Wrongful Death Claims: Defendants and Immunity

When someone’s death is the legal fault of someone else, a person or entity, the way to seek legal recourse would be to file a wrongful death claim. This article will discuss who can be sued in a wrongful death claim and available immunity from wrongful death claims.

In the previous article, it was noted that a wrongful death claim is applicable when a person’s death is the legal fault of another person. Further, it was noted that such claims result from negligence or intentional acts and can be filed alongside other personal injury claims such as bodily injury, property damage, etc. The term “real parties in interest” was established to refer to survivors of the deceased who can make a wrongful death claim through a representative. However, such survivors vary from one state to another.

The question as to who is able to sue has been answered, the one that needs addressing is who can be sued in a wrongful death claim. The reality is that wrongful death lawsuits can be filed against a variety of persons and entities. Included in this wide variety of potential defendants are companies, government agencies as well as their employees. To illustrate: in a car accident that is due to a road hazard (e.g. potholes, uneven road, etc.) and a driver under the influence; a wrongful death claim may be filed with the following defendants, the:

  • driver or the employer that are at fault
  • faulty road designer or builder
  • government agency who failed to ensure the presence of adequate warnings with regards to the road hazard
  • manufacturers, distributors or installers of the faulty or dangerous vehicle part
  • persons who sold, served or gave alcohol to the impaired driver
  • owner of the premises where the alcohol was served or purchased

All the above make up potential defendants in a car accident that results in the wrongful death.

In the above list appears government agencies as potential defendants, however, it must be noted that certain persons or agencies may be the exception in a wrongful death lawsuit as potential defendants. This basically means that such government agencies and personnel are immune or cannot be sued for wrongful death. However, those who are immune vary from one state to another. For example, there are certain situations where government agencies and their employees, (or even family members) are immune from a wrongful death lawsuit. Such as in railroad collisions and some product liability cases that involve medical devices. In one case regarding generic drug makers, it was ruled that these drug makers could not be ‘held liable for the allegation that the nature of the drug was “unreasonably dangerous”, as the FDA had approved the original “name brand” drug and its labeling.’ Therefore, immunity can be based on a number of factors relating to the case or rulings on previous cases.

Knowing who to sue is extremely important in order to be made whole by receiving compensation for your loss. For legal advice and representation contact experts in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Contact the Crowson Law Group today.

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Published by
Pawneer Tripathi

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