How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is devastating for families. You are coping with the loss of a loved one while trying to sort out the financial impact of your loss and how to move forward. Without an attorney by your side, making a wrongful death claim can be difficult and emotionally draining.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death means that someone has died due to an act of carelessness or violence. Not all deaths, even accidental deaths, meet the criteria for a wrongful death claim. Possible causes of wrongful death include birth injuries, medical malpractice, motorcycle crashes, commercial truck crashes, automobile crashes, workplace injuries, product defects, nursing home negligence, daycare mishaps, or criminal acts of violence. Wrongful death claims are civil, as opposed to criminal cases; as such, the burden of proof is not as high. Instead of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, a wrongful death claim can be won based on a preponderance of evidence, meaning more than 50%.
What Needs to be Proved in a Wrongful Death Case?
The four elements that need to be proven are:
- Breach of Duty
This means that the defendant owed some sort of legal duty to the victim. In the case of a car crash, every motorist owes a legal duty to drive safely and follow traffic laws. In a medical setting or a nursing home, every medical professional has a legal duty to his or her patients to provide care according to accepted standards. Before you can bring a wrongful death claim, you first need to prove that a legal duty existed based on the relationship between the parties.
This means that the defendant caused the death by carelessness, recklessness, or negligence.
You will need to prove how negligence caused the death.
These are the quantifiable damages that occur because of the death. Proving these amounts requires careful documentation, and the retention of various expert witnesses.
What Are the Damages You Need to Prove?
There are many things you will need to prove to properly establish damages when you file a wrongful death claim. Among them are:
- Conscious pain and suffering by the deceased.
- Medical and funeral expenses.
- Lost income and support.
- Potential loss of inheritance.
- Loss of society, which includes loss of companionship, consortium, care, assistance, attention, protection, advice, guidance, counsel, instruction, training, and education.
- Lost services and household needs.
- Out-of-pocket expenses.
How is the Amount Calculated?
Compensation for the loss of a loved one is calculated by first documenting the known losses, and then coming up with projections for future losses. Much of this requires first gathering medical evidence as to what occurred to the victim, and then retaining various experts who have the proper credentials the law requires. Once all the losses have been properly documented, the monetary damages associated with the death can be tabulated. This figure is determined, it will become the basis by which your pain and suffering damages are calculated. Your lawyer is the one who will oversee the gathering of the necessary documentation, and the retention of the necessary experts.
You Need an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney
Proving these points in a wrongful death claim will require an experienced lawyer who understands the laws and will provide strong persuasive evidence. The credibility and quality of the evidence is important in determining the outcome of your wrongful death case, and an experienced attorney is able to build a case to show that your burden of proof is met.
Wrongful death cases can be complicated, and the emotional impact of the case can cloud your judgment. Therefore it is critical to have an experienced and knowledgeable attorney by your side to help you through the process.
Working through a wrongful death case when you’ve lost a loved one can be extremely overwhelming. Your family is grieving and it’s hard to sort out the legal process without the help of an experienced attorney. We understand your rights, and your loved one deserves justice for what happened. If you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one and you suspect it was due to someone else’s negligence, contact Arthur Law Firm (419) 782-9881 for a free consultation today.
We know what you’re up against, and we can help.