The Fine Line of Wrongful Death

May 13, 2016
by Adler Markoff & Associates

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    The Fine Line of Wrongful Death

    Wrongful death is one of the most serious charges a person can be faced with. However, many people do not fully understand what, exactly, a wrongful case is and how they may be affected by it. In the most basic sense, a wrongful death lawsuit occurs when someone dies as a result of a negligent act. Any person or corporation that caused someone’s death may be faced with a wrongful death charge. There are many different circumstances that can lead to a wrongful death case, from a malfunctioning piece of machinery that causes someone’s death to a car accident that happened as a result of a drunk driver. It is important to keep in mind that there is a fine line between wrongful death and another similar charge, such as homicide, murder, or manslaughter. Since we get the question of “what is wrongful death?” a lot, we thought it would be beneficial to go over the ins and outs of this serious charge.

    Personal Injury or Wrongful Death?

    While claims for personal injury and wrongful death are similar in many ways, they are extremely different. Both claims are based on an act of negligence (oftentimes) and an individual suffers an injury in both cases, however, in a wrongful death claim someone dies as a result. Here are a few additional differences between the two:

    • Wrongful death cases are regulated by statute, whereas personal injury is based on common law
    • Wrongful death is not always based on negligence
    • Wrongful death lawsuits only take place after an injury results in the victim’s death
    • Wrongful death favors the deceased person’s estate and qualified survivors

    Before we go any further, let’s take note of the fact that it is typically the family – or more specifically, the next of kin or surviving spouse – who has the right to sue for wrongful death. These types of cases can be quite complicated, which is why it is important that you have a good handle on what to expect.

    Here is a look at a few types of cases that are typically involved in wrongful death lawsuits:

    • Car Accidents – More than 300,000 people die every year as a result of a car accident. There are many different causes of car accidents, including speeding, reckless driving, distracted driving, and road defects
      • Truck and motorcycle accidents also lead to wrongful death claims in many instances
    • Medical Malpractice – Unfortunately, medical malpractice is extremely common in the United States. Common examples of medical malpractice include birth injury, misdiagnosis, improper treatment, pharmaceutical errors, defective medical devices
    • Defective Products – Some examples of defective products causing wrongful deaths include toxic food products or containers, defective vehicles, dangerous toys, and pharmaceuticals
    • Workplace Accidents – While employers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees, this doesn’t always happen. Common workplace accidents include manufacturing accidents, exposure to toxic waste, repetitive motion and strain injuries, transportation industry accidents, and railroad worker injuries

    These are just a handful of examples of wrongful death. Please remember that this list is far from exhaustive and there are many other types of instances that could lead to a wrongful death lawsuit.

    Be sure you have the following information for your Oklahoma wrongful death attorney before filing a wrongful death suit:

    • The facts surrounding the accident or incident
    • The names and contact info of any witnesses
    • A description or picture of any evidence connected to the scene of the wrongful death

    If you have any additional questions or would like to learn more about filing a wrongful death claim in Oklahoma, please contact AMA Law.

    Request a free consultation

    (405) 607-8757