Every wrongful death case is painful to loved ones left behind, with each death being one too many. This post shares four of the most common ways in which they happen—but is not a comprehensive list of what can happen through someone else’s negligence.
If you need to talk to a wrongful death attorney, then we invite you to contact us online. During COVID-19, our law firm is offering virtual conferences with new clients for everyone’s safety.
The National Safety Council (NSC) has been monitoring traffic fatality estimates since 1921—and they report that approximately 38,800 people lost their lives in 2019 because of a car crash. The good news is that it’s a 2% decrease from 2018 but, as the NSC president and CEO notes, that’s still an unacceptable number. People who lose their lives because of a car crash leave behind loved ones who grieve and suffer because of their loss.
Although these NSC statistics don’t allow us to know all the underlying causes of all these accidents, it’s noted that 8% of them involve a distracted driver, with an additional 2% of them involving a drowsy driver. The reality is that just running a red light can be the cause. In 2017, this accounted for nearly 900 deaths.
Everyone is familiar with the dangers of drinking and driving. Between 2003 and 2011, more than 119,000 fatalities occurred because of drunk drivers. And, unfortunately, the state with the third-most incidents in that time frame was Florida, with 8,476 deaths.
Another common type of wrongful death is closely related to car accidents, involving trucks. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 37,133 fatalities in 2017 alone, a result of 34,247 crashes. When looking just at large trucks and buses, fatal accidents increased by 8% from 2016 to 2017, with these types of vehicles accounting for 13% of the truck-related fatalities.
These accidents are not spread equally across the United States. In fact, just ten states account for more than half of large truck or bus fatalities—and Florida is one of those states.
Factors in these fatal crashes include:
- Occupants in large trucks not wearing a seatbelt (at least 39%)
- Speeding (17%)
- Driving through work zones (27%)
- Driver distraction (6%; of that, 16% was connected to cell phone use)
Yet another common cause of wrongful deaths is vehicle-related; in this case, motorcycle accidents.
The unfortunate reality is that about 80% of reported motorcycle crashes lead to injuries and, in many cases, death. Cars and trucks, with the exception of convertibles with the tops down, provide protection against head injuries to drivers and passengers; motorcycles do not, with riders having helmet protection at best. And, if a motorcycle suddenly stops, the rider may well be tossed from the vehicle.
Not surprisingly, the Insurance Information Institute shares how 5,172 motorcyclists died in a crash in 2017 alone. On the one hand, that figure is 3% less than the previous year—and, in sheer numbers, there are fewer motorcyclists involved in fatal accidents than in either car or truck accidents. That said, motorcyclists were 27 times more likely to die in a crash, when compared to someone in a car, when looking at the vehicle miles traveled.
And, when breaking this down by state, Florida shows the most motorcycle fatalities in both years being reported (2016 and 2017).
As these three causes—car, truck, and motorcycle accidents—show, vehicle fatalities are among the most common causes of wrongful death. But, they aren’t the only causes.
A 2016 study by John Hopkins indicates that medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer. This study suggests that this accounts for more than 250,000 each year. Other studies show significantly higher numbers, as much as 440,000.
Medical malpractice can include:
- Failure to diagnose: in these cases, the appropriate cause of the illness was not found
- Improper treatment: this means that the treatment provided was not appropriate for the problem
- Failure to warn of known risks: if a patient is not informed of potential risks of a treatment, then he or she could not have given informed consent
The scope of medical malpractice goes beyond doctors, including nurses, physician’s assistants, and much more. And, closely related to malpractice is nursing home abuse and any deaths resulting from neglect to abuse.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Losing a loved one under any circumstance is emotionally painful. When someone else’s negligence is a factor, the situation can be downright devastating.
When someone dies because of another person’s intentional, negligent, or reckless conduct, certain family members can file a wrongful death claim. In Florida, these include the deceased person’s spouse, parents, or children—or an adoptive sibling or blood relative who was at least in part dependent upon the person who died for support or other services.
Circumstances that can often qualify for such a claim include the four situations described in this post, but can also include boat accidents, work-related accidents, and more. When damages are awarded, the amount would depend upon numerous factors, including the situation that occurred, the relationship the survivor had with the deceased loved one, lost companionship, emotional trauma, loss of support, and punitive damage.
Specifics can vary widely. To help, we’ve provided this wrongful death resource page. We also encourage you to reach out to an experienced attorney. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida is two years from the date of death. So, to find out the rights that survivors have and to discuss if you have a case, we encourage you to contact us online.
You can also call our wrongful death attorneys at 904-251-1111 or toll-free at 1-800-251-1111. You can schedule a no-obligation consultation at no cost to you. Note that, during COVID-19, these are remote consultations for your health and safety.