Negligent or reckless actions can cause serious injury or death to other people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 173,000 people died in 2019 because of accidents or other unintentional injuries. Learn the differences between a personal injury vs. wrongful death claim. If you or a loved one suffered injury or death as a result of a car accident or other act of negligence, consider visiting with the knowledgeable and compassionate legal team at Labrum Law Firm today at (615) 338-9500 to learn how you might be able to receive compensation for your loss and suffering.
What Is The Difference Between Personal Injury and Wrongful Death?
While personal injury cases and wrongful death cases share some similarities, they have a distinct difference.
Personal injury claims are used to seek monetary compensation for victims of accidents or other situations that occurred because of someone else's negligent or reckless actions. Wrongful death claims are used to seek monetary compensation on behalf of victims who died as a result of someone else's actions. Think of a wrongful death claim as a personal injury claim that the victim would have filed if the victim had survived the incident.
While personal injury vs. wrongful death claims are each used in specific situations, they are both considered part of tort law, also known as civil law. If the negligent party (also called the defendant) acted illegally, they could also face criminal charges for their actions.
What Is Negligence?
Legally, negligence occurs when someone acts or fails to act in a way that results in the injury or death of someone else. Courts may consider the following factors in establishing negligence:
- The duty of care owed by the defendant to the victim
- Action or lack of action by the defendant that results in a failure of the duty of care
- An injury or loss incurred by the victim
- The facts of the incident and the victim's injury (also called causation in fact)
- The primary cause behind the victim's injury (also called legal cause)
Types of Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Claims
Although there are some differences in personal injury vs. wrongful death claims, they are often filed as a result of similar incidents. Victims or their surviving family members might be able to file claims as a result of:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Trucking accidents
- Drunk driving accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Construction accidents
- Industrial or manufacturing accidents
- Railroad deaths
- Animal attacks
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- Defective medical devices
- Defective medications
- Slip and fall accidents
- Premises liability cases
- Defective products
Who Can File a Personal Injury Vs. Wrongful Death Claim?
There are specific rules regarding who can file a personal injury vs. wrongful death claim. Personal injury claims can generally be filed by the victim. If the victim is unable to act on his or her own behalf, someone else might be able to file a claim on the victim's behalf.
In wrongful death cases, the following people might be able to file a claim:
- The legal representative of the deceased victim's estate
- The deceased victim's dependents
- Other family members
How Are Personal Injury Vs. Wrongful Death Claims Decided?
In Tennessee, most personal injury and wrongful death claims are decided by a jury. Because personal injury and wrongful death cases are civil cases, the burden of proof is lower than in criminal cases. Criminal cases require proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Under Tennessee statute, civil cases only require that the defendant is proven to be responsible for the victim's injury or death based on a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, the evidence must show that the defendant's actions, more likely than not, caused the victim's injury or death.
Both criminal injury and wrongful death cases require a deep understanding of the law and strong legal skills to build and bring to court. Consider visiting with the legal team at Labrum Law Firm about your legal rights and the details of your car accident, personal injury, or wrongful death case.
Compensation in Personal Injury Vs. Wrongful Death Claims
There are specific rules for compensation in personal injury vs. wrongful death claims. In personal injury claims, compensation might be awarded to:
- The victim
- Those who are financially responsible for the victim, such as a parent or legal guardian
In wrongful death claims, compensation might be awarded to:
- The victim's dependent
- The victim's other relatives
The amount of and reasons for compensation vary widely among both personal injury and wrongful death claims. In Tennessee, victims or victims' family members may be able to receive compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost wages due to injury
- Loss of future wages due to the death of the victim
- Out-of-pocket expenses incurred for cleaning the scene of a crime
- Property damage caused by the defendant
Under Tennessee law, damages for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering, cannot exceed:
- $750,000 for all injuries and occurrences in a case
- $1,000,000 for a surviving victim with catastrophic injuries, or wrongful death of the parent of minor children
Time Limits For Filing Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Claims
Tennessee law limits the time victims and their families have to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim to one year from the date of the incident that caused injury or death, with a few rare exceptions. Victims or their families should act promptly if they wish to seek justice for the victim's injury or death.
Legal Help With Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Claims
Car accidents and other occurrences can change the lives of victims and their loved ones forever. Understanding the difference between a personal injury vs. wrongful death claim is only the first step. Victims and families should know and understand their rights to seek fair and just compensation for their expenses, pain, and suffering. Building a case against a negligent party amid severe injury, grief, and stress is not easy to do alone. If you or a family member suffered injury or death as a result of someone else's negligence, consider visiting with the knowledgeable, compassionate legal team at Labrum Law Firm at (615) 338-9500 to learn how we may be able to help you with your case.