In July of 2006, a truck driver for Pacific Gas and Electric blacked out while driving, due to low blood sugar triggered by a faulty insulin injector. As the driver fell unconscious, his truck crashed into several cars on Interstate 280 in San Jose, California. The crash killed two college students, after which the family members sued PG&E in what’s known as a wrongful death claim.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit claiming that a person has died due to negligence or improper conduct, caused by the company or person being sued. The survivors of the victims may be legally entitled to financial compensation as a result of the conduct leading to the death.
Who Can Bring a Claim?
Laws regarding who can bring forth a lawsuit vary depending on the state where the victim and family resides. Some states allow wrongful death claims to be filed by the dependents of victims, when the death causes financial injury to the dependents and a loss in support and care. The majority of wrongful death lawsuits involve negligence from such situations as:
- Having an accident while driving
- Medical malpractice
- Being involved in a work accident
- Faulty products that cause harm or injury
Wrongful death claims cannot be brought forth by family members; in other words, one family member cannot sue another family member for wrongful death. However, claims can be filed against a large amount of people, including:
- The driver that was found “at fault” in the accident
- The doctor who caused harm to the patient
- The employer who was negligent—causing harm to the employee
- The manufacturer of the faulty product
Who is Liable in a Wrongful Death Claim?
When a claim is brought forth, defendants may include various people who were involved— in some capacity—in the event that caused death for the victim. For instance, in the PG&E crash, the wrongful death claim could have included multiple defendants:
- The driver responsible for causing the crash
- The truck manufacturer (if the accident was caused by vehicle design flaws)
- Any truck mechanics who worked on the truck prior to the accident
Wrongful death lawsuits have a time limit to be filed, which varies depending on the state. The time limit is called “the statute of limitations,” and if the claim is not filed within the given time period, there will be no possibility of filing it in the future.
Ty Wilson is an Savannah Wrongful Death lawyer. Call him in Savannah 912-508-4711 or Atlanta 770-948-5454 if you have lost a family member due to someone else’s negligence.