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Accidental vs. Wrongful Death: What’s the Difference?

Not every incident that results in loss of life warrants legal action. The death that follows an accident, for instance, may be accidental or wrongful. The surviving family members may not be able to seek damages if the death is due to an accident without negligence.

On the other hand, the surviving kin of the deceased may contact an experienced wrongful death attorney if the demise of the victim is due to negligence.

How can people differentiate accidental and wrongful death? These concepts may help clear the confusion:

Accidental Death Defined

This type of death pertains to a demise resulting from an unusual, unintended, unexpected, and unforeseeable event.  The death of the person is accidental without another party’s negligence causing it, where it occurs without any unreasonable conduct by a party other than decent.  The key concept is whether a person or entity other than the decedent acted negligently, or unreasonably under the circumstances, and contributed to the death.

Some examples of accidental death could be:

  • Industrial accidents – This includes mining accidents, explosions on the workplace, and equipment malfunctions. Here, the negligent party may only be the employer, in which case a civil action would most often be barred by workers’ compensation.
  • Poisoning – The death may be due to poisoning by liquids and solids or vapors and gases, and there is no negligent party who caused it.
  • Blunt impact from a projectile or falling object
  • Suffocation caused by swallowing and choking on food or other objects that obstruct the air passage

The Definition of Wrongful Death

This type of death occurs when the misconduct or negligence of an individual kills a person. The law defines key elements present in wrongful death. These are:

  • Negligence – The surviving member should prove that the victim’s demise was due to the defending party’s careless or reckless actions.
  • Causation – The plaintiff must demonstrate how the negligence or misbehavior of the defendant caused the death of the victim.
  • Breach of Duty – The surviving member should establish that the defending party breached the Duty of Care owed to the dead victim. Tort law defines Duty of Care as the legal obligation of an individual or organization to avoid committing omissions or behaviors that may foreseeably hurt others.

A few examples of wrongful death are:

  • Medical Malpractice – Wrongful death may happen if hospitals or medical professionals fail to adhere to proper procedures.
  • Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect – The staff and the nursing home facility may be liable for wrongful death if they are unable to monitor, care for, and deliver medical attention to residents.
  • Defective Product – Both the manufacturer and company that sold the product may be responsible for wrongful death if a person dies from using the product.

Assisting Clients with Wrongful Death Claims

If you have reason to believe that the death of your family member is due to the negligence of another party, you can file a wrongful death claim with the help of a law firm. Haffner Law assists clients in Long Beach in obtaining just compensation for the untimely and wrongful passing of their loved one.

Our attorneys will investigate your claim, hold the at-fault party responsible for the demise of your family member, and secure the fair and full settlement you deserve.

Schedule a consultation with our law office by calling 1-844-HAFFNER today.

(This is an attorney advertisement by Joshua Haffner)


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$ 97,284,817

Class Action / Rest Break


Bad Faith

$ 8,820,000

Brain Injury


Medical Malpractice


Wrongful Death / Accident


Construction Defect
view all

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