According to CDC, suicide was ranked tenth among the leading causes of death in the United States in 2013. With about 13 cases of suicide per 100,000 of the population, it’s alarming to think that so many people would wish to end it all. Although those rates have significantly dropped compared to earlier years, suicide still brings unimaginable pain to those left behind. What could have led the person to such actions? Was it due to emotional or psychological problems? Or were there other factors involved?
As families and friends continue to search for answers, they may find that their loved one’s death was not totally ‘intentional’.
When a Suicide Becomes a Lawsuit
In 2012, then 15-year-old Audrie Pott from San Jose, California was sexually abused by her male classmates after she drunk Gatorade laced with alcohol during a friend’s party. She fell asleep and woke up to find her pants off and her body was covered with vulgar scribbles. Days after the incident, Audrie hanged herself. Her parents, Lawrence and Sheila Pott, filed for a wrongful death lawsuit against three of the boys who were involved with the assault. One was settled out of court this year, because the boy apologized and has ‘accepted responsibility’ for what happened. However, the civil lawsuit is still on for two of Audrie’s classmates for taking part in her suicide.
In such scenarios where an individual or group of people played a role in a person’s suicide, then you may have a case for wrongful death. It could also apply for extreme behavior like bullying – which could have played a part in someone taking his or her own life. Not all states can take on wrongful death based on suicide; but as a general rule, the death should have been caused by the defendant(s) either in whole or in part.
Several people may be accused of wrongful death if proven that their actions (or lack thereof) resulted in an individual taking his or her own life. These include but are not limited to:
Parents. They have the responsibility to care and provide for their children. If they fail in this aspect – and their child commits suicide – they may be held liable; unless their youngster is already above 18. But if their child is still a dependent and/or living under their care, then could still be made accountable.
School Officials. Staff such as counselors and teachers, could be held liable for someone’s suicide if they 1) failed to do something to prevent it; OR 2) failed to communicate to the right authorities (like a suicide help group or the child’s parents) about the individual’s intention.
Health Care Professionals. Medical experts like doctors or psychiatrists could be accountable for a person’s suicide. Factors such as a misdiagnosis or a breach of duty that may have led to the death can be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
What To Do Next
If you suspect that a loved one has committed suicide due to negligence or abuse, contact a local attorney who specializes in wrongful death cases immediately. As it is categorized under personal injury, a civil lawsuit for wrongful death must be filed within two years of the person’s death. Act right away to get your case evaluated by an experienced lawyer.
Sometimes, the need for justice takes on other forms. Don’t let those questions left by your loved one be lost in time. Get answers today. Get help from your local wrongful death attorney.