From extreme water intoxication to death on the set of the Walking Dead, wrongful death suits stemming from peculiar circumstances often occur.
Wrongful deaths are considered those that could have been prevented, but neglect, recklessness, or purposeful action was involved. Many of the most prominent cases are ripe with controversy, and the 6 on our infographic are prime examples.
The biggest wrongful death suit on our list involved tobacco’s heavy hitter, R.J. Reynolds, who was ordered by the courts in Florida to pay $23.6 billion to the widow of a man who died of lung cancer.
In the case, the plaintiff proved that the tobacco company knew the dangers of smoking, including cancer and death, and attempted to hide the facts from the public. In the end, the Supreme Court reduced the ruling to $16.9 million.
In another controversial wrongful death case, Jim Carrey was accused of contributing to the suicide of a woman in which he was having an affair.
Most wrongful death suits, however, are settled relatively quietly and do not involve newscasts and tabloid magazines. The most common wrongful deaths cases are DUI-related or medical malpractice fatalities.
In fact, according to the Institute of Medicine, 98,000 Americans die each year because of a preventable medical error. This number trumps the more than 40,000 motor vehicle fatalities.
Fortunately, the courts protect us and ensure justice when a death occurs due to neglect or recklessness.