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How Common are Wrongful Death Settlements?

By Tabatha Manuel
Updated: May 17, 2024

Wrongful death settlements are fairly common. For example, more than 90,000 wrongful deaths occur each year in the United States, and many of these result in wrongful death settlements. The most common types of incidents that result in wrongful death settlements are automobile accidents, workplace injuries, medical malpractice, hazardous environments and workplace injuries.

A wrongful death happens when an individual dies because of another person’s negligence or actions. There are many situations and circumstances that can result in wrongful death settlements. In many jurisdictions around the world, the families of wrongful death victims can sue the responsible party for compensation and damages.

Auto accidents are the primary cause for unintentional deaths in the U.S. Driving under the influence of alcohol played a major role in many wrongful death settlements. Wrongful deaths in the workplace can be caused by things such as industrial accidents, chemical exposure and slip-and-fall accidents. Many wrongful death settlements occur after these types of incidents, and many employers are covered under liability insurance policies that pay these legal claims. If a business or property owner fails to maintain the safety of his or her property, then this hazardous environment can result in a slip or fall or other accidents that can result in wrongful death settlements.

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or hospital causes the death of a patient because of professional negligence. This negligence can occur in a number of ways, such as errors in surgical procedures, misdiagnoses of medical conditions and medication errors. Studies have indicated that about 100,000 people die each year from medical malpractice in the U.S. Most states require doctors to maintain a professional liability policy to cover medical malpractice suits in case they are sued and must pay for a wrongful death settlement.

Lawyers who specialize in wrongful death lawsuits can help the families of victims be compensated for their loss. These types of cases are handled by personal injury lawyers who fight to prove the negligence of the responsible party. Wrongful death settlements can involve large or even enormous amounts of money. To win a wrongful death lawsuit, lawyers typically must show that the responsibility party failed to act in a proper way and that his or her actions resulted in the actual death of the victim.

The laws regarding wrongful death settlements can vary from place to place, but most have similar elements. People who legally can file for wrongful death lawsuits generally include parents, children and distant relatives of the victim. Many jurisdictions have a statute of limitations for filing wrongful death lawsuits that limits how many years a person can wait after the victim’s death before it becomes too late to sue the responsible party.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Sporkasia — On Jan 06, 2015

@Animandel - As you say, wrongful death settlements can be a way of punishing a person who was found innocent at a criminal trial. However, the problem is that if a person is actually innocent and not to blame then he has to go through a second trial and again face the possibility of being punished for something he is not guilty of.

By Animandel — On Jan 05, 2015

There was a popular murder case some years back. The defendant in the case was eventually found innocent by a jury, even though about everyone who followed the case knew he had committed the murders. The problem with a jury is you never know whether it will vote based on the facts or based on emotions.

Anyway, in this instance, the families of the victims sued the defendant/suspected murderer for wrongful death. They eventually won significant wrongful death awards. Sometimes these types of awards give a victim's family a second chance at some form of justice when the legal system fails the first time around.

By mobilian33 — On Jan 04, 2015

I don't have any problems with anyone who is at fault for another person's death or injury being held responsible, but I think we have gone too far in this country with lawsuits and settlements as a whole. There are so many personal injury lawsuits and personal injury lawyers trying to sue someone so they can earn money that the whole process has gotten out of hand.

In my opinion, more than 90 percent of these types of cases are just a waste of time for the court system and the people who have to take part in the trials. Lawyers should not be allowed to pursue clients in these types of cases. If a person needs a lawyer then he or she will seek one out.

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