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How Hard is it to Prove Wrongful Death?

November 3, 2021 By Flora Templeton Stuart

Wrongful death lawsuits depend on the availability of the evidence. Some cases are clear cut, such as when there is camera footage that shows a store attendant walking past a spill that causes their head injury. Other cases, however, are complicated to prove. Cases like medical malpractice, semi-truck accidents, and product defects are complex and require a seasoned wrongful death attorney to obtain maximum recovery. Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury lawyers have 45 years of experience and have won millions for our clients.

No matter what caused your loved one’s death, the challenge comes in proving that the other party owed a duty to care and was negligent causing the death of a loved one. You’ll need expert evaluation, a statement from witnesses, a thorough investigation, and supporting evidence. The defendant’s family has to prove that the wrongful death was due to third-party negligence. Finally, there must be ample insurance to collect, such as a commercial trucking company.

The four elements of negligence in a wrongful death

Wrongful death is when the death of an individual occurs due to the negligence of a third party. Wrongful death cases occur in different ways but most of them occur due to car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents.

There are four vital elements in a wrongful death case that you must prove to get financial compensation. For you to succeed in a wrongful death case, you have to prove that the other party was at fault and caused the death. The surviving family members have to prove the four elements. It is critical to work with an experienced attorney to guide you through the entire process and help you get the best results. The elements are:

Duty of care

You have to prove that the party at fault owed your loved one the duty of care. The definition of care varies depending on the facts of the case. The duty of care refers to a person’s or company’s responsibility to keep other people safe. The nature of the obligation depends on the circumstances. An example of duty of care is where a property owner must provide safe premises for the residents. The property owners have to ensure that the property is safe and does not have any hazards. A commercial trucking company must obey safety regulations.

Working with an attorney for your wrongful death case will give you peace of mind. Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers will analyze the accident to identify if the party at fault owed a duty of care to your loved one. Negligence is vital in wrongful death claims. You’ll have to prove that the death of your loved one was due to recklessness, carelessness, or negligent acts of another party.

Breach of duty of care

After establishing the duty of care, you’ll have to show that there was a breach of duty of care. For example, a property owner who is aware of a dangerous condition in their property but doesn’t take the necessary steps to do the repairs which result in the death of a resident will be found to be in breach. The deceased family has to show that duty was owed and how the duty has been breached, such as a trucking company’s violation of federal regulations causing the death.

You will also have to prove that the person responsible for the death of your loved one owed them a duty of care. There must have been some kind of relationship. Some examples of that show a person owes another one duty of care is the following:

  • Physicians owe their patients quality medical care.
  • Manufacturers owe consumers safe products which will not cause them harm.
  • Drivers are responsible for following the traffic rules. A driver must drive safely and not cause any accidents on the road.

Causation

Once the breach of duty has been proven, you’ll have to establish that there was a cause for the wrongful death. You are also required to prove that the defendant’s negligent act led to the death of your loved one. For example, if your loved one died due to a car accident, you’ll have to prove that the death was caused by the accident.

Economic and non-economic damages

The final thing you have to prove in a wrongful death case is the damages incurred as a result of the wrongful death. You can prove damage by presenting the evidence to demonstrate the loss of economic help that you have suffered. You will be compensated for any expenses associated with the funeral service as well as the medical bills.

You can also get non-economic damage that you and your family suffer due to the death of your loved one. The non-economic damages could be loss of spousal services and loss of parental guidance. If you can prove the above four elements, you will qualify for financial recovery for the death of your loved ones. When you add up all the damages, you’ll get the final settlement amount. The family of the dead victim needs quantifiable damages. The damages include:

  • Burial costs
  • Loss of income decreased over life prior to death by deceased
  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of companionship
  • Emotional anguish (spouse and minor children)
  • Pain and suffering decreased before death

Proving the above damages in court requires you to provide evidence with experts such as an economist for lost income and medical experts for loss of life.

[RELATED POST]: How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

Understanding your state’s laws

State laws in wrongful death cases vary from state to state. One of the laws is on who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Kentucky and Tennessee allow the victim’s children and spouse to sue for compensation. In all states, the personal representative appointed by the court can sue on behalf of the deceased estate.

The other important factor to consider is the statute of limitations. Every state has a statute of limitations for wrongful death cases. The limitations restrict the time that survivors can file a claim for wrongful death. However, different statutes of limitations apply in cases that involve medical malpractice. In Kentucky, you have two years from the date of the accident in a car accident case to file suit, and up to one year in other personal injury cases. In Tennessee, you have only one year to file a wrongful death lawsuit regardless of the type of accident.

Hire a lawyer to prove wrongful death

Flora Stuart Inspecting Crashed VehicleOnce you have all the four elements ready, you can start proving your wrongful death case in court. You don’t have to go through the stress of collecting the evidence when you can hire an experienced attorney to do it. The attorney will help you through the process of collecting the evidence but will also represent you in court.

Whatever the case for wrongful death, it is hard to prove the case. Therefore, you should get the help of experienced personal injury lawyers. You’ll need compelling evidence to prove the four elements of wrongful death. A lawyer will help you get all the needed evidence to support your case. The lawyer will also file the wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf. Your lawyer will handle everything so that you can focus on healing.

Flora Templeton Stuart has 45 years of experience representing families who lost a loved one in a wrongful death case. We never charge a fee unless we win and offer free case evaluations. We travel to our clients throughout Kentucky and Tennessee and take calls 24/7. Call us at 888-782-9090 or chat with an experienced attorney today.

Author Photo

Flora Templeton Stuart

Flora Templeton Stuart is the lead attorney and founder of the law firm Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, established in 1976. Flora goes to work every day to make a difference in her community and the lives of her clients. When you call you will get a personal representation and an attorney who truly cares.