A Wrongful Death lawsuit is a type of personal injury claim where the family of the deceased sues a person or company they believe is liable for the death of their loved one. At the center of a wrongful death case is the notion that the deceased would not have died without the negligent actions or willful intent of the defendant. That’s all well and good in theory, but what does this look like in practice?
Let’s say a busy mom is out running errands when all of a sudden a car barrels into her vehicle, killing her on impact. It’s later found the other driver was under the influence (or too busy paying attention to their phone instead of driving). While there are criminal implications in this case, the family can also choose to sue the driver. Because the driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs, he failed to operate his vehicle as a reasonable person would, causing an accident that resulted in a death.
What if we amend the above story a little bit and say that the busy mom would’ve lived if only her airbags had opened appropriately? A defective airbag failed to inflate, causing the busy mom her life. In this case, while the other driver is still at fault for the accident, family members could make a case that the automobile manufacturer is at fault for her death and sue the company for wrongful death.
The main idea behind a wrongful death case is that the deceased person would not have died if it hadn’t been for the actions or negligence of the plaintiff. A New York personal injury lawyer will need to prove the defendant was responsible for the death by a preponderance of evidence—a lower standard than “beyond a reasonable doubt”. The latter is the standard of evidence necessary in a criminal case.
For a wrongful death lawsuit to proceed, not only must there be a death that was caused by the negligence or actions of another person, but the death must also result in monetary difficulty to the surviving family members. Perhaps there are exorbitant medical bills to be paid after life-saving medical measures failed or expensive funeral costs that weren’t covered by insurance. This is the same for all personal injury cases. A New York personal injury lawyer can explain more.
Wrongful Death cases can be emotionally trying, but they can also help offer some closure. This is especially the case when a family feels the criminal justice system has failed them. For example, in the “Trial of the Century”, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of murdering his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. The families of the victims took their cases to civil court, filing wrongful death lawsuits against the former footballer. There, the jury found for the plaintiffs, agreeing that O.J. Simpson had caused the deaths of his wife and her friend. Part of the reason the court findings were different is because the standard of evidence varies in criminal and civil cases, as mentioned above.
If you and your family are dealing with the repercussions of what you believe to be a wrongful death, it is important you contact a New York personal injury law firm as soon as possible. Many reputable firms offer free consultations, allowing you to determine whether you should move forward with your lawsuit. A New York personal injury attorney can help you formulate your next steps as you work towards getting the justice your family deserves.