Is Wrongful Death A Personal Injury?
To answer this simply, yes, wrongful death constitutes a personal injury. If a loved one or family member has died and you believe that their death was the result of another party’s negligent behavior, then you may bring a personal injury case claiming wrongful death as the injury.
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Is wrongful death a personal injury claim?
Because wrongful death is a type of personal injury, you may file a personal injury claim regarding a wrongful death case. If a person dies as a result of someone else’s intentional conduct or carelessness, a family member or the administrator of that person’s estate is entitled to file a personal injury claim of wrongful death on the decedent’s behalf. Similar to other personal injury claims, a wrongful death case seeks financial compensation from the defendant regarding their liability.
Similarities between personal injury and wrongful death claims
The main similarity between a personal injury lawsuit and a wrongful death lawsuit is that both types of lawsuits fall under tort law and result from the negligent behavior of the defendant. To prove a defendant was negligent, the plaintiff must be able to demonstrate the elements of negligence, which are:
- There was a duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff
- The duty owed was breached
- The plaintiff suffered an injury or death
- The plaintiff’s injury or death was the result of the defendant’s breach of duty
By proving all four elements of negligence, the plaintiff in a personal injury claim or a wrongful death claim will likely be successful in proving that the defendant was responsible for the injury or death at issue and should be held liable for the appropriate monetary compensation.
Differences between personal injury and wrongful death claims
Claims for personal injury and wrongful death have many similarities, and both are based on negligence, but there are certain factors that do set them apart.
The most obvious difference between personal injury cases and wrongful death cases is that wrongful death cases result in the death of a party as opposed to merely an injury of the party, as is the case for a personal injury claim.
Another main difference between personal injury and wrongful death claims is that a plaintiff can bring the claims on their own in a personal injury case, whereas a wrongful death claim needs to be brought by a family member or representative on behalf of the decedent.
When a wrongful death claim applies
There are a number of situations in which a wrongful death claim may apply, including the following:
- When an individual is intentionally killed or dies as the result of other criminal acts
- Cases involving medical malpractice
- Car accidents resulting in fatalities as a result of negligence
- Defective products, which can include medications and medical devices
- Work-related and construction accidents
- Watercraft accidents
- Premises liability cases such as slip and fall and aircraft accidents
Each of these situations consists of its own wrongful death statute, meaning each incident comes with a different procedure for bringing the wrongful death action as well as its own criteria for the incident constituting a wrongful death. A personal injury and wrongful death attorney will be able to explain how your state handles the filing of wrongful death claims and how you could best approach the situation.
Who can sue for a personal injury?
A personal injury claim may be brought by anyone who has suffered an injury due to the responsible party’s negligence. Unlike a wrongful death suit in which the plaintiff is pressing charges over the injured person’s death, the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit only needs to have been injured to some extent.
Who can sue for wrongful death?
While states may vary in who is permitted to bring this type of claim, a wrongful death case may be brought by the decedent’s survivors or whoever is in charge of handling and representing the decedent’s estate. The following list details common plaintiffs in a wrongful death case:
- Immediate family members
- Distant relatives
- Life partners
- Putative spouses
- Parents of a deceased fetus
- Financial dependents
Essentially, anyone with a close familial, financial, or personal tie to the deceased person may file a wrongful death action against the responsible parties.
A wrongful death lawyer from Bachus & Schanker can help guide you in your case
The wrongful death attorneys at Bachus & Schanker have extensive experience fighting for clients’ rights in wrongful death and personal injury claims, making them a great choice to represent you in your claims. The Bachus & Schanker attorneys understand the emotional turmoil that comes along with a wrongful death claim and will be sure to provide you with respect and guidance throughout this stressful and challenging process.
Goguen, D. (2023). Wrongful Death Claims: An Overview.
Written and Legally Reviewed By: Kyle Bachus
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Kyle is a member of the Colorado and Florida Bar associations and has served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association for more than twenty years in total. Over the years, Kyle has achieved justice for many clients. He has served on numerous committees and repeatedly won recognition from his peers at both the state and national level. He is proud of the role he has played in the passage of state and national legislation to protect consumers and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer.