If you have experienced the loss of a family member or loved one, you are undoubtedly grappling with complex emotions. If your loved one’s death was the result of the careless or intentional actions or inactions of another party, the emotions that you’re grappling with may be even more challenging than they would be if your loss had occurred under different circumstances. It’s important to know that you are not alone. As an experienced wrongful death lawyer can attest, legal professionals and a number of other resources are available to help you understand your rights and options. For example, filing a wrongful death claim, if successful, can help to cover expenses, and to bring some measure of justice to your tragic and preventable loss.
What Will You Need to Prove in a Wrongful Death Claim?
In all circumstances, a wrongful death case is a civil case, not a criminal case. Incarceration of the defendant is not the outcome of a successful wrongful death case, although the defendant sometimes may also be tried in criminal court. If you win your wrongful death case, you will receive monetary damages.
To file a successful wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must be able to prove all of the following.
- Negligence: The plaintiff needs to prove that the injuries that led to their loved one’s death were caused (at least significantly) by the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions or inactions of the defendant.
- Breach of Duty: The defendant must have owed some duty to the victim. One example of duty is that employers are required to provide safety equipment and ensure that their equipment meets safety standards. On the highway, vehicle operators have a duty to follow traffic laws.
- Causation: The plaintiff must prove that the victim’s death directly resulted (in whole or significant part) from the defendant’s actions or inactions.
- Damages: The plaintiff must have experienced quantifiable harm, injury, or loss. Damages might include medical expenses, loss of potential earnings, funeral costs, or loss of inheritance. A wrongful death lawyer will help you to determine the monetary value of the claim based on state-specific calculations concerning damages.
Who Is Empowered to File a Wrongful Death Claims?
Immediate family members of the deceased person are the most typical parties to file a wrongful death claim. In most cases, the plaintiff survivor will be a parent, spouse, or child. Some states allow a more extended family member like a grandparent, aunt, or uncle to file a wrongful death claim. Alternatively, a representative of the victim’s estate can file this kind of claim.
If you believe that your loved one died due to negligence, intentional behavior, or recklessness, your first step is to seek the advice of an experienced wrongful death lawyer. During an initial consultation, the lawyer will help you to establish whether you have grounds for a successful claim.