When someone is injured in an accident due to another party's negligence, they can usually file a personal injury claim and recover their injuries. When the victim of another person's negligence dies, however, the situation suddenly becomes much more complicated. The victim's loved ones may have to file a wrongful death claim instead.

What are some of the most common reasons for a wrongful death claim?

1. Traffic Accidents

For the last several years, traffic accidents have claimed the lives of more than 40,000 pedestrians and other drivers alike each year, making that one of the top causes of wrongful death claims. Many fatal roadway accidents are due to things like:

  • Drowsy driving
  • Drunk driving
  • Drugged driving
  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Wrong-way accidents

It's important to keep in mind that you can still pursue a claim for wrongful death even if the guilty party who caused the wreck also died in the accident. His or her insurance company still has an obligation to pay for accidents caused before his or her death. In some cases, it may also be possible to pursue a claim against the guilty party's estate or employer.

2. Medical Accidents and Negligence

Medical accidents cause between 65,000 and 200,000 deaths every year, and medical negligence is behind another 25,000 to 120,000 lost lives. Combined, medical mistakes of one form or another are behind more deaths in the United States than any other type of accident.

Medical-related deaths can be caused by things like:

  • Pharmaceutical errors
  • Surgical mistakes
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Missed diagnoses
  • Hospital-acquired infections
  • Delayed diagnoses
  • Mistaken diagnoses 

Many times, the relatives of someone who dies due to medical errors have no idea what really caused their loved one's death. It's estimated that four incidents of medical mistakes go unreported for every one mistake that's recorded. It often takes a careful investigation to know whether or not someone's death could have been averted.

3. Workplace Fatalities

As of 2017, the last year for which figures are available, almost 5,200 American employees died due to workplace injuries — most of which were preventable. The most common causes of workplace deaths include:

  • Transportation-related accidents, especially among delivery drivers, sales workers, and truck drivers
  • Slips, trips, and falls on the job, especially among roofers and construction workers
  • Contact from tools, equipment, and other objects, particularly among warehouse workers and construction teams
  • Exposure to environmental toxins, especially in industrial fields where the use of toxic substances or chemicals is common

Employers are often reluctant to admit responsibility for not enforcing safety codes or not giving workers appropriate safety training.

If you suspect that your loved one's death was due to someone else's mistake and that tragedy could have been averted with proper caution, talk to a wrongful death lawyer about your claim.