When someone passes away, it takes an emotional toll on their family. Moreover, it can lead to financial hardship. Fortunately, laws in every state can help ease financial problems if a person is legally responsible for causing the victim’s death.
What must you prove to be eligible for damages? Discover more information on wrongful death claims.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit filed by a plaintiff for monetary damages. If another person’s negligence causes someone’s death, the surviving family members can file a civil lawsuit requesting damages from the negligent party. Once they file a lawsuit, they must prove several elements of the wrongful death claim before they can receive damages.
Continue reading to find out what you must prove to receive compensation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The person who files the civil lawsuit is called the plaintiff. In a wrongful death case, the plaintiff is usually a family member who brings the claim to court on behalf of the deceased person’s heirs.
The negligent person is known as the defendant. In law, negligence is a failure to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury or loss to another person. The claim will allege the defendant acted negligently or intentionally and was responsible for the victim’s death.
Establishing Proof in a Wrongful Death Case
Not only does the plaintiff need to prove the defendant acted negligently, but they must also prove said negligence caused the victim’s death. They must present the following three elements:
- Duty of Care: The plaintiff needs to determine the defendant owed a duty of care to the victim. For instance, if the victim passed away due to a car crash, the plaintiff is responsible for proving the defendant had an obligation to obey road rules.
- Breach of Duty of Care: Moreover, the plaintiff must prove the defendant neglected their duty of care. In the car accident example mentioned above, they must show the defendant didn’t follow traffic laws, which is a breach of their duty of care as a driver.
- Causation: It’s not enough for the plaintiff to prove the defendant broke the law or breached their duty of care. Additionally, they must also show the defendant’s actions directly resulted in the victim’s death.
Let’s say the defendant ran a red light in the aforementioned car accident example. They may not be found responsible for the victim’s death if it was caused by another factor, such as a mechanical failure in the deceased person’s car.
To prove each of the above elements, the plaintiff must also meet the burden of proof. The court will ask them to prove the elements of negligence based on preponderance; this places the focus on having convincing evidence, rather than quantity.
Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton Is Here for You
No matter the circumstances, losing a loved one, is a terrible experience. At Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton, we know nothing can erase the pain of losing someone dear to your heart. However, filing a wrongful death claim can help you hold those responsible accountable for their negligence. Our compassionate wrongful death attorneys are here for you. Schedule a free case evaluation when you’re ready.