While some of our readers may already be well-versed in the legal definition of wrongful death, others may be looking for a “plain English” definition of what that legal term means. Plainly speaking, wrongful death is a death that has been caused by negligent actions of another person. These deaths can be caused by dangerous products, drunk driving, negligent medical care, etc. In these lawsuits the court determines whether the defendant in the case was so negligent as to have been the cause-in-fact of the victim’s death. The court often analyzes whether if the defendant had not acted if the victim would still be alive. For example, the court may determine that “…but for Doctor X failing to diagnose that Patient Y had this fatal disease, Patient Y would still be alive.” When the court can show that it was the defendant’s actions that did cause the death of the victim, the defendant can be held liable for wrongful death.
One technology start-up that has been positively critiqued as having revolutionized the way in which pedestrians find a taxi in major metropolitan cities is now facing its first wrongful death lawsuit following a pedestrian accident in San Francisco. According to the New York Times, on New Year’s Eve, a family was struck at a crosswalk by an Uber taxi driver, killing the family’s 6-year-old child. According PC World, the lawsuit claimed the driver was working for Uber at the time of the accident and was in travelling between fares after a drop-off. The lawsuit also alleges that the Uber model encourages and enables driver distraction because drivers must use their smartphones to receive information on the location of new fares. And finally, the suit argued that Uber did not properly train the driver.
Uber released a statement acknowledging that the driver’s account was not disabled but added that the driver was not carrying an Uber customer at the time of the accident. However, an argument that victims of these accidents might make for this wrongful death and negligence could be under the legal theory of “respondeat superior.” Under this theory, when an individual is deemed to be at work and causes injury to death to another person (a tortious action), the employer is liable for the employee’s actions. The law holds employers liable for employee’s injuries to others because the employer is viewed to have ordered the employee to carry out specific actions in the course of work for the employer.
Our lawyers are experienced in all aspects of tort theory and liability as a result of our work representing injured individuals for over 20 years. While we are based in Chicago, we represent clients throughout Illinois in all types of wrongful death actions. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed by the careless acts of another, you may have a legal claim against that person. If you pursue a lawsuit, you may be able to hold that person legally accountable for their negligence, and receive compensation for your hardship, suffering and financial losses. Call our firm for a free consultation, and we would be happy to assist you in deciding whether a lawsuit is the right course of action for you.