What Must Be Proven in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Posted June 21, 2021 by in Lifestyle

As you likely know, there is a lot that goes into a wrongful death lawsuit. It is quite a complex process and there is plenty that you have to do throughout this process. One crucial thing that you have to do in a wrongful death lawsuit is to prove your case and this can be much more complicated than you originally thought. It is also important you have a clear idea of exactly what you have to prove in a wrongful death lawsuit, so you know how to proceed properly.

This is what you should know about what you have to prove when it comes to a wrongful death lawsuit:

What Is a Wrongful Death?

Before going into what you need to prove in a wrongful death lawsuit, it is important to discuss what constitutes a wrongful death. The term ‘wrongful death’ is a legal term, and it refers to a person’s death that was caused by either negligence or the recklessness of other entities or perhaps simply other people in general.

In other words, someone’s negligent or reckless action led to another person’s death and the family members of the deceased person are seeking compensation as a result. 

You Must Prove Negligence

There are four different things that you have to prove when it comes to wrongful death lawsuits. The first part of what you need to prove is negligence. The legal definition of negligence in this particular case may differ from its normal usage, so it is important to be clear about its meaning in a wrongful death claim. To prove negligence, you have to prove that the recklessness, negligence, or careless actions of the defending party led to the death of your family member.

This recklessness, carelessness, or negligence may have wholly caused the death or partially caused the death. If you can prove that either way, you have proved negligence.  

You Must Prove Breach of Duty

Another element of what you need to prove in a wrongful death lawsuit is that you need to prove some kind of breach of duty. Many people often think of this when it comes to wrongful death lawsuits that involve a doctor’s medical malpractice, for example.

This is one example, but only part of it. You have to prove that the defendant had some kind of duty to the deceased person first and foremost. After that, you have to prove that they breached that duty as a result of acting negligently. 

You Must Prove Causation

In addition to proving that the defendant breached their duty to the deceased person and that they acted negligently, you also have to prove that their actions led to the deceased person’s death, as well. This is one more step in the process of a wrongful death lawsuit.

Naturally, it is a crucial part of the overall process since it involves establishing the connection between the defendant’s actions and the wrongful death in question. You have to prove that the defendant’s negligence led to the death of your loved one. 

You Must Prove Damages

As any wrongful death lawyer will tell you, you also have to prove that you suffered damages of some sort as a result of the wrongful death. These damages also have to be quantifiable in order for you to prove them in a wrongful death lawsuit. These damages can appear in a number of different ways.

Some examples of quantifiable damages include medical expenses, hospitalization, loss of protection, and loss of income and potential earnings as well. Funeral and burial costs and the deceased person’s pain and suffering before they died are all part of quantifiable damages, as well. 

What Are Some Common Causes of Wrongful Death?

You will find that there are many possible causes of wrongful death. However, a few examples of wrongful death causes that are common are medical malpractice, birth injuries, criminal actions, and even automobile accidents. All of these qualify as common causes of wrongful death. You may also find that occupational hazards and exposure, motorcycle accidents, and adult care are common causes of wrongful death, too.

One unfortunately common cause of wrongful death is abuse and neglect in a nursing home or in an assisted living facility. 

What Is Your Burden of Proof?

A wrongful death lawyer will inform you that the burden of proof is lower in a wrongful death lawsuit compared to a criminal case because a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action. This is correct. When you are talking about a criminal case, the burden of proof is much higher and requires that the defendant’s guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. However, this is not the same standard for a wrongful death lawsuit.

A wrongful death lawsuit instead requires that you prove your case on the preponderance of all the available evidence rather than proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.