Featured Image Caption: Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death could be caused by negligence or recklessness while driving on the road, practicing medicine, manufacturing products, supervising children, or participating in a wide range of other actions. If you’re an immediate family member like a spouse, parent, or child of a person who is killed, you can sue for monetary compensation for the emotional and financial harm that the death caused. To sue successfully, however, the law requires that you prove these four elements.
Breach of Duty
Wrongful death law requires proving breach of duty for a successful lawsuit. That is, the person being sued must have had an obligation of some kind to the deceased that they did not fulfill. For example, doctors have a duty to properly diagnose and treat their patients. Motorists have a duty to drive safely and protect others on the road. Builders have a responsibility to follow building codes and construct a safe home or building. According to wrongful death law, you must prove that there was a duty and that the defendant breached it.
To get compensation, a surviving family member must prove to the satisfaction of the judge or jury that the death in question was caused by careless, reckless, or negligent actions by the defendant. In essence, you must prove that proper or reasonable care was not being used. The case may involve multiple defendants, and any one of them or all of them together could be found to be wholly or partially responsible.
You must provide evidence showing causation if you want your case to succeed. This term simply means that negligence and breach of duty, not something or someone else, resulted in the death of your loved one. Put another way, the plaintiff must show the judge or jury that if it had not been for the wrong actions of the defendant, the deceased person would not have been killed.
Sometimes causation is obvious. If your loved one died when the defendant’s vehicle crashed into them, the cause of death and responsibility is fairly clear. However, at times, the causation is less obvious and may require background research. For example, if your loved one was in a car accident but then died of a heart attack in the aftermath, there will be debate over whether the heart attack was caused by the stress of the accident itself or by a pre-existing condition.
Finally, the loved one who files a wrongful death lawsuit must show what damages have occurred. This could include medical expenses that you must pay, funeral and burial costs, loss of income or future income, loss of inheritance, and other damages. Additionally, damages can include pain and suffering. In many cases, courts award a much higher monetary amount for emotional distress than for actual expenses, but every case is different.
As the plaintiff, you don’t need a mound of evidence, but you do need clear proof of these four points, which a skilled attorney can help you gather and sort out. Without all four, your case will fail. While no action can bring back a deceased loved one, compensation for wrongful death can help you feel that justice has been served and allow you to find stability, closure, and peace.
By Anita Ginsburg
who is a freelance writer and residing in Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. She recommends talking to a wrongful death lawyer like those at Goicoechea DiGrazia Coyle & Stanton Ltd.