5 Important Elements Of A Wrongful Death Case
When you lose a close family member such as a spouse, a child, sibling or parent in what could have been a preventable accident, speaking to an attorney about filing a possible wrongful death claim is likely in your best interest.
In legal terms, ‘wrongful death’ is the terminology used to describe the death of any individual due to the reckless behavior or negligence of a third party or entity. When this happens, the people closest to the victim may have the ability to obtain financial compensation if they file a claim with the courts. This claim, however, has to meet certain requirements to warrant any merit.
Wrongful death elements
Because the courts have to be fair and operate within the law, you cannot simply walk into a court room to file a wrongful death claim and hope that it will be enough. There are strict requirements put in place to help ensure that these laws are not abused by vindictive and self-serving individuals looking for unjust paydays.
The following are important elements of any wrongful death case that should be reviewed by an experienced attorney.
The very first thing that the surviving family members need to prove is that their loved one’s death came about as a result of careless and reckless behavior, or negligent actions of the defendant. To prove negligence, the suing party needs to show that the defendants were negligent and responsible for the death.
In proving negligence, the affected party must show that the defendant’s actions were not in keeping or good standing with typical safety behavior set forth by their specific industry standards.
2.Breach of duty
To fully demonstrate the defendant was in breach of duty, the surviving family or their representative needs to prove that there was a duty of care owed to the victim. A good example would be that any driver on the road owes everyone else using the road a duty of care to drive carefully and to obey all traffic rules.
A doctor owes his or her patients a duty of care to maintain their health to the best of their ability and in keeping with industry standards. In these cases, the plaintiff has to show that there was a duty of care owed and that because of the defendant’s action and negligence of that duty, the wrongful death of their loved one occurred.
Furthermore, the plaintiff must prove that the death of their loved one was as a direct result of the negligence and actions that led to the breach of duty by the defendants. Whether that negligence led to injuries that led to death or the defendant’s reckless behavior resulted in the instant demise of the victim is a burden that the plaintiff must carry and prove before the courts.
The entire point of wrongful death claims is to bring about some sort of financial reprieve and consolation to the victim’s family. It is not enough to name arbitrary numbers such as $1 million. The plaintiff needs to bring quantifiable evidence before the court showing how much damage the death of their loved one has caused both financially and emotionally. These will include things like medical expenses and hospitalization bills, loss of income or potential earnings, funeral and burial costs, loss of protection, emotional distress to the family (typically quantified by therapy session receipts).
Spouses, children, and parents all make up the list of people who are more often than not eligible to receive compensation in a wrongful death case. The idea is to seek compensation, usually financial, for losses brought about by the wrongful death of their loved one.
To successfully bring about a claim of this nature, you need to have the above mentioned 5 wrongful death elements reviewed by a skilled legal professional.
Ted Kaplun is a partner at KaplunMarx personal injury attorneys.