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Family of drowning victim files wrongful death suit

An accidental death can be devastating for friends and family members. But the loss can be even more tragic when the loss occurs during a festive and happy celebration, as any wrongful death attorney knows.

Several months ago, a 73-year-old woman left a party to smoke outside, and did not return. It turns out she fell into a freezing creek on the property of the man hosting the party and drowned. The woman's adult sons recently filed a wrongful death suit against the property owner for negligence in failing to warn of the danger posed by the creek. The lawsuit states that the woman went to smoke on a bench outside the house, and that the bench was very near a drop-off that went into the creek. According to the filing, there was no barrier or other separation between the bench and the creek.

A wrongful death lawsuit can be brought by the representative of the victim's estate, which is often immediately family members, including children or siblings. A wrongful death cause of action arises when a person's death was caused by the negligent actions of another person. In most of these types of cases, courts will award monetary, or pecuniary, damages. These damages cover medical and funeral expenses. In addition, the surviving family may get damages for loss of support or loss of services. Generally, the amount of damages is determined by looking at the age and condition of the victim at the time of death.

In this case, the woman's body was found the day after the party, and was determined to be an accidental death. As part of the negligence claim, the lawsuit also states that the party host should have known that the combination of the quantity of alcohol served at the party, with the fact that the drop-off into the creek was so close, would have made the victim "especially vulnerable to a fall" into the creek.

Source: abc27.com, "Sons of Pa. drowning victim sue property owner," May 16, 2013

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