Nothing in life is more painful than the loss of a child. When such a tragedy is caused by an accident that could have been prevented, survivors’ grief is often combined with anger and a need for justice. Medical bills and legal complications at a time when they should be left alone to mourn may also overwhelm families.
Although seeking legal recourse may not seem like a priority after such a tragedy it is imperative that you consult with a child death attorney sooner than later. Attorney Jeffrey Killino is a well-respected child advocate and is committed to handling your family’s case with compassion and respect. Killino has worked with bereaved parents and families in a wide variety of unintentional injuries resulting in death of a child. Contact our offices at 877-875-2927 to learn more about the services we offer.
Injuries are a major source of childhood emergency department and hospital admissions. The most recent accident statistics from the National Safety Council and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control report that:
- Injury is the leading cause of death in children and young adults. Approximately 12,000 children and young adults, ages 1 to 19 years, die from unintentional injuries each year.
- Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injury for children. Children ages 19 and under account for about 8,000 fall-related visits to hospital emergency rooms every day.
- Each year about 100 children are killed and 254,000 are injured as a result of bicycle accidents
- Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4. The majority of drownings and near-drownings occur in residential swimming pools and in open water sites. However, children can drown in as little as one inch of water.
- Airway obstruction injury (suffocation) is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among infants under age one.
- Each year, about 2,000 children ages 14 and under die as a result of a home injury. Unintentional home injury deaths to children are caused primarily by fire and burns, suffocation, drowning, firearms, falls, choking, and poisoning.
Other serious injuries include:
- Car Accidents
- Defective Products such as sleepers, cribs, car seats, toys, baby formula
- Day Care and/or Caregiver Negligence
- Dog Bites
Why File a Child Wrongful Death Suit?
When your family is struggling with the pain of losing a precious child, civil action may seem like nothing more than an additional burden. But many families choose to file claims following the preventable death of a child for several reasons:
- Medical and funeral expenses can overwhelm a family, especially if they were unexpected. You should not have to struggle to meet these costs when it was another person’s negligence that necessitated them.
- Bringing negligence to light can prevent future accidents. Whether your child was injured by an individual or several entities, a manufacturer or corporation, calling the public’s attention to the situation can make the world a little safer for everyone.
- Negligent parties may be forced to pay punitive damages, which are punishing damages assessed against a defendant in addition to those intended to compensate for actual losses. Though these damages can never compensate a family for the loss of a child, they are often the best way to bring some justice against reckless parties. And some piece of mind for you and your loved ones.
The Law of Wrongful Death
Though the law governing wrongful death lawsuits varies from state to state, a wrongful-death suit is generally described as an action brought by the survivors of a decedent to recover damages suffered by the survivors as a result of someone’s negligence, intentional act, or a defective product. A wrongful death action may be allowed, therefore, if someone has been murdered, suffered fatal injuries due to medical malpractice or other negligent actions or inactions of another, or suffered fatal injuries due to a defective product, regardless of negligence on the part of those responsible under product-liability law.
Wrongful Death and Survival Actions
Wrongful-death and survival actions are often confusing because they are very different claims.
A wrongful-death action is brought by the survivors of the decedent to recover damages suffered by the decedent’s survivors as a result of the decedent’s death. The damages in such actions go directly to the survivor-plaintiffs rather than to the decedent’s estate.
Compensatory damages may include medical and funeral expenses paid by the survivors, pain and suffering endured by the survivors as a result of the death, and the financial support the survivors would have received from the decedent had he or she survived. Some states may also allow punitive (or punishing) damages if, for example, the death was intentionally caused.
A survival action is an action brought by the decedent’s survivors on the decedent’s behalf. A plaintiff may have survived for a period of time following an accident or other injury-causing event and may have already instituted a personal-injury action. If the plaintiff dies before the action has been completed, the suit may be transformed into a survival action, so that the personal-injury action begun by the decedent will be taken over by the decedent’s estate.
The damages recovered in such actions will go directly to the decedent’s estate, rather than to the decedent’s survivors, and will be distributed according to the laws of intestate succession or the decedent’s will.
Plaintiffs in Wrongful-death Suits
Most states have Wrongful Death Statutes that govern the particulars of that state’s wrongful-death law. Since a wrongful-death action seeks to recover damages suffered by the decedent’s survivors, most Wrongful Death Statutes allow only close relatives to file such actions.
All states allow immediate family members to recover damages for the wrongful death of a child. Thus, parents of minor children and, in some states, siblings and grandparents of children, may sue for the child’s wrongful death.
Defendants in Wrongful-death Suits
Wrongful-death suits may be filed in most states against any individual or entity whose actions or inactions were a negligent or intentional cause of the death. They may also be filed against manufacturers of defective products, as well as others in the product’s chain of distribution, if the product’s defect was a cause of the decedent’s death.
In some states, immunity from wrongful-death suits is granted to governmental entities and their employees, though many states have relinquished this sovereign-immunity right in exchange for a limit on the amount of damages that may be obtained.
Statute of Limitations
If you want to seek legal help to recover compensation for the loss of a loved one, be aware of the Statute of Limitations. It is different in many states and may even be different depending on the type of action or defendant, so surviving family members should act immediately.
At this difficult time, your family deserves an experienced attorney who can support and guide you as a reliable partner. Childhood wrongful-death attorney Jeffrey Killino can go over your case and help you decide if filing a claim is the right choice for you and your family. For expert and compassionate assistance, contact attorney Killino today, at 877-875-2927.