Premises Liability in Wrongful Death Cases
If a property owner’s negligence caused the wrongful death of your loved one, you might be able to seek compensation. In this post, we will explore the concept of premises liability and how it applies to wrongful death cases.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is a legal concept that holds property owners responsible for injuries or damages that occur on their property due to negligence. Property owners have a legal obligation to maintain a safe environment for visitors, customers, and tenants. If they fail to do so and someone is injured, they may be held liable for damages.
Common causes of premises liability cases include slip and fall accidents, dog bites, swimming pool accidents, and inadequate security. In wrongful death cases, premises liability can apply if the death was caused by unsafe conditions on the property, such as a faulty railing or a slippery floor.
Establishing Premises Liability in a Wrongful Death Case
To establish premises liability in a wrongful death case, the plaintiff must prove that the property owner had a legal obligation to provide a safe environment for visitors. This obligation is commonly known as a “duty of care.” In premises liability cases, the duty of care requires the property owner to take reasonable steps to maintain the property in a safe condition and to warn visitors of any known hazards that are not open and obvious.
The plaintiff must then prove that the property owner breached this duty of care by failing to take reasonable steps to ensure safety. This can involve a range of factors, such as inadequate maintenance, lack of security measures, or failure to warn visitors of potential hazards.
The breach of duty must have directly caused or contributed to the victim’s death. This means that the plaintiff must show that the victim’s death would not have occurred if the property owner had fulfilled their duty of care. For example, if the victim died as a result of slipping on a wet floor in a store, the plaintiff must show that the store owner’s failure to place warning signs or clean up the floor caused the accident and subsequent death.
Finally, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the victim’s death resulted in damages for them. Damages can include medical expenses, funeral costs, lost earnings, and emotional distress. In a wrongful death case, damages can also include the loss of the deceased person’s love, guidance, and companionship.
Types of Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
There are two main types of damages that can be awarded in a wrongful death case: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are damages that can be quantified in monetary terms and are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for specific financial losses incurred as a result of the victim’s death. Economic damages may include:
- Medical expenses related to the victim’s final injury or illness: In a wrongful death case, the plaintiff may recover medical expenses that were incurred as a result of the victim’s final injury or illness. This can include hospital bills, doctor’s fees, medication costs, and any other medical expenses related to the treatment of the victim’s final injury or illness.
- Funeral and burial expenses: The plaintiff may also recover expenses related to the victim’s funeral and burial. This can include costs such as casket or urn expenses, funeral home fees, transportation costs, and cemetery fees. Lost wages or earnings of the deceased: If the victim was employed and contributed to their household income, the plaintiff may recover the amount of wages or earnings that the victim would have earned had they lived. This can include not only the victim’s current income, but also any potential income that they would have earned over their remaining working years.
- Loss of potential inheritance: The plaintiff may also be entitled to compensation for the loss of potential inheritance that they would have received had the victim lived. This can include not only financial assets, but also intangible assets such as family heirlooms or sentimental items.
- Loss of benefits, such as health insurance or retirement funds: If the victim had benefits such as health insurance or retirement funds, the plaintiff may be entitled to compensation for the loss of those benefits. This can include any contributions that the victim made to their retirement plan, as well as any employer contributions that the victim would have received.
Non-economic damages are damages that are not easily quantifiable in monetary terms and are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for emotional or intangible losses that resulted from the victim’s death. Non-economic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering experienced by the victim before their death
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Emotional distress suffered by the plaintiff due to the death of their loved one
- Loss of guidance or nurturing, particularly in cases where the deceased was a parent
Calculating Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
Calculating damages in a wrongful death case can be a complex process that requires the assistance of experienced legal professionals. The amount of damages that can be awarded in a wrongful death case will vary depending on a number of factors, including the victim’s age, income, and life expectancy, as well as the circumstances surrounding the death.
In general, the greater the financial losses suffered by the plaintiff and the more severe the emotional impact of the victim’s death, the higher the damages awarded are likely to be.
Examples of Premises Liability in Wrongful Death Cases
A wrongful death case resulting from premises liability can occur in many different situations. Here are some examples:
- A person falls down a flight of stairs in a poorly lit stairwell and dies as a result of their injuries.
- A person drowns in a swimming pool due to inadequate fencing or lack of supervision.
- A person is electrocuted by a faulty electrical system in a building.
- A person dies as a result of a fire caused by a property owner’s failure to maintain smoke detectors.
Contact The Sampson Law Firm for Help
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of a property owner, you may be entitled to compensation. At The Sampson Law Firm, we have experience in handling wrongful death cases and can help you navigate the legal process. We understand the emotional toll that such cases can take and will work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at (502) 584-5050 to schedule a consultation.