A wrongful death claim can be filed when somebody dies as a result of someone else's negligent or intentional behavior. This type of lawsuit will usually be filed by the immediate family of the deceased person. Wrongful death does fall under the umbrella of personal injury, so you would need to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer in Knoxville to guide you through this type of lawsuit.

Examples of Potential Wrongful Death Claims

For a wrongful death lawsuit to be filed, the deceased party must have passed away during a situation that might otherwise have resulted in a personal injury lawsuit had they survived. This could cover several different situations, including the following examples:

1 - When a Victim is Intentionally Killed

Wrongful death is not always accidental. In the event of a murder, the victim's family can file a civil wrongful death lawsuit separate from the criminal case against the murderer. One of the most famous examples of this would be the civil suit raised against O.J. Simpson by the families of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman.

2 - Fatal Car Accidents

If the victim dies due to injuries sustained in a car accident that was someone else's fault, then the family could have grounds to file for a wrongful death claim.

3 - Death as a Result of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is another type of personal injury, where someone is injured due to a mistake or lack of care from a medical professional. If such an error results in the patient's death, it might be appropriate to file a wrongful death lawsuit. An example of this would be a doctor failing to diagnose a medical condition that would not have resulted in death had it been appropriately treated.

These are just a few examples of what might be considered a viable wrongful death claim. If you feel you have a case, then talk with a personal injury lawyer in Knoxville for advice on how best to proceed. One key exception is death in the workplace, as these will almost always be handled through worker's compensation.

Proving a Wrongful Death

If a wrongful death claim is being pursued, then the plaintiff must meet a similar burden of proof as they would in a personal injury lawsuit had the individual survived. A qualified personal injury lawyer in Knoxville will be able to outline exactly what type of proof is required. In general terms, you would first need to prove that the defendant has a duty of care that was broken, resulting in the victim's death. Duty of Care is challenging to define, and it will vary from one case to the next, but as an example, in the event of a fatal car accident, it can be argued that the driver at fault had a duty of care to other road users including the victim to drive with reasonable care. In which case, if they were driving negligently, they would have failed to meet that duty of care. It is down to the judge to determine whether the defendant owed a duty of care.

Aside from proving the duty of care and breach of it, a personal injury lawyer in Knoxville also needs to prove causation. That means proving that the breach of duty of care actually caused the death. Returning to our fatal car accident example, this could mean proving it was the defendant's car that struck the victim and not another vehicle.


Butler, Vines and Babb is a leading law firm in Knoxville, TN, with extensive litigation experience in Medical Malpractice LawBirth Injury LawTrucking Accident LawPersonal Injury Law, and Business Law. Contact us today at www.bvblaw.com or call 865-637-3531.

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