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Types of Wrongful Death

The loss of a close family member can be devastating. Despite the pain, it is often easier when you have time to prepare for the inevitable. However, a sudden, unforeseen death can be even more difficult to bear, whether it’s a car wreck, drowning, poisoning, workplace accident, or similar tragedy. If that happened to your loved one because of someone’s negligence or wrongful act, you might be eligible for compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.

A Nix Patterson wrongful death attorney can investigate the matter and determine you have a strong case. We will discuss your potential legal options if liability can be proven for your loss. The consultation is free, and you aren’t charged legal fees unless we win your case.

What Is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is when someone dies because of another person’s or entity’s misconduct or negligence. While a criminal case can be filed related to the death, a wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit separate from any criminal proceedings. The standard of proof in wrongful death cases is lower than in a criminal case for manslaughter or murder.

To have a wrongful death claim, the following statements must be true:

  • A person or entity engaged in negligent behavior or an intentional wrongful act
  • The action was the direct cause of your loved one’s death
  • You suffered damages associated with the death, including emotional and mental anguish, loss of income, inheritance, care and support

If your attorney proves these elements, the surviving members of the family or estate could collect wrongful death compensation. Most claims end in settlement, but the case can go to court if the insurance company does not offer a fair amount.

Many wrongful death cases are highlighted later in this article, such as car accidents, manufacturing defects, medical malpractice, and criminal acts. Each state has a wrongful death statute with its own rules and procedures for filing a wrongful death claim.

Depending on the state, the claim must be filed by certain family members or the estate’s personal representative. Your Nix Patterson wrongful death attorney will be familiar with the state’s laws where the death occurred and can advise on this matter.

Types of Wrongful Death Cases

In 2014, there were more than 199,000 deaths because of an injury, and 33,700 of them were because of a car accident. Learn more about the types of wrongful death below:

Car Accidents

Regarding fatal accidents, car crashes are at the top of the list in the United States because so many people drive. There are thousands of motor vehicle accidents in the country every month and thousands of deaths and injuries.

Most auto accidents are because of at least one driver’s negligence or wrongful act, such as running a red light or stop sign, speeding, reckless driving, DUI, or distracted driving. If any of these can be proven in court, the negligent driver could be liable for the death of your loved one.

The city or county could be at fault if the fatal accident happened because of road design or construction flaws. Whoever or whatever may have caused the accident, a Nix Patterson wrongful death attorney can review the case and work to determine who was responsible.

Tractor-Trailer Crashes

A truck accident also involves motor vehicles, but these accidents are in a class of their own because of crucial differences. First, semi-trucks are larger and heavier than other vehicles, so they are much more likely to cause death in a crash. Common causes of truck accidents can involve:

  • An oversized load
  • An overworked, tired truck driver
  • Loss of control of the vehicle
  • Aggressive driving

Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents

Auto accidents involving pedestrians are more likely to cause death because they lack protection from the vehicle and surroundings. Driver negligence is frequently the cause of pedestrian and bicycle accidents. However, the city or county could be liable if the driver couldn’t see the pedestrian because of a lack of walkways.

Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents are often more severe than car accidents because riders are more vulnerable than vehicle occupants. Statistics show motorcyclists are 24 times more likely than car drivers or passengers to die in a crash. In 2021, 5,900 motorcyclists were killed in the U.S., accounting for 14% of all traffic deaths.

Medical Malpractice

Most doctors and nurses are skilled and talented, but they still can make mistakes. These errors might occur when medical professionals cut corners, do not follow proper procedures, or just miss something.

Most medical malpractice cases stem from misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a medical condition. Mistakes during surgery when treating a condition is another common cause of wrongful death. If your loved one died in a suspected malpractice case, our attorney will rely on a team of medical experts to determine the cause and if it was preventable.

Accidental Poisoning and Overdoses

People in the chemical and petroleum industries are often exposed to dangerous substances. Toxic or industrial exposure can cause severe illnesses and diseases that can cause death. The nature of these exposures is often tragic because once the person knows they are sick, it may be too late to do anything. If the employer exposed workers to toxic substances without taking sufficient safety precautions, it could be found negligent in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Drowning or Boating Accidents

Drowning is the fifth most common cause of unintentional death in the U.S. Drowning-related accidents happen most often in home pools in people’s backyards. This is especially true with child victims, who comprise approximately 25% of all drowning victims. If a neighbor has a pool and your child drowns in it, they could be liable in a wrongful death claim, especially if the pool lacked a fence or cover.

Drownings also occur in boating accidents, which can occur because of the pilot’s or owner’s negligent act. Common reasons for boating accidents include boating while intoxicated (BUI), pilot distraction, speeding and reckless boating, and hitting stationary objects in the water.

Workplace Accidents and Illnesses

Serious or fatal accidents can happen at any workplace, but certain occupations are more dangerous than others. For instance, manual labor and construction jobs have a higher death rate, but a deadly accident can also happen in an office building or other seemingly ‘safe’ place. Also, an employer might be held accountable if they put a worker in an unsafe situation, such as working back-to-back 12-hour shifts, then the person ends up in a fatal car crash.

Premises Liability

If your loved one slipped and fell on another person’s property and died, you could have a premises liability claim. Such claims can arise if your loved one was legally allowed on the property and the owner did not take reasonable precautions to protect them from harm.

Dog Bites

Dog bite attacks are common but usually do not lead to death. However, if your loved one died because of a dog attack, the owner could be held responsible, and you could receive compensation for your economic and non-economic losses.

Intentional Acts

In most wrongful death lawsuits, no one intended for the person to die. However, you also could sue for wrongful death if the defendant intentionally caused the person’s death.

Even if there is an active murder charge pending, you can sue in civil court for your losses.

Defective Products

If your loved one died because of a defective product, the manufacturer could be liable for a product liability claim. Product liability is the main reason companies spend so much time testing their products before being released. Some common examples of defective product cases resulting in death are toxic foods, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, unsafe toys, and defective motor vehicles.

How Long Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take?

The timeline varies. Some cases where the defendant was clearly at fault could be settled in a few months. The insurance company may be leery of allowing the case to go to court, where a jury could award much more than in a settlement. However, some cases can take several years to settle. It takes time and effort for the case to be investigated, evidence collected, and for settlement negotiations to occur.

Contact Nix Patterson’s Wrongful Death Attorneys Today

Losing a loved one is always difficult, but the pain and heartbreak are magnified when the person dies because of someone’s negligence or wrongful act. You could receive compensation for your losses if you prove someone else was negligent in the death. Contact our Nix Patterson wrongful death attorneys today for a complimentary legal consultation.


Nix Patterson only works on a contingency fee basis. Our clients pay us nothing unless we win. Schedule a free consultation today. Call 512.328.5333 or complete the form below. 

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