When you think of the term wrongful death lawsuit, what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of OJ Simpson or 1990s-era pop star Brandy, two celebrities who were the target of wrongful death lawsuits. But just what is a wrongful death suit? Must you be rich and famous to be involved in one? Hardly.
We at McCormick & Murphy personal injury law firm in Colorado explain what a wrongful death suit is before reviewing five famous wrongful death lawsuits involving celebrities that you might have heard of in the news.
What is a wrongful death suit?
Wrongful death lawsuits haven’t been around forever. In fact, they’re relatively new to the American justice system. Before wrongful death suits were allowed by our legal system, individuals who were seriously injured could recover damages, but the family members of those who died from their injuries had no legal recourse. Thankfully, things are different now.
In Colorado, families may bring a wrongful death suit in a variety of situations that resulted in the death of a loved one, including car accidents, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, ATV accidents, sports accidents, pool and hot tub accidents, medication errors and many more.
In order to win, families must be able to establish that that the incident that resulted in their loved one’s death was caused by someone’s negligent, reckless or intentional conduct.
What are some famous wrongful death suits?
You may not know anyone who has brought a wrongful death suit against a person or entity. But you’ve probably heard of many famous wrongful death lawsuits in the news, including the following.
- OJ Simpson
- Nancy Grace
- John Ritter
- Robert Blake
The former actor and NFL running back was found not guilty of the 1994 murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, his ex-wife, and her friend Ron Goldman. Family members of the couple filed a wrongful death suit against Simpson, who was found liable in 1997. Simpson was ordered to pay more than $33 million in damages to the families of the victims, according to Biography.com.
Known for her hits like “I Wanna Be Down” and “The Boy Is Mine,” the 1990s pop princess and actress forked over $300,000 to each of the sons of a woman killed when her car was struck by Brandy’s Land Rover in December 2006, according to E News.
The former prosecutor and controversial TV-show host was sued along with her employer after the 2006 suicide of Melinda Duckett. Duckett, whose 2-year-old son had gone missing, was grilled about her son’s disappearance on Grace’s TV show. According to ABC News, Duckett “fatally shot herself after being battered by tough questions” from Grace. The suit was settled out of court in 2010, when Grace agreed to establish a $200,000 trust dedicated to finding the young man.
The widow of comedian John Ritter, who starred in the TV shows “Three’s Company” and “8 Simple Rules,” sued his doctors for $67 million after he died of an undetected aortic dissection in 2003, according to Today.com. She lost the suit in 2008.
In 2005, the 1970s-era TV star was acquitted by a jury in the death of his second wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. Just eight months later, however, a civil jury found that he killed Bakley or had someone else kill her and ordered him to pay $30 million to her children, according to The Washington Post.
Do I have a wrongful death case?
Wrongful death suits are complicated, sensitive matters. If your loved one died in an accident that may have been due to the negligence of others — that is to say that it may have been prevented — the best thing you can do is contact a veteran wrongful death attorney for a free consultation. While wrongful death lawsuits are similar to personal injury lawsuits, there are distinct differences. Just because a lawyer is experienced in working with personal injury lawsuits doesn’t mean she is familiar with in the intricacies of wrongful death lawsuits. Be sure to choose a lawyer who is familiar with the later, if not both.
If a loved one tragically passed away due to an accident that could have been prevented, give us a call at 1-888-668-1182 or fill out this form for a free case review. Our veteran wrongful death attorneys, Kirk McCormick and James Murphy, have more than a half century of legal experience and have recovered millions for our clients over the past two decades.