Losing a loved one in a sudden accident is a tragic experience that can lead to immense depression and guilt. If the death was caused by a defective product, it’s only natural to want justice. Even if the incident does not lead to criminal charges, you may still be able to recover compensation by bringing a wrongful death claim against the product manufacturer, designer, and/or another liable party.
Below we’ve answers some frequently asked questions about defective product wrongful death claims:
1. Who Can My Family Sue for Wrongful Death Caused by a Defective Product?
Your product liability lawyer will have to perform a thorough investigation to determine how the defect most likely arose. There are many parties who could be liable for an injury or death caused by a dangerously defective good. The most common defendants in these cases are as follows:
- The Product Designer: To win damages from the product designer, you will have to prove either that the risks inherent in the design outweighed the advantages of the design; or that the design made the product dangerous when used in a manner that is reasonably foreseeable. When evaluating whether the risks of the design outweighed the benefits, your attorney will consider the extent of the harm that the product could cause, the likelihood that the product would cause injury or death, whether there was a less hazardous design that was feasible, the cost of the alternative design, and the disadvantages of the alternative design.
- The Product Manufacturer: Did the product that caused the death have a defect that deviated from the specifications of the manufacturer? Was there an issue that didn’t affect other goods in the product line? Your attorney will try to answer these questions to determine whether the manufacturer might be liable. If you intend to pursue damages from the manufacturer, you will have to prove that the defendant did in fact manufacture the product and the defect existed when the product left the manufacturer’s possession. In some scenarios, a product manufacturer can be held liable for an injury or death caused by inadequate labeling.
- Other Parties: At the end of the day, any party that contributed to the development or distribution of a defective good may be liable for damages resulting from an injury or death caused by the good. Besides the product designer or manufacturer, these claims may be brought against a quality control specialist, engineer, design consultant, or retailer.
2. What Does “Strict Liability” Mean?
Strict liability is a standard for imposing liability for which intent or negligence is not a precondition. In other words, if strict liability applies to a wrongful death case, it would not be necessary to prove that the defendant was negligent or caused intentional harm in order to hold them liable for the resulting damages. Strict liability often applies to product defect cases.
3. What Is a “Survival Action?”
A survival action is a type of legal action that can be brought after a wrongful death if the deceased did not die immediately as a result of the fatal accident. Often, the survival action and wrongful death claim are brought to court together; however, it is important to distinguish between the two because if your family is able to bring a survival action, it could have a significant impact on the potential value of your case.
Only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate or the deceased’s successor in interest can bring the survival action. While a wrongful death claim is brought to collect damages incurred by the deceased’s surviving family members, a survival action is brought to pursue damages incurred by the deceased between the fatal accident and his or her death. Below, we explain the kinds of damages that may be recoverable in a wrongful death claim and survival action.
4. What Damages Might Be Available in a Wrongful Death Case?
As previously mentioned, a wrongful death claim seeks compensation for damages incurred by surviving family members of the deceased. Such damages may include:
- Loss of financial contributions;
- Loss of gifts or benefits;
- Funeral home and burial costs;
- Loss of services provided by the deceased; and
- Loss of care, training, protection, assistance, love, and advice.
The life expectancy of the deceased at the time of death can influence the settlement calculations.
In a survival action, the following damages may be recoverable:
- Emergency care, hospital costs, and other medical expenses that accrued as a result of the fatal injury;
- Wages the deceased lost between the fatal accident and his or her death; and
- Property damage incurred as a result of the fatal accident.
Sometimes it is also possible to obtain a punitive award by bringing a survival action. If you intend to seek punitive damages, you will have to show that the deceased’s property was damaged while he or she was still alive or that the deceased survived for a period of time after the fatal accident. Even if the deceased died instantly, it may still be possible to obtain a punitive award if the death was an intentional killing and the assailant was convicted of a felony, though this typically would not apply to a product liability case.
Discuss Your Product Liability Case with a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Long Beach
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
Attorney Michael D. Waks understands how traumatic the loss of a loved one can be. It might be impossible to focus on anything other than your grief over the subsequent weeks and months, and the emotional scar may never fully heal. Michael will treat you and your family with the utmost compassion throughout the proceedings, and he will aggressively fight for the full compensation you deserve.
Michael offers free consultations, so you won’t have to pay anything to get the advice you need to make informed decisions. Our phoneline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When you’re ready to discuss your case, call (562) 206-1939 or send us a message using our online Contact Form.
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