Wrongful death is a type of legal claim that can be filed with someone is killed as a result of the negligence or other misconduct of another. Certain surviving family members of the deceased may be able to bring a lawsuit against the responsible party, and receive monetary compensation for the death of their loved one. Most commonly, wrongful death actions result from automobile, motorcycle and trucking accidents; defective products that cause injuries and death, as well as other types of serious personal injuries. Another basis for a wrongful death claim, that is not quite as common, is for a preventable suicide. Yes, wrongful death claims may include suicides.
A recent wrongful death claim following a suicide
Recently, the family of a student at Virginia Tech settled their lawsuit against the school, for the wrongful death of the student. The family brought a civil action against the university after Daniel Sun Kim was found in his car with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The family claims that the university had warning of the risk that this student might commit suicide, but ignored those warnings.
The troubled story of Daniel Sun Kim
Following the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, when a student, Seung-Hui Cho, went on a shooting rampage, killing 32 other students, and injuring several others, Daniel Sun Kim started being harassed by others who said he resembled Cho. Not long after the harassment started, Kim made outward threats that he would commit suicide. Some of these threats were emailed to a friend, who subsequently informed university officials. The friend also notified these officials that Kim had recently obtained a gun.
Virginia Tech officials and local police questioned Kim, who denied that he was suicidal. Although it was recommended by the university’s counseling center that Kim be invited to a meeting to discuss the claims, no meeting was ever held. Not quite a month later, Kim was found dead sitting in his car in a parking lot.
Preventable suicide as the basis for a wrongful death claim
Kim’s family ultimately filed a lawsuit against the university, based on its failure to follow its own policies and procedures after officials were warned about Kim’s suicidal threats. Furthermore, the university never notified Kim’s family of the situation. The state of Virginia agreed to settle the lawsuit for $200,000, and to establish a scholarship fund of $100,000 in Kim’s name.
Virginia Tech has been hit with wrongful death claims before
Kim’s unfortunate case is only one of at least three other cases involving students who suffered violent deaths while enrolled at Virginia Tech. In fact, there are two other wrongful death lawsuits filed by the families of women killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech attack. Each family made a claim for $10 million in their wrongful death actions.
If you have questions regarding wrongful death claims, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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