If someone else’s negligence resulted in a loved one’s death, surviving family members may pursue a wrongful death claim for monetary damages against a defendant. The plaintiff can be a spouse, partner, or close family member or heir of the deceased. A civil claim, a wrongful death lawsuit requires proving the named person or group directly caused a fatality.
But what must you prove in a wrongful death case? An accident attorney understands all the legal guidelines for proving your case, including:
Duty of Care
For a wrongful death case to be established, the plaintiff must prove the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased person. An example of duty of care is the obligation of a motorist to obey traffic laws, or a property owner’s duty to maintain their premises or warn visitors of hazards. Due care refers to anything someone can do to keep someone else safe. In a wrongful death case, a judge determines if a defendant owed a duty of care, not a jury. In doing so, they’ll examine public policy, whether the harm occurred, and if the defendant’s actions or negligence and the damages claimed to have occurred were connected.
The Duty of Care Was Breached
If there is a duty owed to the plaintiff by the defendant, it must be proven that duty was breached. In short, you must prove the defendant acted without ordinary care. This means proof their speeding, running a red light, or failure to obey traffic laws triggered a car accident that caused the death. Jurors must be convinced the facts presented are more than 50% likely to be truthful.
Proving a breach of duty directly resulted in death can be challenging. It must be proven the defendant’s car struck the decedent, and not another vehicle that hit the person before their car was involved. Causation can involve complex issues. Whether the decedent had been seriously wounded before the crash may be a factor. If the crash caused by the defendant killed the person, a jury may find them responsible. But if the driver ran a red light, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some other cause of death. Proving the defendant broke the law isn’t enough to prove a wrongful death occurred.
Wrongful death cases differ from other negligence cases in that the damages are self-explanatory—the injured person died. In other cases, one might prove the existence of breach of duty and causation. However, the plaintiff might lose the case if they can’t prove real harm occurred or don’t have enough evidence.
Wrongful death and survivor statutes were not created by state legislatures until the 19th century. Before then, a legal claim for damages caused by another person’s negligent or intentional acts could only be brought by the person injured. Family members and heirs could therefore not sue for any damages. Since the introduction of wrongful death laws, they can be compensated for damages including a loved one’s lost financial support, funeral expenses, medical care, and pain and suffering.
Call FCA Legal Funding Today
However, pursuing a wrongful death case can be time-consuming and expensive. To ensure you’re duly compensated for tragic losses, legal funding in Los Angeles is available. With non-recourse lawsuit funding, you can receive cash to pay for daily expenses, and not pay anything up front. At FCA Legal Funding, you owe nothing back unless your case wins, and repayment comes out of your settlement amount. To learn more, call 310-424-5176 or apply online today!