To improve your chances of winning a wrongful death suit, you need to prove that someone breached their duty of care towards you, resulting in substantial damages.
There are four aspects to a wrongful death lawsuit that need to be proven to raise your chances for compensation:
- The guilty party’s duty of care
- Their breach in duty
- How their actions caused your damages
- Amount and severity of your damages
The more evidence you can provide to support each claim, the stronger your chances of winning your wrongful death lawsuit.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit comes from suing an individual, company, or legal entity over their negligent or malicious actions. These actions then caused the untimely death of a loved one.
Wrongful death claims often fall under personal injury, but other claims like nursing home abuse can file for wrongful death too. If you feel someone’s negligent or reckless actions caused your loved one’s death, you may qualify for this claim.
How to Prove a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In order to prove a wrongful death lawsuit, there has to be four aspects present in your claim. It’s highly recommended to hire a personal injury attorney to represent you in a court of law.
Wrongful death cases often have large payouts because the value of a human life is almost unquantifiable. That is why insurance companies want to minimize your settlement as much as possible, to recoup their losses. A personal injury attorney will make sure your settlement adequately covers your losses.
Your evidence should cover the following criteria in a wrongful death lawsuit:
Duty of Care
Duty of care refers to the legal responsibility a reasonable person has to prevent harm to others. This can take the form of stopping when the traffic light is red, or following the speed limit when driving at night.
To prove duty of care in wrongful death, you need to establish that a legal responsibility was present. If someone was drinking while driving and killed another person, the driver violated their duty of care in driving responsibly.
When a driver’s brakes fail and causes the accident instead, there may not be duty of care involved. If the driver reasonably took care of their brakes, the wrongful death may be circumstantial and not caused by a breach in duty of care.
Gather as much evidence as possible to prove that a duty of care was present in your wrongful death case. Examples of evidence to gather include:
- Witness testimonies
- Input from experts
- Medical records
- Police reports
If a duty of care existed in your case, you can increase your chances of winning in your wrongful death suit.
Breach of Duty
Proving that a duty of care existed in your wrongful death claim is the first step. You need to also prove that a breach of duty occurred due to the defendant’s negligent or malicious actions.
In the drunk driver example, their actions caused a wrongful death because they breached their duty to drive while sober. It’s a legal requirement to operate a vehicle under a certain BAC limit. Their excessive negligence caused this loss of life to occur.
Proving the defendant’s breach of duty may be difficult if they attempted to perform their duty but failed. An example would be if a police officer attempted CPR on someone, but the procedure failed and the person died. The defendant may argue that they did not breach their duty of care and their injuries caused their death.
Showing causation in your wrongful death suit means proving that the defendant’s action or inaction caused the loss of life. This requires medical records, witness testimonies, and a skilled personal injury attorney to bring the information together.
The actions of the defendant must have caused, or significantly contributed to the death for your claim to be valid. Without that, the defendant can claim it was natural causes that caused the accident. They may claim it was out of their control and the death would’ve occurred despite their actions.
The last step in raising your chances of winning a wrongful death suit is proving that significant damages were sustained. This can take the form of economic damages like losing earning capacity after the death of a working family member. It can also be non-economic damages like the emotional distress of losing a loved one.
Examples of damages you may suffer from a wrongful death include:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Lost earning potential
- Loss of consortium
- Medical bills
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Because non-economic damages are non-tangible, you especially need an attorney to properly convey the damages you suffered from wrongful death. Don’t let the other side downplay your losses to reduce the settlement they owe you. The more evidence you can gather to prove the severity of your damages, the better.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Laws regarding who can file a wrongful death lawsuit vary state-by-state, but generally family members and spouses can file this type of claim. If the deceased had no family members, their estate can file a wrongful death claim.
When Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim may be filed before the statute of limitations ends in your state. The statute of limitations is a deadline that restricts personal injury claims from being filed outside this due date. Wrongful death claims often have a different due date than personal injury claims, starting at the date of the death.
What Affects My Chances of Winning a Wrongful Death Suit?
To raise your chances of winning a wrongful death suit, you need to file your claim as soon as possible. This will avoid your state’s statute of limitations and will keep the evidence fresh for your wrongful death suit.
The strength and amount of evidence you bring to the courtroom will affect the validity of your wrongful death suit. Certain states like Connecticut have different wrongful death laws that either favor plaintiffs or defendants. Know your state’s laws to better discuss your case with your personal injury attorney.
Understand your defendant’s liability to your case to gauge your chances of winning your wrongful death suit. The less liability the defendant can claim, the less of a chance you can win a big settlement for your losses.
Improve Your Chances With a Personal Injury Attorney
You may have the strongest evidence possible to raise your chances of winning a wrongful death suit. It may seem obvious for you to win damages for such a tragedy. But if you don’t have a personal injury attorney representing you, the defendant may find holes in your injury claim.
The best way to improve your chances of winning a wrongful death suit is to hire a personal injury attorney. LegalASAP has 500+ law firms across the United States ready to represent you in your state. To start a free consultation, call 888-927-3080 or fill out the short evaluation form below:
Jan Reburiano is a content writer and SEO specialist for law firms focusing on personal injury, disability, employment law, among other practices. He has written and edited numerous articles and created commercial spots for broadcasters that you can find in his LinkedIn. Jan currently lives in Los Angeles, California while writing for clients from around the United States.