In the last seventeen years, the number of suicides in the United States has increased thirty percent. That breaks down to about 16 out of every 100,000 Americans committing suicide, or close to 45,000 lives lost in 2016. Researchers cannot specifically point to one cause, however, mental health issues significantly contribute to these numbers.
When an individual takes his or her own life, it profoundly affects the lives of their family and friends forever. What happens if someone attempts to commit suicide and their efforts injure or damage someone else in the process? If you know someone or you personally have been injured as a result of someone else’s suicide or attempted suicide, contact a personal injury lawyer Wytheville, VA trusts to discuss if there is anyone you can hold liable for your injury or property damage. There are several ways to approach filing a claim.
A Claim Against the Estate of the Deceased
One of the most common means of pursuing damages after a suicide is to file a claim against the estate of the decedent for damages caused to you or your property as a result of their negligent act. These claims are intricate, can take an enormous amount of time and require legal expertise to obtain a successful resolution. Claims against a deceased person’s estate are treated as part of the possible debt of the estate.
The Use of Firearms
A firearm or other type of lethal weapon is obtained by an individual and used to attempt to commit suicide. During the attempt, they either accidentally or on purpose, kill or injure another individual. If the person attempting to take his or her life is successful, the other injured party may not have any legal recourse — especially if the weapon was legally owned by the individual.
If the suicide attempt is unsuccessful, the individual could possibly be up against civil and criminal charges. The courts may even charge them with attempted murder, or murder if the other individual dies as a result of their injuries.
If someone attending a party at someone else’s home attempts to commit suicide and during the process causes extensive property damage, can the homeowner file a claim and if so, against whom? If the individual was a guest of another invited guest, the homeowner may try to file a claim against the invited guest. This is difficult to hold water in court because the homeowner must prove that the invited guest had prior knowledge that his or her friend had suicidal tendencies in order to win the claim.
Because every suicide case is different, there are not many civil actions taken because of harm or damage done as a result of the suicide. That does not mean it is inconceivable to think you cannot hold someone else accountable for the damaged cause. In order to win a claim, the plaintiff has to prove that someone else did not perform the reasonable duty of care in their actions. A personal injury attorney can help you determine whether or not you have a case worth pursuing.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt for their insight into personal injury cases.