Losing a child unexpectedly creates unbearable grief for surviving family members and friends. A child’s death is even more tragic if it was caused by the negligence or unintentional actions of others.
No amount of money can bring a child back, and the devastation left by the death of a child is immeasurable. Nevertheless, getting financial compensation for the medical bills, funeral costs, and non-economic damages from a child’s tragic death can reduce some of the burdens on the family.
Is your child a victim of wrongful death? Our personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you recover compensation for your losses. While it will not be enough to ease your grief, it can help reduce some of your family’s financial burdens during this challenging time..
Call our child injury lawyers at (888) 424-5757 or use the online contact form for a free consultation today. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
What Is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death is a legal term that identifies a person who died due to another person’s negligence or misconduct. Negligence could include:
- Comparative negligence
- Vicarious negligence or liability
- Contributory negligence
- Gross negligence
Child Wrongful Death Statistics
In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported unintentional injury as the fifth leading cause of death in children below a year old. From ages 1 to 18, unintentional injury was the leading cause of death.
The CDC also reports the leading causes of unintentional injury deaths. For children below a year old, the leading causes of death were:
- Unintentional suffocation
- Homicide unspecified
- Motor vehicle (MV) traffic
- Homicide specified, classifiable
- Undetermined suffocation
The top causes of death for children aged 1 to 9 were:
- Unintentional drowning
- Traffic accidents
- Homicide unspecified, homicide involving a firearm
- Unintentional suffocation
Child victims aged 10 to 18 died via:
- Traffic accidents
- Suicide involving suffocation and firearms
- Homicide involving a firearm
- Unintentional drowning
Thousands of children die via unintentional injuries every year in the US. Although many of these tragedies are purely accidental, most cases involving child death are the result of someone who should be held accountable.
Causes of Accidents Leading to Wrongful Death Cases
Every individual must follow a duty of care to prevent injury to another person. Most wrongful death cases result from people failing to meet this legal obligation, resulting in a fatal accident.
The following are common causes of accidents leading to child death:
- Motor Vehicle Accidents: These are typically caused by reckless driving, including driving while intoxicated, driving aggressively, and speeding.
- Lack of Supervision: A child’s wrongful death can result from the lack of supervision from their parent or guardian, causing tragedies such as accidental drowning, poisoning, suffocation, and burns. Children may also die from the actions of another child due to lack of supervision.
- Lack of Gun Safety: Every year, children die from firearm injuries. Unintentional death from firearms usually results from a lack of gun safety, leading to children being shot by someone else or accidentally shooting themselves.
- Unsafe Properties: Property owners, institutions, and commercial establishments are legally obligated to ensure the safety of everyone who comes on their land. Failure to meet this obligation can lead to child death. For example, a child may drown in an unfenced pool, slip and fall on uneven floors, or get hit in the head by falling construction debris.
- Medical Malpractice: Medical professionals can also cause accidental child death. Common incidents include failure to diagnose a severe condition, administering the wrong medication, and making mistakes when delivering a newborn that leads to childbirth injuries or death.
- Defective Products: A child may also die from faulty products, primarily toys. Manufacturers of child products must ensure that their products are safe for children. If the products are unsafe for children, manufacturers must put warning labels.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim or Lawsuit
Filing a wrongful death claim against the negligent party can help you recover the financial losses resulting from your child’s injury and death. Although no amount of money can erase the pain and suffering from your loss, reducing your economic losses can help your family move forward.
The first step of filing a wrongful death lawsuit is determining liability. The person or institution at fault for your child’s passing could be any of the following:
- School or Daycare: Learning institutions may be held liable if a child is injured or dies under their care. You can file a wrongful death case against the person responsible for supervising your child and the school itself.
- Motorists: If a child dies in a motor vehicle accident, the other driver may be held fully or partially responsible for the death.
- Another Family Member: If your child’s life was cut short while in the care of another member of the family, you might be able to sue them for wrongful death.
- Babysitters: A babysitter can also be held liable for the death of a child if they were acting negligently. However, they might not be held fully responsible if they are a minor.
- Manufacturers: The families of victims of defective products can hold manufacturers accountable for failing to ensure the safety of their products or failing to warn against hazards.
- Property Owners: If your child died on another person’s property, and the property owner failed to secure the object that caused the child’s fatal injuries (e.g., pool or playground equipment), they may be held liable for the damages. Even if your child was trespassing on the property, the landowner might still be held responsible under the ‘attractive nuisance’ doctrine.
Wrongful Death Damages
Unfortunately, children die due to others’ negligence or misconduct. When this occurs, families who lost a loved one can file a child wrongful death lawsuit to recover financial, emotional, mental, and punitive damages from the negligent party.
Claimable damages resulting from the death of a child may include:
- Medical Expenses: You can sue the other party for the financial loss you experienced from medical costs, including emergency transportation, hospitalization, medication, and surgery.
- Pain and Suffering: You and your family can also recover damages for emotional distress and mental anguish. You may also claim compensation for treatments necessary to seek recovery, such as grief counseling.
- Loss of Companionship and Love: The law recognizes the loss of companionship and love as an immense contributor to a parent’s pain after the death of a child.
- Loss of Financial Support: If you depended on your child for financial support, you might be entitled to compensation for that economic loss.
- Your Child’s Pain Before Passing: If your child suffered a great deal from their physical injuries before passing, you might be able to include their distress in your claim.
- Funeral and Burial Expenses: Finally, you can also sue for the costs of burying a child who died a wrongful death..
An experienced wrongful death attorney can help you maximize your claimable damages. However, the value of your settlement or verdict may heavily depend on the evidence you present in court.
The following forms of evidence may be useful in a lawsuit following the death of a child:
- Medical records
- Incident or accident reports
- Photo and video documentation
- Cellphone and computer records
- Expert testimony
- Psychiatric records
Factors That Can Affect the Value of a Wrongful Death Case
The value of a wrongful death claim varies greatly. The parents’ recovery is typically limited to their economic damages, which can be quite small. Usually, juries use life expectancy charts as a starting point for calculating the value of a claim. However, court rules against jury speculation do not necessarily limit parents to small compensations in this respect.
An experienced attorney can help you determine how much compensation you may receive through the defendant’s insurance coverage. That amount depends on:
- The age, sex, health condition, and life expectancy of the now-deceased child
- The child’s lost earning potential during adulthood had they survived
- The relationship of the youngster or unborn child to those claiming an economic loss
It is often difficult to determine the value of a parent’s claim based on speculation after a young person dies.
Death of a Fetus
Some states require that a child be born alive, then pass away due to negligence or recklessness, to seek damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Fortunately, Illinois does not prevent parents from filing a wrongful death action against a medical professional whose malpractice resulted in a non-viable fetus that died from a subsequent legal abortion (Wrongful Death Act, 740 ILCS 180/2.2).
Families can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party when a child dies due to someone else’s carelessness. Immediate family includes parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, nephews, and nieces.
If the child is no longer a minor, the parent or legal guardian of the adult child may act as a plaintiff if the child was financially dependent on them.
An Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help Your Family Seek Justice
The death of a child can leave lasting impacts on a family, far beyond the tangible losses. If your child passed away from the actions of another, filing a wrongful death case against them can help your family recover damages and receive the justice you deserve.
An experienced wrongful death lawyer from Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC will help guide your family through the legal process. We understand the immense pain of losing a child to an accident or incident and are ready to hold every negligent party responsible.
Our attorneys fight for families on a contingency basis. This arrangement ensures you pay no upfront fees until we obtain compensation on your behalf through a negotiated settlement or jury verdict.
Call an experienced attorney at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation today. All sensitive information you provide will remain confidential under a strict client-attorney relationship.