Wrongful Death

There is no tragedy that a human being can face that cuts deeper than the death of a loved one. A loss that is nearly unbearable on its own is made even worse with the knowledge that it was caused by actions that could have and should have been prevented. Any death that occurred due to the negligent or irresponsible actions of others can fall under the category of wrongful death. When a wrongful death occurs, those left behind can pursue compensation for pain and suffering, loss of income, and other economic and emotional factors.

The law firm of Lewis & Tompkins helps families in Virginia, Maryland and DC effectively pursue damages involving wrongful death claims. If you are seeking legal guidance in this complex area of the law, contact our offices today.

Common Examples of Wrongful Death Drunk Driving

In 2004, over 16,000 people were killed on our nation’s roads and highways in alcohol related accidents. A person who gets behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol is obviously not just putting himself in danger. Drunk driving is a criminal and reckless act that has taken the lives of thousands of innocent and responsible drivers.

Defective Products

Manufacturers of any product have a responsibility to the general public to ensure that there are no dangers from its use. Unfortunately, there are several examples where this wasn’t the case. Ignorance of the dangers of materials used, inferior and faulty assembly, or sometimes simply naked greed have been the contributing factor to thousands of product related deaths.

Asbestos: For years, contractors and construction and textile manufacturers used this cancer-causing material in their products. Asbestos damage can have a latency period of up to thirty years, and tens of thousands of construction and mill workers died of asbestos-related illnesses before Congress outlawed its use in 1970.

The Dalkon Shield: In 1971, the A.H. Robbins Company released this Inter-Uterine Device (IUD) to American women with an enormous marketing campaign. At the height of its popularity, close to 3 million women were using the device. Within a year, A.H. Robbins was receiving complaints of women suffering from pelvic inflammatory disease and tubal infertility, as well as cases of ectopic pregnancies and septic abortions. After twelve Dalkon Shield-using women died, the device was finally pulled off the market in 1974. The fault lay in the design of the device, which left women vulnerable to bacterial infections.

Dangerous Drugs: When pharmaceutical giants Merck and Pfizer both developed a so-called “super aspirin” that could ease arthritic pain without the common stomach ailments that were common in similar medications, the marketing blitz was enormous. Both companies spent billions of dollars in advertising, and arthritis sufferers everywhere were told in magazines, newspapers, radio and television to ask their doctors about Vioxx or Bextra. But both Merck and Pfizer covered up in-house studies that indicated that heart patients who took these drugs were risking an increased chance of heart attacks and strokes. The marketing campaign continued unabated for years while Merck and Pfizer stonewalled the FDA and buried the damaging reports. While there isn’t anything wrong with marketing a decent product, sacrificing the safety of your customers in order to gain a bigger market share is unforgivable. Merck finally pulled Vioxx off the shelves in 2004, while Bextra, which also has been linked to severe and sometimes fatal skin diseases was only recently recalled in late 2005.

Unstable Buildings

The main priority of architects, contractors and inspectors should be the safety of the public. Anything else is a secondary concern. A contractor that takes shortcuts or uses faulty equipment is putting innocent lives at risk. Building owners have responsibilities as well, and neglecting them can prove disastrous.

The Hyatt Regency Hotel, Kansas City, Missouri: The Hyatt Regency Hotel was supposed to be the crown jewel of a massive urban re-development project. The most impressive aspect of the design was the enormous lobby, which had two levels of balconies that surrounded all four sides of the room. Rather than use traditional methods of support, the architect called for the balconies to be suspended from the ceiling by one and half inch steel rods. Upon completion of construction in 1979, the hotel held a ball in the lobby, complete with a jazz orchestra. Disaster struck when one of the balconies, which were neither adequately built nor properly supported, snapped loose from the ceiling and fell on top of the crowded dance floor. The result of this criminally shoddy planning and construction was 113 dead and 186 injured.

Park Avenue Collapse, Brooklyn, New York: A building that had a long record of safety violations collapsed on May 2, 2005. The owners of the building had made plans to demolish the building but failed to follow through in a timely manner. The collapse of the building led to the death of a woman who was shopping at the corner market next door.

L’Ambiance Plaza, Bridgeport Connecticut: L’Ambiance was intended to be a sixteen story apartment building with thirteen levels of housing and three levels of parking garages. On April 23, 1987, an upper level slab broke free of its moorings and fell onto the slab below. The extra weight was enough to cause a domino effect, and the entire structure collapsed within 5 seconds. This accident caused the death of 28 construction workers. Investigators determined that while the planning of the building was structurally sound, the safety standards used during the construction procedure were insufficient.

Misdiagnosis

The advent of the HMO controlled hospital has resulted in a sharp decline of the standard of care for patients. Many hospitals are now run with profitability as a priority as opposed to the well being of those under its care. Expensive tests are kept to minimum, and as a result thousands of patients are misdiagnosed every year. Many diseases have similar symptoms, and the chances of making the correct diagnosis are diminished dramatically if the doctors are discouraged from doing a thorough investigation. Timely and thorough tests are crucial in effectively treating these conditions, and a proper diagnosis can literally be the difference between life and death.

Breast Cancer: While a mammogram is a remarkable medical advancement, it is not an infallible machine. The early stages of breast cancer does not always show up in the results, and even women with breast lumps have been given clean bills of health from mammograms. Other tests exist that can show the existence of the disease, but quite often, doctors simply rely on the results of the mammogram in order to save costs.

Lung Cancer: While lung cancer mostly occurs in smokers, cases of the disease have occurred where the patient does not use tobacco at all. Too often, misdiagnosis occurs when the doctor examines the patient history and finds no use of tobacco, and therefore attributes the symptoms to another cause.

Colorectal Cancer: This disease has been frequently misdiagnosed as a less severe condition, such as a colon polyp, hemorrhoids, or irritable bowel syndrome. A failure to follow up on early tests has led to patient deaths.

Heart Attack: Cardiac arrest can very easily be misdiagnosed, especially if it occurs in a patient who is under the age of 40. Heart attacks have been misdiagnosed as digestive tract problems, respiratory illness, or musculoskeletal pain.

Appendicitis: The appendix is a part of the large intestine. It has no apparent function, but is entirely capable of becoming infected or diseased. An untreated burst appendix could very easily result in the death of the patient. The main symptom of appendicitis is abdominal pain, which is unfortunately a common symptom in many other diseases. Viral infection has been shown to be a cause of appendicitis, and a less than thorough examination of patient history can be the cause of misdiagnosis.

The law firm of Lewis and Tompkins has brought justice to the families of wrongful death victims for over four decades. We know that the emotional damage brought to your family is only one of the many concerns. Loss of income, support and stability can be devastating and ruinous to a family, and the tragedy can be multiplied by evictions and foreclosures.

Insurance companies usually employ various stalling tactics in order to frustrate the claimant into settling for far less than they deserve. The attorneys of Lewis and Tompkins know that time is crucial; the insurances companies can afford to wait you out, but you certainly can’t afford to do the same. We can cut through the delaying tactics and lowball settlement offers. Everyone who loses a loved one has to rebuild their life. That shouldn’t include recovering from bankruptcy.

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