road or become aggressive with bicyclists. In the U.S., bike lanes are traditionally on the right, and crashes can happen when a vehicle makes a right turn, either hitting the cyclist or cutting them off. When drivers fail to look for bicyclists when turning left at intersections, this can result in hitting a bicyclist crossing their path.

Bicycle accidents are common in urban areas and can cause serious injuries or fatalities. Motorists may drive too close and clip a bicyclist on the road, causing the cyclist to crash. Another cause of accidents involving cyclists, called "dooring," occurs when someone in a parked vehicle opens a door into a bike lane, causing the cyclist to collide with the door. To avoid hitting a door, a bicyclist may have to veer into traffic and risk being hit by another vehicle.

4. Pedestrian Accidents

In 2016, 5,987 pedestrian deaths were the result of traffic crashes, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Safety Administration. Since pedestrians do not have any protection when walking, accidents involving pedestrians are more likely to cause fatalities. If sidewalks or other areas are unsafe or provide inadequate protection, the local municipality may be held liable for a pedestrian’s wrongful death.

5. Medical Malpractice

The vast majority of healthcare providers care about their patients and are highly skilled and properly trained; however, human error and mistakes do still happen. When medical professionals or hospitals cut corners or fail to follow proper procedures, injury and wrongful death can occur. Examples of medical malpractice include:

  • Birth injuries
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Delayed or improper treatment
  • Lack of informed consent
  • Medication errors
  • Surgical errors
  • Defective medical devices
  • Hospital negligence

6. Defective Products

If someone is killed as the result of a defective product, the manufacturer of the product can be held liable. Depending on the circumstances, every business in the chain of distribution may be held liable, including the company that designed the product, the manufacturer, and the organization that sold the product.

Examples of defective products that can cause wrongful deaths include:

  • Motor vehicles
  • Child car seats
  • Toys
  • Tools and machinery
  • Pharmaceutical drugs

7. Workplace Accidents

Workplace safety is a serious concern. According to data from the National Safety Council, "every 7 seconds... a worker is injured on the job." While high-risk occupations, such as construction and manufacturing, have more frequent instances of workplace fatalities, wrongful death can occur at any type of job. If an employer fails to properly maintain equipment or a safe premises, they may be held liable for workplace accidents or deaths.

8. Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

When nursing home residents are neglected or abused, fatal injuries can occur. Some common forms of abuse may include physical abuse, malnourishment or dehydration, and failure to properly provide medical attention or monitor residents, resulting in falls, bed sores and other complications. For example, if a nursing home violated Florida's elder abuse laws, the facility may be held liable.

If You’ve Lost a Loved One, Then We Can Help

If you have suffered the wrongful death of a loved one, our experienced attorneys can provide the legal support you need and help you receive the compensation you deserve. To schedule a consultation with a wrongful death lawyer, contact Lowman Law Firm in Brooksville at 352-888-4484 or toll-free at 866-9-LOWMAN.

Know Your Rights | Lowman Law Firm Blog

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