If you believe someone close to you died because of the actions of another person or an organization, you may want to discuss your options with a wrongful death attorney. It's a good idea to go into the process with an understanding of what the three types of potential wrongful death claims are. Each represents an escalating scale of deliberateness in what happened. Here is what a wrongful death lawyer would tell you about each one.

Negligent Deaths

A wrongful death due to negligence occurs when someone fails to take an expected action that would prevent others from coming to harm. Suppose you were at a swimming pool. On any given day, there are plenty of potential hazards that could hard or even kill someone in such an area. Water can collect, for example, and it's important to have anti-slip surfaces installed to protect swimmers when they're out of the water.

Failing to do something expected opens the swimming pool's operator up to a negligence claim, especially if they've been informed about the issue prior to injuries or a death happening. If there were an issue with the diving board and people told the manager about it, continuing to allow people to use the diving board would be negligence. A result fatality would then be grounds for a wrongful death claim.


This is the next step up the scale of deliberateness. The at-fault party has actively done something, such as when a driver is speeding. Conversely, the at-fault motorist didn't set out to hurt someone by speeding. Instead, their actions were reckless because society imposes speed limits on roadways specifically because people can be harmed by rapidly moving vehicles going out of control.


Finally, there is the most deliberate form of wrongful deaths. These are ones arising from intentional efforts to harm others. For example, a person who gets involved in a physical altercation in order to make a point might be accused of causing a wrongful death if a punch killed the recipient. As a society, people are expected to refrain from extreme acts of violence unless they can be justified by the circumstances, such as self-defense.

Intentional killings are also wrongful deaths. The classic version of this is when a suit is brought over a police-involved shooting. Similarly, separate civil actions can be pursued in criminal manslaughter and homicide cases. This applies even if the initial prosecution fails.