There were 173,040 accidental deaths in 2020, but for your family, statistics don’t matter. What matters is that you lost a loved one prematurely, and nothing can give them back.
And on top of navigating life without your loved one, you now have to figure out how to afford navigating life without them, which is a calculus no family should have to make.
But before you call a wrongful death lawyer, it helps to understand some basic terminology—after all, it may make a difference in whether or not you have a case. Here’s a look at accidental deaths, wrongful deaths, and why the difference matters.
What are Accidental Deaths?
Under the law, accidental death is a death caused by a lawful act performed under the reasonable belief that no one would be harmed. In other words, someone did something that they were not wrong to do, reasonably believing that no one would be hurt, but in this case, someone was.
What is a Wrongful Death?
Then there’s a wrongful death, which is the type of loss that would lead you to call a wrongful death lawyer like sweetlaw.com.
A wrongful death claim is brought when one party is the cause of another party’s death (intentionally or through negligence), thus allowing the loved ones of a deceased person to file a lawsuit against the person legally liable for their death.
A few common types of wrongful deaths include:
- Medical malpractice
- Birth injury
- Car accidents
- Work accidents
- Defective products
Keep in mind that a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought when someone intentionally killed another person. O.J. Simpson was sued in civil court for the wrongful deaths of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman, which were separate from the state criminal charges against him. This is why Simpson was acquitted of murder yet found liable for wrongful death.
Accidental Death vs Wrongful Death
The difference between accidental death and wrongful death may be critical in whether or not you have a legal case. This often comes down to details of the case and how you prove wrongful death.
Let’s say a loved one was killed in a car accident. If the other driver followed all local laws, rounded the corner, and struck another car, killing someone inside entirely by accident, this would be considered an accidental death because it was not the result of negligence or wrongful actions.
However, if the driver were to kill someone while breaking traffic laws or driving while distracted (a form of negligence) this would be considered wrongful death, and damages can be recovered.
How do you prove wrongful death? You need four things: negligence, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Because accidental deaths are not the result of negligence or a breach of duty, causation and damages become irrelevant, and you don’t have a legal case.
Guiding Your Family Through a Difficult Time
Whether you’re fighting through accidental deaths or wrongful deaths, the reality is that one way or another, your family is going through an incredibly difficult time. You need all the support you can get. Make sure to check out our blog for more great advice to help guide you through this time and get back on your feet again.