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Wrongful Death Defendants

Written by Kathleen Gagne
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The term wrongful death refers to any death resulting from the negligent conduct of another. It can include medical malpractice, exposure to toxic substances, an automobile accident caused by a high or drunk driver, or a construction accident caused when proscribed safety regulations were not followed. This list is not all inclusive, and, if you have questions about a death resulting from another type of incident, you should consider talking to a wrongful death attorney.

Suing Wrongful Death Defendants

When a person dies, and there is evidence that there was culpability on the part of the manufacturer of a defective product or negligence on the part of medical personnel or others, the person's family can sue for damages naming one or more wrongful death defendants such as a product designer or a nurse as well as a doctor. Wrongful death charges must be proven by the plaintiff's attorney in order for the plaintiffs to receive any kind of monetary award. When a verdict is rendered in favor of the plaintiffs, wrongful death defendants must often make payments totaling millions of dollars.

Under the common law process that was imported to the United States from England, there was no such thing as a wrongful death claim because, the law averred, all claims died with the victim. Surviving dependents had no recourse to damages. Today all states have wrongful death laws, and most have statutes of limitations on wrongful death claims. A statute of limitation determines how long survivors have in which to file a claim.

Wrongful Death Responsibility

The main theory behind wrongful death lawsuits is that the victim's survivors have not only incurred terrible and unnecessary grief but they have also lost the companionship of the deceased, and, in many cases, the family's finances are seriously depleted and cannot be replaced through normal means. Some cases of wrongful death are concurrent with criminal negligence so that wrongful death defendants may also face charges brought by the state.


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