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Wrongful Death

What is a wrongful death claim, and when is it appropriate?

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The recent tragic story of an accidental gun death on the set of Alec Baldwin’s latest movie has been making headlines, and raising a lot of questions about safety standards and potential negligence on the film set. A prop gun that Baldwin was rehearsing with accidentally fired, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding the film’s director, Joel Souza. Questions about who was at fault for the accidental gun discharge and the death of Hutchins are being investigated, and depending on what the authorities find it is possible that criminal charges could be filed and/or civil lawsuits for wrongful death pursued.

Here at Burnett & Williams we sometimes get questions about wrongful death, and when a wrongful death claim can be pursued. The simple answer is that a wrongful death claim can be filed by someone close to the individual who was killed if the death was the result of a third party’s negligence. In the Alec Baldwin case, the authorities will look into whose job it was to maintain gun safety on the movie set, and whether that person or those people are at fault for Hutchins’ death. Whose job was it to check that the gun did not have any live ammunition in it?

There are many situations in which a wrongful death claim can be filed. However, wrongful death claims are most common in medical malpractice cases where the patient has died as a result of medical error, or in the aftermath of a fatal car accident where another driver is at fault. Unfortunately, those cases (especially auto accidents resulting in death) happen far too frequently to attract the kind of national attention drawn by the Alec Baldwin case.

If someone you know or love has been killed in an accident and you think that someone else’s negligence contributed to the tragedy, please contact us to discuss your legal options.

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