If someone’s death was caused due to the negligence of someone else, then that person might be liable for paying for the loss that the survivors experience in the deceased person’s wake. The surviving family is allowed to pursue a civil case for wrongful death, which is a tort case.
Although each state has specific rules regarding how wrongful death cases are handled, there are specific things that need to be proven to win your case. To win your wrongful death suit you need to prove four crucial elements.
Wrongful death is determined based on the doctrine of negligence. Negligence is when someone does something that directly causes something else to happen or does not do something, and it was that failure to act that directly that led to an accident.
In a wrongful death suit, the plaintiff needs to show that the defendant behaved negligently, and that it was their negligence that led to the loss of someone’s loved one.
- Breach of duty
The second element to winning your wrongful death suit is to show that there was a relationship between the deceased and the defendant that constituted a duty. The defendant must have had a relationship that obligated them to act in a specific way toward the deceased or obligated them to protect the deceased person from harm. To win the lawsuit, you have to show that the defendant breached their duty.
The third element that you have to show to win your wrongful death suit is causation. This basically means that you need to prove that it was the defendant’s breach of duty that led directly to your loved one losing their life. There has to be a direct chain of causation from the defendant’s breach that led to the deceased person losing their life. Correlation is not enough.
To win a wrongful death suit, you have to show that there were clear and quantifiable damages that you sustained as a result of losing your loved one. For wrongful death cases, you are entitled to both economic and noneconomic damages.
You are entitled to compensation for things like hospital bills, loss of income, medical costs, lack of any future earnings, loss of protection and any other economic losses that you suffered as a result of the death of your loved one. You are also entitled to noneconomic damages like compensation for pain and suffering or, in cases where someone loses their spouse, loss of consortium.
What is the burden of proof?
If someone stands trial in criminal court, the prosecutor has an obligation to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. For civil trials, the burden of proof is much less strict. You don’t have to show that the defendant in the case is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You do have to show that their actions led to the death of your loved one by casting doubt on the actions of the defendant’s actions.
To win your wrongful death suit, you will also need to hire an attorney that specializes in wrongful death claims. They will ask that you supply them with the documentation necessary to win your case. Medical bills and calculations of your lost loved one’s salary are all necessary components that your lawyer will need to prove your case in court.
Why it is important to file a claim quickly
Each state has something called a statute of limitations that applies to how long a person has to file a claim in court for a wrongful death suit. In most states, you have either two or three years from the time of death to file a claim.
If you don’t file within that time frame, then you will lose your ability to be compensated for your loved one’s death. The only way that the time can be extended is if there is new discovery in the case. If you couldn’t have known that someone was negligent at the time of death, but negligence was discovered after the fact, then it is possible to restart the clock.
If you suspect that your loved one’s death was due to someone or something else, it is imperative to file a suit as soon as possible and contact an attorney to help you fight for justice.