It’s crucial to distinguish between wrongful death and negligence when someone is hurt or killed by another. Negligence does not always cause wrongful death. Anyone affected by a wrongful death accident must understand these two legal concepts.
This blog post will look at the key differences between wrongful death and negligence to help those affected by such accidents better understand their rights and potential remedies.
The Legal Definition of Wrongful Death
Wrongful death occurs when someone dies due to another’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional act. Wrongful death is a civil claim, which means it is brought by the survivors of the deceased individual and not by the government. These survivors, usually close family members, are entitled to financial compensation for their losses due to another party’s negligence or other wrongdoing.
To qualify as a wrongful death case, there must be evidence that the negligent or intentional act of another party caused the death of an individual. This evidence must also demonstrate that this act was so dangerous that it would have been considered negligent even if the individual had not died. The types of personal injury cases that may qualify as wrongful death include:
- Medical malpractice
- Car accidents
- Defective products
- Construction accidents
- Dog bites, etc.
The deceased’s family must prove that their loved one would have been alive had it not been for the negligence of another. They must also prove that they have suffered losses due to wrongful death, such as medical costs, funeral expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. If successful, these survivors may be entitled to compensation for their losses.
The Statute of Limitations for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The statute of limitations in your jurisdiction limits the time you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit, which can be complicated. These statutes limit your time to sue after a loved one dies.
The exact amount of time you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit will depend on the state in which you are filing. Generally, it is two years from the date of death in most states, though some states may provide more or less time depending on the circumstances.
Any delay in filing a wrongful death suit may be fatal to your case, as the statutes of limitations are very strict, and courts will not accept late filings. Therefore, if you think you have a claim, it is important to contact an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to help you understand the legal process and ensure that you meet all filing requirements within the specified period.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is a term used in the law to describe the failure of a person or entity to exercise the proper level of care and caution in a situation. It is often called a “lack of ordinary care” or “failure to act reasonably.” In other words, it is the failure to take reasonable steps to avoid harm or injury to another.
Negligence can arise from either an act or omission. An act of Someone else’s negligence occurs when a person fails to act with the level of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in similar circumstances. An omission of negligence occurs when a person fails to do something they had a duty to do, such as failing to provide medical attention when injured.
Under tort law, people and companies can be held liable for the harm their negligent acts or omissions cause others.
What are the Four Types of Negligence?
The four types of negligence include:
Gross negligence is when an individual’s behavior is so reckless or negligent that it is considered to be a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others. It goes beyond a simple mistake or judgment error but constitutes a conscious choice to disregard safety.
Comparative negligence looks at the fault of both parties involved in the accident. If it is determined that both parties are at fault, then each party will be assigned a percentage of fault. The more negligent party will have their award amount reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to them. This type of negligence does not have to involve just two parties; multiple parties may be found to be at fault.
Contributory negligence means that the deceased was partially responsible for their death. In this case, the plaintiff cannot recover any damages for the wrongful death since the deceased had some responsibility for their demise. Most states have adopted a modified version of contributory negligence, allowing plaintiffs to recover some damages even if they were partially at fault.
Vicarious negligence is when an employer is held liable for their employee’s actions while working. The employer must demonstrate that they provided proper training and supervision to their employee to avoid liability.
What Types of Compensation Can I Recover in a Case of Negligence?
In negligence cases, victims are typically entitled to compensation for their losses. This compensation can include economic damages (such as lost wages, medical expenses, etc.) and non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering). Victims may also recover punitive damages if the defendant acted with gross negligence or intentional misconduct.
Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for their misconduct and deter them from engaging in future wrongdoing. Depending on the facts of the case, victims may also be able to receive compensation for future damages (such as future medical expenses), emotional distress, loss of consortium (loss of companionship), and loss of enjoyment of life.
In addition, family members may be able to bring a wrongful death claim if their loved one died due to the defendant’s negligent act.
What Is Contributory Negligence?
Contributory negligence is a legal defense that can sometimes be raised by defendants sued for negligence. The theory behind this defense is that the victim was partially responsible for their injuries because they failed to act with the same care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in similar circumstances.
In some jurisdictions, contributory negligence serves as a complete bar to any recovery, meaning even if the defendant was negligent, the victim could not recover any compensation if they were partially responsible for his injuries.
