Few things are as heartbreaking as the death of a child. These tragedies are made even more grievous when they are the result of someone else’s misdoings. Such incidents are all the more shocking because they were preventable. In most states, the term “wrongful death” refers to any death that has occurred as a result of an individual’s negligence or otherwise wrongful acts. However, the term “wrongful death” can also apply in cases where harm was inflicted deliberately (e.g. sexual assault or police misconduct).
Nothing can ever replace the loss of someone you loved—especially if you are a parent who has just lost your child. Fortunately, there are resources available that can help families cope. We know that no amount of money can ever compensate for the loss you have suffered. Still, filing a wrongful death claim may be able to help you take the steps you need to recover.
Many people believe that wrongful death claims are criminal lawsuits. In reality, however, they are civil lawsuits. In other words, wrongful death claims will not be automatically brought on by the state with criminal penalties (e.g. prison or probation). Because of this, they must be brought forth to the court either by the survivors of the deceased or by the representative of the deceased person’s estate. Naturally, in cases of the wrongful death of a child, this tends to be the parent and/or guardian.
As wrongful death claims are civil rather than criminal lawsuits, plaintiffs may only seek out money damages. This means that they cannot seek out criminal charges to be placed on the defendant(s). Once the claim has been filed, the plaintiff must prove that the following factors were involved in the case at hand: (1) duty of care, (2) breach of duty of care, and (3) causation.
In layman’s terms, this simply means that the plaintiff (the individual filing the claim) must prove that the defendant (the individual being accused) acted negligently and/or recklessly, and that it was these negligent and/or reckless actions that caused to the deceased’s death. It is up to the defendant to prove that all three factors apply to their case.
The laws surrounding wrongful death claims vary from state to state. If you are thinking about filing, you will want to make sure to do so before your statute of limitations runs out. Failing to do so may bar you from recovering any damages for the foreseeable future. You may be able to receive compensation for any of the following:
If your case is particularly egregious, you may even be able to receive punitive damages. Such damages are not meant to compensate you for your loss but to further punish the defendant. Punitive damages usually apply in the most severe cases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional injuries are the number-one cause of death for individuals between the ages of 1 and 24. This may come as a shock to some. Most of these accidents, however, are preventable. The most common types of unintentional injuries that lead to child death include the following:
Out of all of the above, vehicular accidents are the number one leading cause of child wrongful death. This includes cases where the child is either a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or a passenger. Many child wrongful deaths are also caused by faulty products. Hoverboards, dangerous playground equipment, and toys with lead are common causes of this. However, tires, airbags, and tipping shelves may also lead to tragedy.
It is also possible for medical malpractice to lead the wrongful death of a child. Shockingly, statistics suggest that nearly 2% of infant deaths are related to medical malpractice or the misuse of instruments. The risk of being subject to medical malpractice also grows as a child gets older, as it is possible that they may be misdiagnosed or given the wrong medication, amongst other potential risks.
First, it is important to note the unfortunate truth: you can do everything right and still have something go wrong. This also applies in cases of child wrongful death—particularly because wrongful death itself is something that happens inherently as a result of someone else’s actions.
Luckily, as mentioned earlier, there is much you can do to lessen the risk of your child being hurt. Make sure your child knows the importance of safety in all contexts. Focus on road safety while you are behind the wheel or crossing the street, and stress the importance of using seatbelts and bicycle helmets. Children choose their parents as their number one role models, so it is important that you practice what you preach and be a good example.
It is also important to warn your children about the risks inherent in dealing with any unfamiliar dogs, as child deaths caused by dog bite attacks are not uncommon. Furthermore, you should be aware of the signs of a concussion. If your child ever suffers a concussion, knowing what to do will increase their risks of improvement considerably. In a similar vein, keep a close watch on your child when they are playing on the field, in the swimming pool, or any other high-risk area.
Finally, do your due diligence when it comes to the products your children use. Monitor any and all relevant recall notices and follow suit if anything in your child’s reach has been recalled. You may also want to consider doing your research to avoid any manufacturers who have a history of dangerous products.
Losing a child is a tragedy that no parent should ever have to suffer. Unfortunately, for many, it is a reality of life. At Injury Victim Law, we know that nothing can replace the loss of a loved one. However, we may be able to help you take the steps to begin to financially recover. As a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. If you have recently lost a loved one, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced nationwide wrongful death attorneys. Let us fight for you and the peace of mind you deserve.