According to stats provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than 120,000 individuals die as a result of unintentional injury accidents a year. The most common type of such accidents are motor vehicle collisions (+33,000), poisoning (+33,000) and slip and fall incidents (+26,000).
You must be thinking, “What a business has to do with all such accidental deaths?”
Well, if you run a small business with a regular flow of customers, your business may receive wrongful death lawsuit as a result of an accident as discussed above. The threat of a lawsuit is very real thing for almost every business and you may be surprised to know that over 100 million such cases are filed in the US state courts every year, and wrongful death lawsuits are not very unusual.
Back in 2013, a cab met an accident in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, killing the six-year-old Sofia Liu. The matter caught fire when the driver told police at the scene he was working for Uber. Though, Uber claimed that he was not providing services on the Uber system during the time of the accident, but Uber still faced a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Liu family.
Many other big names have faced wrongful death lawsuits over time, and some have even paid in millions to settle the issue.
A business can be sued if someone dies due to negligence or misconduct of your business. The family members of the deceased may sue the business whether the act was accidental or intentional and the claim is intended to compensate these individuals for financial losses they have sustained due to the death.
This article will discuss 3 important things about wrongful death lawsuits every business owner should know. However, you must get in touch with an expert to find details about wrongful death lawsuits to avoid the mismanagement in the future.
1- Is My Business at Risk of Getting a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
As a fact of the matter, any business can be sued if someone dies due to negligence or misconduct of your business, for instance when a victim dies as a result of medical malpractice/medicine overdose, car accident fatalities involving negligence, accidents due to negligence in providing a safe area for visitors, defective products, insufficient safety information on the product labels and so on.
Well, these are just a few examples of cases that can turn into wrongful death claims, and there can be various complicated situations. In a nutshell, any business that falls anywhere in the supply chain is prone to a wrongful death lawsuit.
2- Who Can Sue and What they May Seek?
Anyone from the family members of the deceased can file the lawsuit; but a person is eligible for damages only if he or she is a close relation, typically, the deceased person’s spouse and children. In some states, stepchildren, domestic partners, and parents of the deceased person can also file the lawsuit.
Plaintiffs may seek damages for medical expenses (incurred on the deceased person’s behalf prior to death, funeral and burial expenses, loss of support/inheritance/services the decedent provided and or pain the survivors are going through. Wrongful death claims must be filed within a specified time period after the death.
3- What Should I Do?
Generally, a wrongful death claim stems from almost any kind of personal injury situation. So, as a business owner, you must ensure having a well thought worker’s compensation system in place, and be in contact with a competent law professional for instant help whenever needed.
The Bottom Line:
A wrongful death suit may be filed against a business anytime a person dies due to an accidental or intentional act committed by one of the employees or anyone else for whom the business is directly or indirectly liable. However, all wrongful death lawsuits are not on merit and sometimes, competitors may take advantage of an accident to smear the brand reputation. Being prepared for potential legal disputes and having an expert in contact is the only way to deal all such situations in professional manner.