However, most states now use comparative fault systems, allowing victims to collect some damages even if they were partially responsible for their injuries. For instance, under these systems, a victim who was 40% responsible for his injuries could still recover 60% of his total damages from the negligent party.
What Is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Negligence?
Wrongful death and negligence are separate legal concepts, but their differences can confuse some. Wrongful death is when a person dies due to the negligent or reckless behavior of another person or entity. Negligence, on the other hand, is when a person fails to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm or death to another person.
To prove negligence, you must show that the defendant had a duty to exercise reasonable care and breached that duty, which resulted in harm or death to another person. Examples of negligence include:
- Need to install safety devices on a construction site.
- Failing to take reasonable steps to avoid an accident.
- Failing to provide adequate medical care.
Wrongful death and negligence are serious legal issues; it is important to seek legal advice if you believe either has occurred. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help you determine if your case has grounds for a wrongful death claim and how best to proceed.
Why Should You Contact an Attorney for an Accident vs. Negligence Case?
When a wrongful death occurs due to the negligence of another, the family of the deceased may be able to file a claim for compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, and other damages. To do this, however, the family must prove that someone else’s negligence caused their loved one’s death.
The following are some of the reasons why you may need an experienced lawyer to represent your case:
Wrongful death cases can involve complex laws; an experienced attorney will understand them and how they apply to your case. They will know the best way to present your claim to maximize compensation. Also, your attorney will provide emotional support throughout the process and ensure your rights are protected every step of the way.
Understanding the Legal Process
An experienced lawyer can help you understand the complexities of the legal system, including filing deadlines and statutes of limitation. They will also ensure that all necessary documents are filed promptly. An experienced wrongful death attorney will be familiar with gathering evidence and how to use it effectively in court.
A wrongful death lawsuit may require courtroom appearances and the cross-examination of witnesses. An experienced lawyer will know how to effectively present your case in court and prepare any necessary legal documents.
Experience with Insurance Companies
Dealing with insurance companies is part of the wrongful death claims process, and an experienced attorney knows how to handle them to get the maximum compensation. Your lawyer should have a solid understanding of insurance policies and coverage limits so they can negotiate on your behalf for the maximum settlement.
A Lawyer Will be Able to Challenge Evidence That May Harm Your Case
An experienced lawyer will know what evidence to look for that could damage your case. They can challenge this evidence and even attempt to exclude it from the proceedings if needed. Additionally, an attorney will anticipate counterarguments and objections from opposing parties before they are raised in court.
Advice on Settlement Agreements
If the other party offers a settlement, a lawyer can evaluate whether it’s fair and reasonable for you. They will advise whether or not taking the offer would be beneficial or if a better deal could be negotiated. Moreover, a skilled attorney will know when to accept an offer and when to push further to achieve the best outcome possible.
If the accident was caused by negligent conduct by a specific person or organization, the law might offer compensation in the form of a personal injury claim. Having a lawyer who understands the complexities of a wrongful death claim can help ensure that your case is handled correctly and that your loved one’s death is not in vain.
What Is the Main Difference Between an Accident and an Incident?
The main difference between an accident and an incident is intent. An accident is an unintentional act resulting in damage or injury, while an incident has been deliberately done and could have been avoided. Incidents usually have criminal implications and carry heavier penalties when compared to accidents.
For example, if a person negligently operates a vehicle and causes an accident resulting in injury, this would be considered an accident. In contrast, if the person purposefully drove into another vehicle, then this would be considered an incident.
Similarly, workplace accidents typically don’t result in criminal charges, but incidents can lead to investigations and potential criminal charges. Additionally, incidents can involve greater civil liability than accidents since they typically arise out of intentional acts rather than unintentional ones.
Trust SEAY/FELTON Serious Injury Attorneys
With your case at SEAY/FELTON Serious Injury Attorneys, our experienced lawyers understand the sensitive nature of wrongful death claims. We specialize in representing families whose loved ones have been tragically taken away from them due to negligence. Our firm provides personalized attention throughout the entire legal process and works closely with our clients to ensure their rights are protected throughout their cases.
Our dedicated attorneys will fight for you every step of the way and ensure your rights are protected throughout the litigation. We work hard to ensure that those responsible for your loss face accountability, so you can begin healing from this difficult experience. Contact us at (404) 902-6444 for a free consultation to discuss how we can help you seek justice and obtain the maximum compensation available under the law.