What Is Death by Negligence?

Death by NegligenceThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the top three current leading causes of death in the US are heart disease, cancer, and COVID-19.

Following closely behind those three deadly medical conditions are accidents or unintentional injuries. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, unintentional injuries were the third-highest cause of death in the United States.

The CDC also reports that in 2018, 24.8 million people had to see a doctor, and 97.9 million people visited emergency rooms due to unintentional injuries or accidents. Accidents typically happen because of someone’s negligence.

Negligence in law is the failure to meet standards of behavior that are intended to protect society against unreasonable risk. It is often a key factor in personal injury and property damage trials. In simpler terms, negligence is carelessness, inattention to details, and/or disregard for the rules. It is often the reason for car accidents, manufacturing errors, medical malpractice, and product defects resulting in severe injury and death.

It is alarming to think that death by negligence happens all the time. The most common tragedies due to negligence include:

Motor vehicle accidents

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that 42,915 people died in crashes on our roadways in 2021. Maryland reported 475 fatal crashes, resulting in 507 fatalities, in 2021.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) lists the major risk factors for fatal car accidents as:

  • Not using seat belts, car seats, and booster seats
  • Drunk driving
  • Speeding

Other acts of negligence resulting in fatal crash deaths include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Drowsy driving
  • Not following traffic laws
  • Eating or drinking while driving
  • Failure to perform standard maintenance on vehicles

Motorcycle deaths

Fourteen percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2020 were due to motorcycle accidents. Carsurance reports that riders’ error caused about 66% of single-vehicle motorcycle crashes in 2019; 42% of motorcyclists died in single-vehicle accidents due to alcohol, and 33% of fatal motorcycle accidents were caused by speeding.

Truck accidents

In 2020, 4,014 people died in crashes involving large trucks. Truck driver fatigue is a common factor in fatal truck accidents. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) conducted research studies that found truck crashes were twice as likely to happen when fatigued truck drivers had been behind the wheel for more than eight hours. A collision with an enormous truck often has fatal consequences for drivers and occupants in smaller passenger vehicles, purely based on the massive size of heavy duty trucks.

Medical negligence

A Johns Hopkins study from 2016 suggested that 10% (more than 250,000 deaths per year) of all U.S. deaths were due to medical error.

Medical negligence is sometimes called medical error or malpractice. It may refer to a doctor, nurse, or medical professional misdiagnosing a condition; prescribing and dispensing the wrong medication or dosage; failing to obtain consent or to warn patients about risks of procedures or medications; and making fatal mistakes during surgery.

These are just a few examples of medical negligence. Nursing home negligence is also rampant in the US and some examples of this mistreatment include medication mix-ups; lack of interaction with patients; deprivation of food and water; and hygiene neglect. This maltreatment can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, bed sores, new medical issues, and even death.

Product liability

Consumer Reports estimates that defective and harmful products are associated with at least 15.5 million injuries and 8,000 deaths per year. When a product malfunctions or is defective, it creates danger to those using it. Recently in the news, 13 infant deaths between 2009 and 2021 were linked to using Fisher-Price Infant to Toddler Rockers and Newborn-to-Toddler Rockers. At least one baby died in 2019 while using a Kids2 Bright Starts Rocker. The death of a child is heartbreaking, but knowing these deaths were preventable makes it even more tragic.

Another infamous case that illustrates product negligence took place in 1998 when the Owens Corning Corporation settled an asbestos-related product liability lawsuit. The lawsuit claimed that building materials provided by the Owens Corporation caused mesothelioma, cancer, and death. The lawsuit included over 230,000 individual claims. Lack of proper testing, shoddy manufacturing, cutting corners to save money -- these are just a sampling of the causes of deadly consumer products.

Workplace accidents

According to Safesite, 5,333 workplace fatalities were reported in 2019. The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Fatal Facts describe cases characterized by hazardous working conditions leading to fatalities at work. Examples of avoidable and horrific workplace accidents include falling from forklifts; being struck and crushed by a cotton press; electrocution on a farm; a parking garage collapse; and asphyxiation in a sewer line manhole.

If you have lost a loved one or suffered traumatic injury due to negligence by another party, the personal injury lawyers at Plaxen Adler Muncy, PA will work to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Call our lawyers at 410-730-7737, or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.