As its name implies, a wrongful death is one that should not have occurred. More specifically, someone’s negligence or wrongdoing causes the wrongful death of another. The term also refers to the type of lawsuit you can bring against the alleged perpetrator who caused your loved one’s untimely and wrongful death..
As you might expect, wrongful death can result from a variety of situations, including the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Workplace accidents
- Premises liability accidents
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Deliberate wrongdoing, such as an assault, battery, homicide, etc.
Wrongful death is a civil action where monetary damages are the only thing the court can grant you if you win your case. It cannot send the wrongdoer to prison. He or she may, however, face criminal prosecution if the alleged wrongdoing involved the commission of a crime. Keep in mind that the results of that case have no bearing on your wrongful death action. In other words, if the criminal court acquits the alleged wrongdoer, you can still bring – and win – a wrongful death action against him or her.
If you remember back to the 1990s, this is exactly what happened to OJ Simpson, a well-known former NFL player and actor. The State of California prosecuted him for the murders of his estranged wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. The jury ultimately acquitted him, but the families of the victims then filed a wrongful death action against OJ. Here the jury found OJ responsible for their deaths and awarded the families $33.5 million in damages.