A wrongful death claim or a lawsuit is one filed against someone who’s directly or indirectly responsible for the death of the decedent. Usually, this is a claim initiated by surviving family members or relatives following the law’s order of priority on survivorship.
As simple as it may sound, proving and winning a wrongful death claim can be challenging. After all, the victim is no longer physically present to speak for themselves. It’ll be a long trial to prove with no doubt that the respondent is responsible for the death of your loved one and that you have a valid claim against the respondent.
With that being said, here are five tips you can use to help you win your wrongful death claim.
1. Prove All The Elements Of A Wrongful Death Claim
First, no wrongful death claim can prosper if any requisite elements are absent. To obtain compensation for it and to win your claim, your attorney will have to prove these elements:
- Duty of Care. This means proving that a duty of care was owed to your loved one who passed away. In simpler terms, any reasonable person would expect the defendant in your claim to exercise a certain level of care and caution. For example, the doctor did all necessary tests and developed a proper diagnosis, or the negligent driver obeyed traffic laws.
- Breach of duty of care. Now that you’ve established a duty of care, it’s important to prove there was a breach or careless acts caused by someone else. In the example above, the doctor came up with the wrong diagnosis. In the case of the negligent driver, they were heavily intoxicated while driving.
- Causation. After proving the presence of duty of care and that it was breached, it’s time for you to show the court that the breach of duty of care is the direct cause of your loved one’s death.
- Damages. Lastly, the attorney will ask the court for compensation concerning the damages you’ve suffered because of your loved one’s wrongful death. For instance, you’re the surviving spouse with two minor children, and the decedent was the breadwinner. Depending on your local laws, a part of the damages you’re entitled to receive relates to the loss of income due to your spouse’s death.
2. Hire A Wrongful Death Attorney
The elements enumerated in the first section above are difficult to prove without a lawyer acting on your behalf. So many legal and technical matters come into the picture, hence the need to be cautious about getting every aspect right. On top of that, recalling the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death is already very emotionally painful and stressful as it is.
To that end, you must work with no less than the best wrongful death attorney. Their skills and expertise can make a lot of difference in making the entire process simpler and easier. Most importantly, winning your wrongful death lawsuit becomes significantly higher when you have a lawyer.
3. Prove That Damages Due To The Wrongful Death Exists
Your claim for the wrongful death of a loved one becomes stronger by presenting evidence against the negligence and showing that damages did occur to the family.
Some of the most common examples of damages you can rightfully claim include:
- Loss of consortium
- Pre-death suffering of your deceased loved one, also known as ‘survival claim’
- Loss of love and companionship
- Cost of medical treatments spent before the decedent’s death
- Loss of guidance and care that the deceased would’ve been able to provide had they not died
- Loss of the decedent’s expected income.
4. Show Evidence Of Intention
Providing evidence in court that there was, in fact, an intention by the respondent to cause the wrongful death is another effective means of strengthening your claim. Murder and wrongful death often go together, but they are different cases treated differently by the court.
Murder is a capital offense. Wrongful death, on the other hand, comes into the picture when the respondent may have been acquitted of the murder charge but can still be liable for wrongful death.
5. Avoid Fighting With Other Family Members
This tip may go without saying, but it’s still worth emphasizing. The stressful situation the family now has to face can often send emotions on the rise. This can lead to tension among the surviving family members, which may complicate the wrongful death claim even more.
Avoid fighting with other family members so that you can be on a united front. The court needs to see this. It’s unnecessary added stress to deal with conflict within the family when all that energy could’ve been placed on focusing on the case at hand instead.
Wrongful death is always an unfortunate situation, but it’s also not as rare as you might think it is. Negligence can happen deliberately, so there’s so much room in the courts for litigations and cases related to wrongful deaths.
With all the facts stipulated above, the most important point to remember is to hire a lawyer to help prove wrongful death. You’ll want to win this, bring justice to your deceased loved one, and ensure the best outcome out of a terrible situation.