Wrongful death: a question of negligence or consequence

A driver talking on the phone ends up causing a fatal car crash; a pedestrian slips and falls outside a shop whose owner did not put up warning signs for ongoing pavement repair; a doctor forgot to warn a patient about certain risks of a procedure which led to the patient's death. These occurrences may seem like entries from a catalog of horrors, but these are everyday cases of real negligence, which may result in the driver, shop owner or doctor facing a wrongful death lawsuit.

In most states, including Montana, the law recognizes that it is possible to establish and equate the cause of injury or death in many personal injury cases to a single person's irresponsible action. This may not imply that the person intended to cause the accident, which would constitute criminal liability, but that he or she did not take all due and prudent precautions to prevent the injury from happening. Such negligence is usually punishable according to a state's wrongful death statute.

For the average resident of Billings, Montana, or any other American city for that matter, this legal distinction may not always be apparent. The pain and suffering endured due to the loss of a loved one are hardly conditions for which one usually considers legal implications. However, where the death has pecuniary or financial consequences and there's reason to suspect negligence on another person's part, expert legal advice should be sought on whether a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed.

Such legal information can also be obtained via the Internet, through blogs such as ours, and can help establish, at the very least, whether to approach an attorney to take the case forward. There are a number of scenarios in which a wrongful death can have occurred and only an experienced professional may be able to ascertain whether negligence can be ruled out as a cause of death.


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