Wrongful death is a type of personal injury lawsuit that someone can file to help compensate a person who loses a loved one due to someone else’s negligence. To claim wrongful death in a court of law and receive compensation from a guilty party, there are four things you have to show.
Wrongful death is determined by the doctrine of negligence, which means that someone has to directly do something that led to the death of your loved one. It could also mean that a person failed to do something and it was that failure to act that led to your loved one being killed.
Anyone who was financially dependent on an individual that dies because of the fault of someone else is eligible to sue for wrongful death. This could include a spouse, parent, or the surviving children of the person who died. The person who files a wrongful death suit must be financially dependent on the person who dies and show that:
- There was negligence on behalf of the person that they are suing
- There was a breach of duty on the part of the person they are suing.
- The plaintiff must show that there was causation.
To win a wrongful death suit, the plaintiff must show that there was a relationship between the deceased and the person they are suing. If they can prove that there was a relationship and that the defendant had an obligation to act in a specific way or was responsible for caring for the deceased person and failed to do so, it is a breach of duty. It is not sufficient enough to show that the defendant’s actions were negligent. The plaintiff must also prove that it was the negligent acts of the defendant that led directly to the death of their loved one
The plaintiff must show that they suffered damages as a result of losing their loved one. The plaintiff must be able to quantifiably show the court that as a result of the person dying, there was a financial loss on behalf of that person’s dependents. Both economic and noneconomic damages are tallied in a wrongful death suit.
What is the burden of proof?
Since a wrongful death suit is decided upon in civil court and is not a criminal case, the burden of proof is much less strict. Unlike a criminal case where the opposing lawyer would have to show that there is evidence beyond reasonable doubt of a crime, the lawyer in a wrongful death suit has merely to show that there is overwhelming evidence that the defendant is guilty of negligence to win the case. The neglect does not need to be proven beyond doubt.
The most common causes of wrongful death lawsuits
Although there are a vast number of ways that someone can be found guilty of negligence leading to wrongful death in civil court, there are some common things that typically result in a wrongful death lawsuit. They are:
- Product defects
- Birth injuries
- Medical malpractice
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Trucking accidents
- Occupational hazards and exposure
- Premises accidents
- Shootings, stabbings, violence or criminal activities
- Any supervised activities like adult care, a field trip or daycare
- Nursing home neglect
- Assisted living neglect
Why hiring the right lawyer is important
Although the burden of proof is lower for wrongful death suits than in other types of lawsuits, that does not mean that wrongful death suits are easy to prove in court.
To hold someone accountable for the death of your loved one, you do need an experienced wrongful death lawyer who can pull off a winning case. Finding one that is compassionate, understands how difficult the process of a wrongful death suit is on the family and listens well is critical. Having the right attorney is the only way to make it through wrongful death suits, which are sometimes long and arduous.
If your loved one died accidentally and well before their time, you might be eligible to recover what you lost financially when you lost your loved one. Find a lawyer who is an expert in wrongful death civil cases to see if you are eligible for compensation.