A wrongful death lawsuit involving a claim of automobile negligence against the patient of a caregiver ends with the jury awarding the victim's family more than a half million dollars in the case. A 59-year-old caregiver was accompanying her elderly patient to a diner when the now 81-year-old man drove his car onto the sidewalk while attempting to park, pinning his caregiver against a wall. She had gotten out of the vehicle before he attempted to park the car and lost a leg in the accident. She later died from her injuries.
An eight-person jury found the man negligent in the wrongful death suit last week and awarded the surviving family members $300,000 for their pain and suffering and $225,000 for wrongful death. Although both sides agreed the driver was negligent in the case, it was not without legal complications over the employment status of the victim. The defense argued the victim was employed and died while fulfilling her duties as an employee and was thus covered under workers' compensation laws.
The plaintiff, however, argued the victim's employment was as an independent contractor and therefore would not be covered under workers' compensation laws making the family entitled to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the employer. The victim did not pay any payroll taxes and did not have a written contract with her employer. The jury agreed with the plaintiff's argument and awarded the family for their loss.
A wrongful death claim can result from a number of events. With car and truck accidents being one of the leading causes of death in this country, it is no surprise it is also one of the leading causes for personal injury and wrongful death claims. Often times just having a personal injury attorney on your side can ensure the party responsible for the injuries or death, as well as their insurance companies, respond to your claims appropriately.
If you have been injured in a car or truck accident, an insurance company may appear to be acting swiftly and on your behalf and that is a sure sign you should contact an attorney before signing anything to protect your rights now and well into the future.
Source: The Star-Ledger, "Family wins $525K in wrongful death civil suit," Julia Terru, May 2, 2012