Wrongful death and furniture tip over cases

Wrongful death cases can provide justice after the death of a loved one.

Wrongful death cases are claims that allow victims to hold accountable those who cause the death of another. The cases can take on many forms and include losses that result from car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, animal attacks, medical malpractice or dangerous products.

What do wrongful death cases look like?

When it comes to the impact of dangerous products, a recent case provides an example. In 2017, a falling dresser was responsible for the death of a 2-year-old boy. Part of the issue in the case was the fact the dresser was recalled due to safety concerns. As a result, the manufacturer, Ikea, was aware of similar tip over accidents. The family of the victim argued the furniture manufacturer failed to take reasonable steps to inform consumers of the recall. As a result, they were unaware of the danger. Had they known, they could have taken the steps needed to protect their family. Namely to attach the dresser to the wall so it would not tip over.

Ultimately, when faced with the evidence Ikea chose to agree to a $46 million payment to the victim's family to settle the claim. The family has stated they will put a portion of this award towards groups that advocate better stability testing for dressers to reduce the risk of similar tragedies.

What is a wrongful death lawsuit?

The case provides an opportunity to discuss the basics of wrongful death lawsuits. These lawsuits are generally governed by state law, which means the details can be different depending on where the case moves forward. The following information will focus on California law, but is broad enough to give anyone the basics of how these cases work.

Wrongful death cases generally require the following four elements:

  • The death of a human being.
  • The death was the result of another's negligent or intentional conduct.
  • The person who died left behind others who experience a negative financial impact from the death. This can include the costs of medical care or emergency response services prior to the individual's death, lost future income due to the individual's death, burial costs and loss of companionship.
  • A named personal representative.

These claims may also involve criminal charges. If so, it is important to note that although the two avenues for justice will likely use similar evidence, they are very different. One of the primary differences is the fact civil cases require a lower standard of proof. As a result, victims may not find justice through a criminal case, but may find success through the civil system.

In California, those who qualify for a wrongful death suit generally have two years to file their claim. Those who do not meet this deadline could lose their ability to file a wrongful death lawsuit.