How To Prove Wrongful Death
One of the greatest tragedies many of us will suffer is the death of a loved one, especially if it was a sudden and untimely loss. The emotional impact alone is devastating not to mention the financial impact on surviving family members who relied on their loved one’s income. No amount of money will alleviate your suffering. However, by filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you may at least gain resources to recover and help you move forward without having to think about financial hardship.
What is wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death claim exists when a person passes away due to the legal fault of another individual. If someone is killed due to the negligence of another, the survivors may sue for wrongful death.
A wrongful death claim may be the result of a number of circumstances including:
- Medical malpractice
- Auto collisions
- Occupational exposure to hazardous conditions or substances
- Criminal behavior
- Death during a supervised activity
Who can pursue a wrongful death claim?
In most cases, a surviving family member of someone who passed due to the negligence of another may pursue a lawsuit and seek damages from the negligent individual. This includes a spouse, immediate family members, children, or the personal representative of the deceased’s estate.
The person bringing the lawsuit is called the “plaintiff.” The person who the lawsuit is being filed against is called the “defendant.” A wrongful death case claims that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of the deceased’s untimely, wrongful death.
How to prove a wrongful death
For the lawsuit to prevail in court, the plaintiff must prove the elements of the wrongful death claim. The elements are the duty of care, the breach of the duty of care, and the causation of death.
Duty of care. The first thing the plaintiff will need to prove is the defendant’s duty of care owed to the victim. For example, in a traffic accident wrongful death case, it must be shown that the defendant had an obligation to drive carefully and safely by obeying the traffic laws. Drivers, doctors, employees, property owners, product manufacturers, along with other individuals and entities are all parties that may have owed the deceased person a duty of care.
The breach of duty of care. The second thing that needs to be demonstrated is how the defendant breached the duty of care owed to the deceased person. Using the same example of a traffic accident wrongful death case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached the duty by driving without care for others sharing the roadways. The defendant was either speeding, drunk driving, ran a stop sign or anything else that was not obeying traffic laws.
Causation of death. The last element in a wrongful death claim would entail the plaintiff proving that the breach of the duty of care was ultimately the cause of the wrongful death. For example, if an individual has terminal cancer and passes away from related causes, it would not be likely that the family has a case against the doctor.
Damages. The plaintiff must prove that the victim’s wrongful death resulted in damages, such as:
- Financial loss including loss of the deceased’s income and what the deceased would have contributed to all family members
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of companionship, love, and comfort
- The value of lost services the deceased provided such as, child care, home maintenance, advice, support, and guidance
A plaintiff also needs to meet the “burden of proof” with a “preponderance of the evidence” to prove each of the three elements in a wrongful death claim. This simply means that the plaintiff needs to prove it is more likely than not, that the deceased person died because of the defendant’s negligence.
Do I need a Wrongful Death Attorney?
Wondering how to prove a wrongful death? Legal skill is necessary in wrongful death cases. You will need tangible evidence that shows your loved one passed due to someone else’s negligence. An experienced Wrongful Death Attorney will have the tools and knowledge needed to investigate the cause of your loved one’s death thoroughly. Police reports, witness interviews, and analyzing physical evidence are not easy to come about without the help of an attorney.
Keep in mind the defendant will most likely have an attorney or insurance company working on their behalf as well. They will try to reduce or eliminate their responsibility by manipulating facts and covering up important evidence. Insurance companies are known for refusing to pay for damages claiming the defendant acted beyond the limitations of the policy.
You don’t have to go through this alone. Protect your family from the hardships this tragic loss can cause by bringing those responsible to justice with the help of an experienced attorney.
How The Carlson Law Firm can help
Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we understand how painful it is to face the difficulties after such a tragic loss which is why we want to help. If a loved one has been killed by a negligent act, don’t hesitate to contact The Carlson Law Firm. Our Wrongful Death Attorneys will do everything possible to ensure you and your family receive the fairest compensation available. We will be by your side every step of the way. We are available 24/7.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation. We care, we can help.
- Written by Adriana Torres