A General Overview of Negligence and Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death. Negligence. We hear these terms thrown out all the time when we read the newspaper or watch TV. Both terms have a similar connotation. We know something “bad” happened to someone, something that should never have happened. However, most people don’t really know what these terms mean.

The legal concept of negligence means that someone has suffered physical and/or mental injuries caused by someone else being careless. Negligence is not derivative of an accident – someone else was not diligent and that failure to act properly was the cause of the injury. An example is featured on <a href="http://realestate.nola.com/?classification=real+estate&temp_type=search&tp=RE_nola&tl=42&guid=114135"NOLA.com when a family suffered damage to their home because of an inspector’s negligence in failing to report defects in the house.

A wrongful death claim arises when the victim died as a result of someone’s negligence. This type of claim, the victim’s surviving family is eligible for the amount of damages. This differs from a typical negligence claim because there, the actual victim is alive and able to receive the damages. Originally, a wrongful death claim was nonexistent because presumably the claim for damages died with the victim. Today, luckily, that is not the case and the grieving family is eligible for compensation for their loss.

The elements for a wrongful death claim are the following: (1) the death was caused by the conduct of the defendant; (2) the defendant was negligent for the victim’s death; (3) there is a surviving spouse, children, beneficiaries or dependents; and (4) monetary damages have resulted from the victim’s death.

For a regular negligence claim the four elements are similar except instead of “victim’s death” the appropriate term is “victim’s injuries”: (1) the defendant owed a duty to the victim; (2) the defendant breached the duty owed to the victim; (3) The defendant caused the victim’s injury; (4) damages/injury have resulted.

Types of wrongful death claims include auto accidents, medical malpractice, and chemical leaks. Negligence claims include those same examples and can include less serious and less life-threatening acts such as a slip and fall.

There is typically a statute of limitation of one year for wrongful death claims. That means the family of a victim has up to one year after the victim’s death to file suit against the defendant. One reason for a statute of limitation is to ensure the memories stay fresh in the minds of all parties involved. Therefore, there is not an abundance of time to act as soon as you suspect foul play when considering a loved one’s death. The law requires you act fast. If you suspect a loved one died due to another’s negligence, or you yourself were injured as a result of another’s negligence, call the Berniard Law Firm Toll-Free at 1-866-574-8005 and an attorney will be more than happy to help you.