Wrongful Death Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Wrongful Death, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Wrongful Death?

(n) When somebody dies in consequences of a wrongful act a person, either by negligence or by a deliberate act, such death is called wrongful death. The intention of the wrongdoer is not relevant to make a death a wrongful death. So any unnatural death occurred as a consequence of somebody’s act is called as wrongful death

History and Meaning of Wrongful Death

Wrongful death is a legal term that has its roots in English common law. It refers to a civil action where damages are sought against a person or entity that is responsible for causing the death of another person due to their negligent, reckless or intentional actions. The term has been adopted in many jurisdictions around the world and serves to provide compensation to the survivors of the deceased individual.

Examples of Wrongful Death

  1. A family sues a driver who caused a fatal car accident due to their reckless driving.
  2. A hospital is sued for medical negligence resulting in a patient's death.
  3. A manufacturer is held responsible for the death of a consumer due to a defective product.
  4. A motorist is charged with vehicular manslaughter after hitting and killing a pedestrian while driving under the influence.
  5. A construction company is sued for negligence resulting in the death of a worker on the job.

Legal Terms Similar to Wrongful Death

  • Negligence - failure to exercise reasonable care that results in harm to another.
  • Vehicular manslaughter - causing the death of another person while operating a vehicle.
  • Medical malpractice - professional negligence by a healthcare provider that causes harm or death to a patient.
  • Strict liability - holding someone liable for harm caused regardless of fault or intent.