What Constitutes a Wrongful Death

what constitutes wrongful death

Abingdon, Bristol and Johnson City

Wrongful death is a type of personal injury in which someone is killed due to another party’s negligence or intentional act. Though in America there hasn’t always been a legal remedy for wrongful death, during the last century, state and federal courts ruled that the survivors have the right to bring wrongful death legal action. Now, every state in the nation has some kind of wrongful death law. Survivors or the estate can file the wrongful death suit to recover money for funeral expenses, loss of expected income, and lost companionship. At the Law Offices of Michael R. Munsey, P.C., we want to provide you with some information about what constitutes a wrongful death in the Tri-Cities.

Duty of Care

Every adult has a certain duty of care and safety in their relationships with others. Basically, every driver agrees to exercise a reasonable duty of care toward other drivers. Hosts have the same type of duty of care toward guests so that they remain safe on their host’s property; retail stores toward customers, and doctors toward their patients.

Breach of Duty

If the responsible party breaches their duty, they could be sued in a wrongful death case. In other words, it must be proven that a reasonable person acted negligently; did not exercise the care that should have been expected, and that it was their responsibility to provide that care.


Another element of the wrongful death claim is that the death of the victim was directly caused by the neglect of the other person. If a doctor prescribes a drug, and the patient has a fatal allergic reaction, the lawyer considers whether the doctor knew of the allergy and failed to take the allergy into account. If no one knew there was an allergy, then there is no negligence. If a driver or passenger in a car hit by a drunk driver dies at the scene, the death was a wrongful one because drinking alcohol and operating an automobile is unlawful. The victim died because of the driver’s irresponsible action.

Who can Sue for Wrongful Death?

In all 50 states, Tennessee and Virginia included, a husband or wife may bring a wrongful death action on behalf of his or her spouse. Parents of a minor child can sue for wrongful death if their child is killed. Minors can bring an action on behalf of their parents as well. However, not all states agree on whether the parents of an adult child can sue or whether an extended family member can bring suit. The more distant the relatives, the harder time they will have to win a case for compensation. There is widespread disagreement on whether life partners can sue or recover damages.

Wrongful Death is not a Felony Conviction

Wrongful death may also be an intentional act like murder or death as a result of a felony like armed robbery. Wrongful death cases usually follow a trial for murder of some degree. As in the case of O.J. Simpson, the defendant may be acquitted of murder and lose in the wrongful death case. The jury in the murder case has to reach a unanimous verdict beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury in the wrongful death action may base their decision on a preponderance of the evidence.

We want to be there to protect your interests – hire a wrongful death attorney in Kingsport

If someone you loved has suffered a wrongful death at the hands of another’s failure to exercise their legal responsibility in Kingsport, Johnson City, or Bristol, please contact the Law Offices of Michael R. Munsey, P.C., by calling (276) 451-2056. The untimely death of anyone is a tragedy. We want to be there to protect your interests and guide you through this difficult time.

The Law Offices of Michael R. Munsey, P.C., proudly serves Kingsport, Johnson City, Bristol, TN and Bristol, VA.