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What Are the Most Common Causes of Wrongful Death?

Life experiences demonstrate to most of us that we live in a very dangerous world. Of course, some dangers are more apparent than others. For example, almost all of us have witnessed the carnage that can result from motor vehicle accidents and semi-truck collisions. Similarly, we hear stories almost daily in the news media about violent death occurring around the country as a result of intentional criminal acts. On the other hand, even though most of us have heard of the opioid epidemic by now, many are unaware just how great has become the associated loss of life. Similarly, many people are less aware of tragic deaths occurring across the country as the result of medical negligencenursing home negligence and abuse, and a variety of other causes. In this article, we will examine common causes of wrongful death.

Accidental Death Statistics

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released mortality statistics through the year 2016. The agency lists “accidental death” as the fourth highest cause of death in the United States. This category is generally considered to comprise accidental, preventable deaths. It does not include intentional acts, such as homicide, and does not include death from natural causes.

Are These Accidental Deaths the Same as Wrongful Deaths?

The answer is “sometimes, yes, and sometimes, no.” In Oregon, a cause of action for wrongful death arises when a person’s death is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another. For example, if a driver, due to no fault of another person, runs into a tree and dies, it would be an accidental death, but not a wrongful death. On the other hand, if a semi-truck runs the car off the road, resulting in the driver’s death, it would be a wrongful death. Below, we will take a look at some of the top causes of accidental death listed by the CDC, which can also constitute wrongful death.

Poisoning – amazingly, this is now the number one cause of accidental death listed by the CDC. Undoubtedly, the opioid epidemic has played a role in the rise of this cause of death. The negligent prescribing of these, or any other drugs, by a physician might give rise to a wrongful death action. Additionally, it is becoming much more common to attempt to hold big pharmaceutical companies responsible for their products.

Motor Vehicle Accidents – it should come as no surprise that motor vehicle accidents are high on this list. With millions of cars and semi-trucks on the road daily, crashes happen far too frequently. When these crashes are caused by the negligence of another person, an action for wrongful death is appropriate.

Falls – perhaps somewhat surprisingly, falls finish at number three on the CDC’s list. Some falls are not caused by anyone’s negligence and are only tragic accidents. However, many falls are caused by the acts of others. A third party might leave a slippery substance on the floor or create a hazard which causes someone to trip. When death results, a wrongful death action is appropriate.

Other Causes – while we have listed the top three causes, remember that there are lots of others, such as medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, and exposure to asbestos. Also, this article focused on accidental death – intentional actions can also be a basis for a wrongful death action.

Call with Your Questions

Sometimes, accidental death is truly an accident, with no one to blame. On other occasions, even though a death may be classified as “accidental,” the accident is the result of another person’s negligence. In such circumstances, all of society is protected when the wrongdoers are held accountable for their actions. If you have suffered the loss of a loved one, and have questions about another person’s liability, please call so that we can help. We are familiar with wrongful death laws and can help you investigate and evaluate the circumstances of your case.

Helpful Links:

National Safety Council Fatality Table: