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Child's estate awarded $10.7 million for wrongful death

One can only imagine the unspeakable grief of suffering a child's death in an accident that might have been prevented. A court outside Wisconsin recently determined that such was the case concerning a baby who died after suffering serious burns from bathtub water. After a week-long trial, a verdict awarded the substantial monetary judgment to the 18-month old girl's estate, holding the water heater manufacturer liable for her wrongful death.

The baby's father filed the claim after the tragedy that eventually led to his child's demise. He asserted that many water heaters include anti-scalding valves as standard features. It was further alleged that the manufacturer's failure to include the anti-scalding valve on the water heater model installed in the child's home constituted negligence that became a causal factor in her death.

The baby died several months after suffering second degree burns from water that police determined to have been between 134 and 138 degrees fahrenheit at the time. She underwent nearly 20 surgeries to try to heal the injuries that covered almost half her tiny body, but those efforts proved unsuccessful. Her father said he had never before witnessed the water becoming so hot in his family's bathtub, and that if the proper features had been included as integral components to the system, it would not have been possible for it to reach such high temperatures.

Many fatal tragedies have occurred because of similar product design defects. Others in Wisconsin have suffered the untimely deaths of loved ones in car accidents caused by negligent motorists, or through acts of violent crime. In all such cases, a spouse, parent or adult child who survives a decedent is able to act on behalf of that loved one to file a wrongful death claim against anyone deemed responsible for the death.

Source: chicagolawbulletin.com, "Jury awards $10.7M in scalding death", Lauraann Wood, Aug. 1, 2016

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