When you’re being confronted with the suicide of a loved one, you may search for possible reasons why he or she would do such a thing. Typically, those reasons are due to the person’s unhappiness or mental illness; however, sometimes a person can be pushed to commit suicide, or become more suicide-prone than normal. So could another person be liable for someone else’s suicide and what are the legal claims which cover this situation?
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Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by the family or estate of the person by proving the defendant’s intentional or negligent acts led to the person’s suicide, along with the emotional distress suffered by the family or estate due to the death. The wrongful death claim would need to establish that the person would not have committed suicide without the coercive acts of the defendant. For example, many wrongful death claims have been filed by parents who have lost their child to suicide due to bullying, placing the blame on both the bullies and the schools.
The family must also determine the foreseeability that the deceased person would commit suicide as a result of the defendant’s action or inaction. How much time has passed between the defendant’s actions/inactions and the deceased person’s suicide is another factor to consider. No definitive rules exist when it comes to civil liability after a suicide, so building a strong and sound argument is imperative.
There are some studies which link specific medications which have been proven to increase the risk of suicide. Product liability law states that drug companies can be held liable for dangerous side effects. Manufacturers of medications have a legal obligation to warn users or intermediaries about known side effects and are open to being sued if they fail to properly inform and alert their clients.