Wrongful death civil lawsuits may be filed when a death is the result of negligence by another person or entity (such as a company). The district attorney may pursue a criminal suit against a defendant, which often seeks jail time. Civil lawsuits generally involve monetary compensation. They can be filed even in cases where a criminal case is pending or complete. If you’ve lost a loved one and are interested in pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit, the following information may be helpful.
Common Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death can occur in almost any circumstance. They can involve:
- Medical Malpractice
- Auto and/or Pedestrian Accidents
- Workplace Incidents
- Airline Accidents
- Consumer Products
- Intentional Acts
Proving Wrongful Death
There are 3 factors to proving wrongful death:
- The Defendants Had a Duty of Care
- They Breached that Duty
- The Breach of Duty Caused the Death
In a pedestrian accident involving a DUI, one would argue that everyone has a duty of care when operating a vehicle. By driving drunk and hitting a pedestrian, a driver breaches that duty.
In the case of consumer products, product manufacturers, distributors, and even marketers have a duty of care. If they intentionally hide or ignore a safety hazard or defect that results in consumer deaths, that could be considered a breach of duty. The tricky thing is linking the product to the cause of death. Some causes are easier to prove than others.
The passengers who died in the two airline crashes of the Boeing 737 Max 8 planes caused by undisclosed software changes are another example of wrongful death. Boeing has settled over 60 wrongful death civil lawsuits brought by families of those victims.
Given the criteria above for wrongful death, almost anyone can be sued, including individuals and/or companies. In fact, a single case can name multiple defendants. Just this morning, we heard on the news about a class action lawsuit for a teeth-whitening system that names both the manufacturer and celebrities who promoted the product as defendants.
Who Can File Wrongful Death Civil Lawsuits
Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought by heirs of the deceased who suffered harm as a result of the death. Heirs can include family members and unmarried life partners. Representatives of heirs may also file suit on behalf of the heirs (such as in cases where heirs are minors). If you wish to discuss a potential wrongful death civil lawsuit, schedule a consultation with our team of Massachusetts real estate attorneys. We can review the circumstances surrounding the death of your loved one and provide guidance on the best way to proceed with your claim. We understand how emotional and complex these cases can be and will represent your best interests n a civil lawsuit.