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Who Can Be Sued for Wrongful Death?

This content about wrongful death was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.

What is a wrongful death case?

A wrongful death case is a civil action brought by the surviving family members of a person who passed away due to the negligent actions of another. These negligent actions are the basis of the case. These actions seek to compensate the surviving family members, not the decedent. 

When handling cases like these, courts take into account the pain and suffering of the family, as well as other damages like loss of companionship, benefits, and financial hardships that may arise from the death of the victim.

Who May Be Sued for a Wrongful Death?

Almost anyone can be sued for wrongful death, except for people, companies, and organizations that have immunity thanks to their position within governmental agencies. These rules vary from state to state and should be carefully researched before the case is filed.

Aside from these exceptions, any other person or company can be sued for wrongful death. These are a few examples of cases from Enjuris of who could be sued for wrongful death:

  • A doctor who performed a faulty operation and hospital that employs him;
  • A driver who ran over your family member and company that employs him;
  • A driver on the freeway who hit your family member;
  • The designer of a product that failed to provide adequate warnings;
  • A company that made the dangerous product that exploded in your grandfather’s face, as well as everyone along the chain of distribution.

In these particular cases, the representative of the family has to prove to the court the same elements of negligence the decent would have presented if they were alive. This was best described in the previously mentioned Enjuris blog as “the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, the duty was breached, this breach was a direct and proximate cause of the death, and this breach caused damages.”

In a Nolo blog, they put the example of a wrongful death based in a car accident involving a faulty roadway and a drunk driver, and break down de possible defendants into:

  • The driver or employer at-fault in the automobile accident
  • The designer or builder of the faulty roadway
  • A government agent who failed to provide adequate warnings regarding a road hazard that caused the accident
  • The manufacturer, distributor, or installer of a defective or dangerous part of the vehicle
  • The persons who sold, served, or gave alcohol to the impaired driver, or
  • The owner of the premises where the alcohol was served.

Immunity for Government Agencies and Employees

There are cases when some persons or agencies may have protection from a wrongful death lawsuit, meaning they can’t be sued with charges of wrongful death. The people, companies, or agencies that are entitled immunity from these cases vary from state to state.

For example, in some situations, government agencies and employees might be immune from a wrongful death lawsuit, or even family members in certain circumstances.

Sources:

Nolo, Enjuris (1),  Enjuris (2) 

Haddad & Sherwin LLP has a long, successful track record winning wrongful death and other serious civil rights claims for police and jail officer misconduct, throughout Northern and Central California.  Call or email us for a free consultation.

This content about wrongful death was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.