If you’ve lost a loved one in a fatal accident, it is important to understand what is considered wrongful death in Arkansas. Fatal accidents will justify wrongful death claims in many cases; and, if your family has a claim, taking legal action could be critical for ensuring that you and your loved ones have the financial resources you need to move on.
Understanding What Makes a Death “Wrongful” Under Arkansas Law
What is considered a wrongful death? Legally speaking, a death can be considered “wrongful” in three main scenarios. These are:
- The death resulted from a person’s or company’s negligence
- The death resulted from a person’s or company’s intentional or malicious act
- The death resulted from a product defect
An act or omission is considered “negligent” if it represents a failure to meet the requisite duty of care. Drivers, property owners, doctors, caregivers, pilots, and other individuals in Arkansas all owe legal duties to avoid making mistakes that lead to injuries and deaths. From running a red light to failing to fix a loose handrail, and from surgical errors to ignoring nursing home residents’ needs, negligence can take many forms, and it tragically can lead to death in many cases.
2. Intentional and Malicious Acts
While wrongful death cases involving intentional and malicious acts are less common, they are still far more common than they should be. Shootings are among the most common examples, though fatal intentional and malicious acts can take many other forms as well. Oftentimes, filing a wrongful death claim following a shooting or other intentional act will involve suing the owner of the business or property where the accident happened.
Numerous types of fatal accidents can fall into each of these categories. Additionally, in many cases, grieving families will have claims in more than one of these categories as well.
An All-To-Common Example: A Wrongful Death Resulting from a Fatal Car Accident
Let’s consider one of the most common scenarios: A driver is killed in a car accident. Depending on the circumstances involved, the driver’s family could have claims including (but not limited to):
- A claim against another driver for negligence (i.e., if a distracted or drunk driver caused the accident);
- A claim against another driver for intentionally causing harm (i.e., if another driver engaging in road rage forced the victim off of the road);
- A claim for negligence against the other driver’s employer (i.e., if the other driver was working at the time of the fatal accident and was not qualified to be behind the wheel);
- A claim for negligence against a government agency or contractor (i.e., if an issue with the road played a role in the victims’ fatal accident);
- A claim for negligence against a dealership or repair shop (i.e., if the dealership or repair shop performed negligent service work that led to the fatal accident);
- A claim for a vehicle defect that caused the accident (i.e., if another driver’s brakes failed); and/or
- A claim for a vehicle defect that caused the victim’s death (i.e., if the victim’s airbag failed to deploy).
All of these are examples of issues that could classify the victim’s death as “wrongful” under Arkansas law. They are also just a small sampling of the types of claims the victim’s family may be able to file. After a fatal accident, determining the family’s legal rights requires a prompt and thorough investigation, so it is important to begin working with a law firm as soon as possible.
If you have tragically lost a loved one in a fatal accident in Arkansas, we strongly encourage you to speak with one of our wrongful death lawyers about your family’s legal rights.
To schedule a FREE, no-obligation consultation, contact Bailey & Oliver Law Firm today online or at 479-202-5200. We proudly serve clients throughout the state from our office in Rogers, AR.