Our civil justice system in the U.S. recognizes this. Outside of criminal charges, the only way the law deals with a death that should not have happened is by allowing the surviving family to make a claim for “wrongful death.”
We cannot undo the tragedy. The only thing we can do is to provide the remaining family with monetary compensation through a wrongful death claim.
What is a wrongful death?
A “wrongful death” is an unnatural death, resulting from an injury or incident, caused by the bad conduct of another person, or a company.
It does not mean that there was necessarily any intent to kill the victim. Wrongful death may be the result of:
- A car or truck crash;*
- Nursing home neglect or abuse;
- Medical negligence or misdiagnosis;
- Construction site injury;
- Government liability; or
- A failed product or piece of equipment.
* Most “car accidents” aren’t accidents: they are predictable result of bad driving decisions, poor road design, or unsafe vehicles. 35,000 people died on U.S. roads and highways last year. It is time to change the way we think—and speak—about driving … see We say “crash” instead of “accident”.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
Generally, a wrongful death claim is filed by the next-of-kin, or closest family member to the deceased.
This may be a spouse, parent, child, or sibling; it is usually the same person who would open an Estate on behalf of the family.
Claims for a death can be complicated, requiring investigations and expert witnesses. You will need an experienced, compassionate attorney to get through the process, and make it as painless as possible.
Who pays for a wrongful death claim?
The person or company that caused the injury that led to death is responsible for compensating the family for the loss. There are likely insurance for covering a claim that need to be considered and reviewed.
In the midst of your grief, you must find a way to hold the negligent parties responsible. There is a statute of limitations, or a limited amount of time to file a claim, so it’s best to talk to a lawyer about your options.
Talk to an experienced wrongful death attorney.
Kevin Coluccio has helped surviving families for nearly three decades. He is compassionate and devoted to his clients. If you are considering a wrongful death claim, set up a free consultation with Coluccio Law to learn about your options.
Wrongful death case results by Kevin Coluccio
Estates of “S.” v. Trucking Company/Truck manufacturer
Two young children were killed on their way to school one morning. The car they were riding in ran into the back of a recycling truck that had stopped on a rural road for bottles and newspaper left out for pick-up.
The car was driven into the truck, and under the back end.
Attorney Kevin Coluccio and expert witnesses found that the truck driver should have pulled off the roadway, and onto the wide shoulder.
This would have resulted in the truck driver having to carry the items for pick-up a short distance – but it would have allowed for safe passage of the car. They also found that the manufacturer of the truck had failed to install required under-ride protection.
The truck driver was not properly trained. After the case was settled, the trucking company asked for permission to consult with Coluccio’s expert about safety issues and training.
After the case was over, the surviving father of the children set up a school for underprivileged kids in Mexico.
“S.” v. Rockeries, Inc
$2,940,000 result, plus fees and costs
A 46-year-old was driving home after going to a local store to pick up supplies for a weekend dinner with her husband. As she passed through an intersection, a dump truck trailer smashed into her car, causing fatal injuries.
The trailer was loaded with rockery boulders and broke free from the dump truck because of the driver’s failure to properly latch the trailer. When the truck got to the top of a hill, the trailer broke free, traveled down a road and crashed into the woman’s car. The safety braking system failed to lock the brakes on the trailer because it had not been properly maintained.
The woman’s husband came home after work to find a note from a police officer on his front door. After learning of the tragedy, he was able to get to the hospital to say goodbye to his wife prior to her death.
After a claim was filed, the trucking company denied insurance coverage and filed for dismissal with the court. The court granted the dismissal, which was appealed. After a lengthy appeal process, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the surviving husband.
Attorney Kevin Coluccio earned the family the insurance policy limits, as well as fees and costs, providing the maximum recovery possible.
Estate of “Jane Doe” v. State of Washington
After returning from a flight, a long-time fight attendant went for a run in the wooded park area near her home. When she did not return, her family went looking for her and eventually called the police.
Tragically, she had been killed by a released level 3 sex offender who was on parole and supposed to have been carefully monitored by Washington’s Department of Corrections.
After the killing, the offender left the area and traveled across the country. While at a rest stop, he attacked another woman and left her for dead.
The woman’s life was saved by a passing nurse who found her at the rest stop.
Attorney Kevin Coluccio worked extensively get to the facts of the offender’s parole. Both attacks were preventable. The offender had been violating his parole for a long time. Action should have been taken to protect the public and, in particular, these clients from him.
The attorneys were able to show that the Department of Corrections was negligent in the supervision of this dangerous parolee.
When the offender was stopped at a roadblock after the second attack, he shot and killed himself to avoid facing the penalties for his crimes.
In addition to the $4.4 million wrongful death result, the second woman’s claim was also settled by Kevin Coluccio for $4.4 million.