Third party claims are filed against individuals or businesses whose negligence was the cause of injuries. These can arise out of a variety of circumstances such as traffic accidents, medical malpractice, defective products and more. But when the injuries are fatal, then families may pursue a wrongful death claim against the third party.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims Filed against Third Parties
Work Accidents: Although employees are covered by workers’ compensation, if another party’s negligence caused a fatal accident — someone other than the employer or a co-worker — a wrongful death claim could be filed against the third party. An example would be a construction worker who is electrocuted on a job site as a result of faulty wiring that a property owner (not the worker’s employer) failed to fix.
Traffic Accidents: Another type of wrongful death claim could stem from a traffic accident. If a drunk driver kills a loved one, instead of filing a claim with the deceased’s insurance company, it would be filed with the drunk driver’s insurer. If a defect in the vehicle is to blame, a manufacturer could be liable as a third party.
Product Liability: If a product’s design results in someone’s death, a claim may be filed against a third party such as a manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor and/or retailer. An example would be a crib that collapses, killing an infant, or a gun that discharges without the trigger being pulled.
Medical Malpractice: A medical provider is another type of third party that could be liable in a wrongful death claim. It may result from a doctor failing to diagnose a patient properly, a nurse administering a lethal dose of medication or a surgeon accidentally cutting a vital organ during an operation.
Premises Liability: If a loved one was killed on someone’s property, such as a child drowning in a neighbor’s pool because the pool cover was left off or a gate was left open, a wrongful death claim may be filed. Or if someone fell when a railing gave way at a mall, the property owner may be responsible for the person’s death.
These are just some examples of third parties that could be named in a wrongful death claim. The most important elements are establishing negligence and connecting it to the loss of life.
Recovery of Damages in a Wrongful Death Case against a Third Party
Not just anyone can be compensated in a wrongful death. Generally those who are entitled to recover damages include spouses, children and parents. There are special rules that apply, depending on the surviving dependents.
For instance, if there is a spouse and children, the husband or wife is entitled to $50,000 and half of the estate’s balance. The remaining portion is divided equally among the children. It’s a good idea to talk with an attorney about the disbursement of a wrongful death settlement.
Typically, the types of damages that can be recovered include the medical expenses related to the wrongful death. So if the deceased was hospitalized for a time or underwent surgery prior to passing, those costs would be included in a claim.
If the surviving family members were dependent on the deceased financially, the income that is no longer available may be addressed in a wrongful death claim. This may even include fringe benefits, such as medical coverage or a pension plan.
The emotional impact of losing a loved one could lead to damages such as pain and suffering, grief, loss of companionship, and more.
Contact Gacovino, Lake & Associates
To discuss whether there’s a viable case when it’s believed that a third party caused a loved one’s wrongful death, contact an attorney. At Gacovino, Lake & Associates, we can help clients establish third party liability when pursuing damages related to their loved one’s death.