Filing a wrongful death lawsuit in the wake of losing a loved one can be an option when the death resulted from negligence or recklessness. And often, asbestos-related illnesses that prove fatal can be linked to these types of behaviors.
However, not all deaths related to illnesses like mesothelioma are wrongful.
Determining whether a death was wrongful
In the eyes of the law, a death must fit certain criteria to be wrongful. And while the specific statutes vary by state, there are general similarities that can determine whether a death was legally wrongful.
Thus, ask yourself:
- Did someone fail in a duty to protect your loved one? This person could be an employer, a product manufacturer or a property owner who failed to take precautions to protect individuals. It could also include parties who knowingly put others in danger by exposing them to asbestos without proper warning or protection.
- Did that failure contribute to your loved one’s death? If your loved one died because of that negligence, it could be wrongful. However, if there is no connection between death and wrongdoing, a wrongful death claim can be unsuccessful.
- Were there monetary injuries resulting from the death? Losing someone often feels like injury enough. However, to pursue legal action, parties must show damages like loss of support, medical and funeral costs and loss of services.
If you can answer yes to these questions, you may well have grounds to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
When an asbestos-related death may not be wrongful
In most cases, deaths stemming from mesothelioma or lung cancer due to asbestos exposure are wrongful. However, there are exceptions.
For instance, if the individual was responsible for their own exposure, there may be no negligence. If they passed away from conditions unrelated to asbestos exposure, parties may not be able to tie damages to the asbestos-related negligence.
Finally, there are statutes of limitations in place, meaning parties have only so much time to file a lawsuit. If you are outside these limitations, you cannot pursue this type of action. Again, the rules vary by law, so consulting an attorney in your state can be wise.
Every preventable death can seem wrongful to the people who lost someone they love. However, considering these points can help determine if your loss fits the legal criteria to pursue a wrongful death claim.