The 7 Most Common Causes of Wrongful Death

By Larry Bodine, Publisher of The National Trial Lawyers.

Just over a year ago the man who killed Trayvon Martin was tried in Florida. Criminal cases are typically filed on behalf of state or federal authorities and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and in that case the killer was acquitted. In contrast, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed on behalf of the victim’s family and seeks to recover damages. A wrongful death lawsuit must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, which is easier to demonstrate. Trayvon Martin’s family sued the homeowners association where he was killed, charging it was negligent in appointing the shooter as head of the neighborhood watch. They settled the case in excess of $1 million.

Compensating the Families of the Departed

Wrongful death lawsuits seek to compensate the families of those killed by the negligent, reckless, or willful acts of others. Surviving spouses, parents, and children can file wrongful death lawsuits against any person or entity alleged to have caused the death of their loved one. Some states allow extended family, such as grandparents, the right to sue as well. Causes of wrongful death can run the gamut from auto accidents to choking on ID bracelets, but there are some common categories and patterns that emerge in these lawsuits.

Regardless of the cause, a wrongful death lawsuit should be expertly handled to avoid causing additional pain to the surviving family. While no amount of money can ever truly compensate for the loss of a loved one, wrongful death lawsuits do provide a sense of closure that many surviving loved ones find helpful for the recovery process.

Larry Bodine is a lawyer and journalist who speaks and writes frequently on personal injury law. He is the Editor of Law Practice Advisor and Publisher of the National Trial Lawyers and is the former Editor in Chief of Readers can follow @Larrybodine on Twitter, on Google+ and on LinkedIn, where he moderates several law-related groups.