Wrongful Death FAQs
The term “wrongful death” is a legal term that refers to the death of an individual who lost their life because of the negligent, careless, reckless, or malicious actions of another person or entity. In general, immediate family members have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim. Compensation might include funeral and burial costs, any medical treatment prior to the death, loss of income, loss of consortium, mental and emotional distress, and in some cases, punitive damages. These cases tend to be challenging and should only be pursued with an experienced wrongful death attorney, like a wrongful death attorney in Charlottesville, VA.
What You Will Need to Prove
Before compensation can be made, a wrongful death lawyer will need to demonstrate the following:
- Negligence – Only when some degree of negligence, carelessness, wrongdoing, or malicious intent exists can a wrongful death case be filed. What this means is that the death could have been prevented had it not been for the wrongful actions of the defending party.
- There was a breach of duty – A case can only be successful when a wrongful death lawyer can demonstrate the defendant owed the deceased a duty of care. For instance, the driver of a truck has a duty to follow the rules and laws of the road. A doctor must adhere to their standard duty of care. A restaurant must ensure their patrons are kept safe from potential dangers. If a duty was broken or not adhered to, it may be considered a breach; therefore, compensation may be available.
- Causation – If a wrongful death lawyer can prove there was a breach of duty, he or she will then need to demonstrate the breach was the actual cause of the death.
- There were damages – It must also be shown that the death led to economic and non-economic losses. These may include medical bills, funeral costs, loss of income and future earnings, loss of protection and guidance, loss of a relationship, loss of inheritance, emotional anguish, physical pain, and so forth.
A wrongful death lawyer may call upon expert witnesses and utilize a broad range of resources to prove the elements of a case.
The Most Common Types of Wrongful Deaths
A wrongful death can occur in many different ways. However, most involve at least one of the following:
- Workplace accident
- Automobile accident
- Medical malpractice
- Birth injury
- Product defect
- Nursing home abuse
- School accident
- A criminal act
A wrongful death claim is a civil case which means demonstrating the burden of proof is not as complicated as a criminal case. Some of the tasks a wrongful death lawyer might have include:
- Developing a case strategy
- Investigate the case
- Gather witness testimony
- Call upon expert witnesses
- Draft a demand letting
- Negotiate a settlement
- Recover damages
In the event the last two are unsuccessful, your claim may become a lawsuit. Regardless of what happens, and what the circumstances of the case may be, you should have a wrongful death lawyer on your side.
Thanks to MartinWren, P.C. for their insight into what kind of evidence you need to have proof for a wrongful death case.