A wrongful death action
is a tort action brought by the estate or survivors of a victim who died as a result of someone else’s negligence. The survivors of the deceased are entitled to pecuniary damages as a result of the defendant’s conduct. Most states have enacted wrongful death statutes
over the years to codify into statute this tort action.
A wrongful death suit
has certain key elements to it. The first element of the wrongful death suit is a death of someone as a result of another’s actions. The conduct resulting in the death of another may have been due to negligence, or the conduct resulting in death may cause liability to attach through another tort doctrine known as strict liability.
In a wrongful death action under the doctrine of negligence
, an offending party has a duty to adhere to the standard of a reasonable person in conducting himself. If the defendant breached his duty to adhere to the standard of reasonable persons of ordinary prudence, and that breach proximately resulted in the victim’s death, the victim’s beneficiaries or personal representative are entitled to compensation.
In a wrongful death action under a theory of strict liability
, certain statutorily defined conduct holds a wrongdoer strictly liable for his actions. The person who causes injuries that result in another’s death may be held liable without proving fault, even if his actions did not proximately cause the victim’s death.
Some examples of these might be a death from fireworks use, or a victim’s death from a noxious chemical spill or gas explosion. A death stemming from these narrowly defined situations would hold companies or individuals strictly liable for damages. This finding relieves the victim’s beneficiaries of the burden to prove the elements of fault required in a wrongful death negligence suit
. To discuss whether you have a wrongful death claim
with an experienced wrongful death attorney
, visit InjuryBoard's free Ask an Attorney
- About Personal Injury Torts
- Wrongful Death: Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrongful Death Help Center