What Makes a Fatal Accident a Wrongful Death?

February 10, 2017 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
What Makes a Fatal Accident a Wrongful Death?

Anytime a loved one dies suddenly, it is tragic and difficult to cope with. Unfortunately, it happens every day, for all kinds of reasons. But when does an unfortunate death become a wrongful death?

A wrongful death lawsuit is often brought against a person or party who the family of the deceased feel was negligent or contributed to the death in some way. In this type of lawsuit, the victims' family can seek out compensation for the financial losses they have acquired as a result of the death. They may also bring about the lawsuit as a way to seek justice against those whose negligent behavior has claimed the life of their loved one.

For example, in a fatal car accident, criminal charges are often not filed against the liable party because of the incidents accidental nature. This leaves a wrongful death lawsuit as the only legal alternative for the affected family to seek justice for their loss.

The following are some scenarios in which the death of a loved one may be eligible for a wrongful death lawsuit. Obviously, the below instances are not always eligible for a lawsuit, but when they are, they can help to alleviate some of the financial pressure that a death places on families. The loss of a loved one is hard enough; the families shouldn't have to bear the mental anguish and the financial pressure.

Deaths often leave behind medical bills, lost income from the family member, funeral costs, and the non-monetary costs of a child losing their parent, a spouse losing their partner, or a parent losing their child.

Some examples of scenarios that can lead to a wrongful death lawsuit are:

Auto Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are probably the most common scenario in which people file wrongful death lawsuits. This is because there are plenty of ways that a driver's negligence can turn deadly. After all, it is easy to forget that cars are multi-ton hunks of steel speeding through space. For example, a distracted driver that causes a fatal wreck can be held civilly liable for their behavior. When a person operates a motor vehicle, they have a responsibility to operate the vehicle in a safe way. When a person chooses to ignore this obligation, they deserve to be held liable.

Drunk driving

A drunk driver is a prime candidate to be held liable for a fatality they cause. It is clear to see how someone's decision to drive impaired can make him or her legally responsible for the financial repercussions. Additionally, Florida also has something called dram shop laws' which work to hold negligent bars and restaurants partially liable for a fatal drunk driving accident that may have occurred because they continued to serve an intoxicated patron.

Workplace Accident

The workplace offers plenty of opportunity for tragedy. This is the second most common source of wrongful death lawsuits. A fatal work accident can occur in many different ways, but the most at risk are those who work on construction sites, in industrial zones, at chemical plants, or at other sites that are considered to be hazardous or dangerous. When a death occurs to an employee at work, their employer or company may be financially liable for the damages.

Premises Liability

A wrongful death lawsuit may be an option when a person suffers a fatal accident due to a property owner's negligence or failure to warn of a possibly hazardous situation. It is rare for a person to die from a slip-and-fall or other type of common premise liability scenario, but there are other situations that fit into this category (like accidental drowning).

Negligent Supervision

Negligent supervision (also known as a negligent entrustment) occurs when a supervising adult fails to properly provide for the safety of a child that is in their care. This may be a babysitter, friend, family member, school, or daycare facility. When someone entrusts their child to the care of someone else (especially when they are paying for the service) they expect that person to exercise a certain duty of care. When they do not, they may file a lawsuit.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice may lead to a wrongful death claim if a medical professional fails to provide a standard level of care. This may come in the form of a wrongful or missed diagnosis, a botched surgery, or negligent treatment. Medical malpractice cases are often difficult to prove because of necessary legal protections for health care providers.

Criminal Attack

Criminal violence, like murder, manslaughter, or assault, might also be grounds for a wrongful death claim to be filed. Often, a wrongful death lawsuit will be brought against the liable party even if criminal charges have already been filed.

Defective Products

Defective or harmful products kill or injure thousands of people each year. America consumes and produces goods at a staggering rate, lending itself towards accidents and injury. But when a defective product kills a person, it can lead to a wrongful death claim, especially if the company had some knowledge of their products danger.

Wrongful deaths happen in a wide range of ways for a wide range of reasons. Whether or not a negligent party intended to cause harm to another person, doesn't change the reality of the situation. If a person was negligent in any way, a wrongful death lawsuit can possibly be brought against them in most situations.

If you have lost a loved one due to negligent behavior by another person, you should consider contacting a wrongful death attorney to learn more about your legal options. Through a wrongful death lawsuit, the aggrieved family can seek compensation both for their loved one's pain and suffering, medical bills prior to their passing, and funeral expenses, as well as the family members, own pain, and suffering as a result of their loss.

Dolman Law Group

At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we specialize in wrongful death cases. We understand the sensitivity of the situation and will do everything we can to help alleviate as much of the stress and financial pain as possible. We understand that you need an experienced attorney to meet your needs during this difficult time and that it is exactly what we provide. Call us for a free consultation. We will answer your questions and go over your options in a professional and respectful manner. We look forward to meeting you.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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