Skip to main content
July 12, 2023

10 Most Common Wrongful Death Examples in California

Legally reviewed by: Jessica Anvar Stotz, JD, MBA

According to data from the National Safety Council (NSC), there were 224,935 preventable injury-related deaths in 2021. 20.1%, or 45,189 deaths were caused by motor vehicle accidents. An additional 2%, or 4,473 deaths happened at work.

While motor vehicle accidents and workplace incidents account for a significant portion of these tragic events, there are various other common scenarios in which wrongful deaths occur in the state of California.

Understanding the range of common scenarios is vital in raising awareness, promoting safety measures, and seeking justice for the victims and their families. From medical malpractice to defective products, each wrongful death case represents a potential opportunity for legal recourse. Below are 10 examples of wrongful death cases:

1. Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents claim thousands of lives each year. Negligent driving behaviors, including speeding, distracted driving, and impaired driving, contribute to these tragic incidents on the roads.

A 16-year-old high school baseball player tragically lost his life in a car crash caused by illegal street racing. The parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Los Angeles County, alleging that a 911 operator’s actions contributed to the accident.

The lawsuit claimed that defective road conditions at the intersection also played a role. After a legal battle, Los Angeles County settled the civil lawsuit for $6.5 million. This case highlights the importance of proper emergency response and road safety in preventing such devastating accidents.

2. Workplace Accidents

Workplace accidents occur due to hazardous conditions, lack of proper safety protocols, or equipment failures. Tragically, preventable incidents such as falls, machinery accidents, and exposure to toxic substances claim lives in various industries.

This workplace trucking negligence lawsuit resulted in a settlement of approximately $8 million. A worker was fatally injured while working in an industrial yard when he was pinned between a tractor and trailer. The plaintiff argued that the driver and the employer failed to adhere to industry standards and provide proper training.

The defense claimed that the worker’s employer and the industrial yard also shared responsibility. The case was settled after 8.5 hours of mediation, with the motor carrier’s insurer agreeing to the settlement amount under a confidentiality agreement.

3. Bicycle & Pedestrian Accidents

Bicycle and pedestrian accidents result in wrongful deaths when motorists fail to exercise caution or violate traffic rules. Reckless driving, distracted driving, and failure to yield to pedestrians and cyclists contribute to these tragic incidents, highlighting the need for increased road safety awareness.

During a Halloween and birthday celebration, a young woman tragically fell off a center median into the street. As she lay on the road, a driver stopped in front of her but then ran her over, causing fatal injuries. The plaintiffs reached a settlement with the defendants, amounting to just over $10 million.

4. Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents, often caused by unsafe premises, result in severe injuries and fatalities. Hazards like wet floors, uneven surfaces, or inadequate signage can lead to fatal falls. Property owners’ negligence in maintaining a safe environment can be held accountable in wrongful death cases.

A wrongful death settlement of $4.1 million was reached after a tenant in an apartment building tragically fell three stories to a concrete floor when a detached guardrail failed to support his weight. The settlement acknowledges the devastating consequences of the incident and provides some measure of compensation for the loss suffered.

5. Defective Products

Wrongful deaths occur when individuals are harmed by defective products such as pharmaceuticals, appliances, or vehicles. Design flaws, manufacturing defects, or inadequate warnings can lead to fatal accidents or health complications, making product liability an important area of concern.

Three patients tragically experienced cardiac arrests and died after receiving dialysis treatments at clinics operated by DaVita Inc. Subsequently, the families of these patients filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company. A jury concluded that DaVita had concealed crucial information about the risks associated with GranuFlo, a product known to cause harmful pH imbalances.

The jury awarded the families a significant settlement of $383.5 million, acknowledging DaVita’s failure to disclose vital facts and the potential connection between high pH levels and an increased risk of stroke or heart attack.

6. Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice cases involve wrongful deaths due to healthcare professionals’ negligence, errors in diagnosis, surgical mistakes, or inadequate patient care. These unfortunate incidents underscore the importance of maintaining high medical standards and ensuring patient safety.

The family of a newborn boy received a $3.5 million settlement following his tragic death due to medical malpractice during birth. Despite signs of fetal distress, the attending physician did not perform a necessary c-section in a timely manner. The settlement reflects the devastating consequences of the physician’s negligence.

7. Aviation Accidents

Aviation accidents, including plane crashes and helicopter incidents, can result in catastrophic wrongful deaths. Factors like pilot error, mechanical failures, or air traffic control negligence contribute to these tragedies, necessitating thorough investigations to determine liability.

The families of five passengers who lost their lives in a 2022 plane crash off the North Carolina coast have settled wrongful death lawsuits for $15 million. The settlement was reached with the companies that owned the plane, employed the pilot, and the pilot’s estate. The crash claimed the lives of four teenagers, two adults, and the pilot’s adult son.

8. Boating Accidents

Wrongful deaths occur in boating accidents when operators fail to adhere to safety guidelines, operate under the influence, or overlook hazardous conditions. Collisions, capsizing, or drowning are incidents that can result in fatal injuries.

The surviving family members of a man who drowned off the coast of Huntington Beach received a $10 million settlement in a wrongful death claim against Catalina Sea Ranch (CSR). The family alleges negligence on the part of the aquaculture company for failing to maintain the underwater lines, which led to the boat capsizing.

9. Poisoning

Poisoning-related wrongful deaths can result from exposure to toxic substances, including chemicals, medications, or contaminated food and water. Whether accidental or intentional, poisoning cases require thorough investigation to identify liability and prevent further harm.

Big Olaf Creamery was ordered to pay $4 million, including $1 million in punitive damages, to the estate of a 79-year-old woman whose death was connected to a listeria outbreak traced back to the Florida-based ice cream maker. The woman suffered greatly, and her death had a significant impact on her loved ones. The listeria outbreak affected victims in multiple states and resulted in a pregnancy loss.

10. Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home neglect can lead to wrongful deaths when residents receive inadequate care, experience abuse, or suffer from neglectful conditions. It is essential to hold facilities accountable for maintaining the safety and well-being of vulnerable elderly individuals.

A California nursing home has been ordered to pay nearly $30 million in a wrongful death lawsuit for failing to provide proper care and causing the death of a resident due to untreated bedsores. The verdict included $28 million in punitive damages, reflecting the jury’s belief in the facility’s malicious or oppressive actions.

examples of wrongful death

Why should someone get in touch with a lawyer if they have questions about their case?

At LawLinq, we understand the importance of seeking legal assistance when you have questions about your case. Our team of experienced attorneys is here to provide you with the legal expertise and support you need throughout the process. From evaluating the merits of your case to developing a tailored legal strategy, we are committed to protecting your rights and maximizing your chances of a favorable outcome.

To get started, simply visit our website or call our helpline at (855) 997-2558. Our dedicated team at LawLinq is ready to listen to your concerns, provide personalized guidance, and connect you with the appropriate attorney for your case. Reach out to LawLinq today and let us help you find the right lawyer who will provide the expert advice and representation you deserve.

About the Author

Jessica Anvar

California Consumer Litigation Attorney Jessica Anvar, Esq. is the Founder and Managing Partner of Lemon Law Experts California’s leading lemon law firm. She has multiple years’ worth of experience working with both state and federal lemon laws. Her practice focuses exclusively on consumer protection cases. Ms. Anvar received her J.D. from Loyola Law School. She also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Loyola Marymount University. Jessica is very active in her local legal community and has helped thousands of clients across the state of California. She has an outstanding record as a true advocate for consumers.

Request A Lawyer

Request a Lawyer Referral

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Call Us: (855) 997-2558