The causes for a case resulting in a death claim are potentially unlimited, but there are four major categories which have the highest probabilities.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
In 2007, 41,059 people died in motor vehicle accidents in the United States. While there are no statistics available as to how many of these were due to the negligence of a third party, the likelihood of wrongful death is highest in this category given the sheer number of fatalities.
Common causes of fatalities in motor vehicle accidents that result in lawsuits include speeding, reckless driving, driving while under the influence, vehicle equipment malfunction and driver inexperience.
Medical malpractice occurs when a physician does not provide medical care to an expected standard of competence or dispenses medical treatment that a competent doctor would not have given. This may also be applicable to health care providers, such as nurses.
Preventable medical errors take the lives of approximately 98,000 Americans per year. That equates to 285 deaths every day.
Medical malpractice runs the gauntlet from prescription mistakes to failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis to negligent maternity care, with an alarming number of causes in between.
In 2007, a total of 5,888 people died as a result of accidents in the workplace.
The number one cause of these types of cases was motor vehicle accidents and represents approximately one-quarter of the workplace fatalities.
In 2007, 835 workers died in falls, whether from non-moving vehicles, on the same level, into holes or from roofs, to place this form of workplace accident in second position.
Other workplace accidents noted in the Department of Labor’s statistics were caused by: falling objects; electrocution; homicides; railway incidents; aircraft incidents; struck by mobile equipment; fires and explosions.
Ninety percent of workplace fatalities occur in the private sector, primarily in the service providing and goods producing industries.
One out of every 125 men who dies over 50 years old is a victim of asbestos-caused diseases. It can take from 10 to 40 years for diseases caused by asbestos to develop.
Ten thousand deaths per year are attributable to asbestos, just under 3 per day.
Approximately 9,000 people die each year from food poisoning. Deliberate product tampering or unsafe manufacturing practices which cause accidental contamination may be at fault.
Product cases can also stem from pharmaceuticals, unsafe packaging, failure to place warnings regarding the product on packaging, mechanical failures, improper or unsafe building construction and unsafe vehicle design.
The above information is not meant to be comprehensive but, rather, a general overview of common causes of wrongful death.
To receive specific legal advice pertinent to your circumstances, an experienced personal injury attorney should be consulted.
Attorney Art Morgan, for the past three decades, has been helping injured clients and families collect millions of dollars in losses ranging from motor vehicle accidents to wrongful death, to medical malpractice. He is one of the founders of the Law Offices of Halkides, Morgan & Kelley.