What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim?
An exploration of the terminology and process involved in prosecuting a wrongful death claim and the elements that might show a defendant's culpability.
The unexpected death of a loved one is something that is difficult to come to grips with no matter the circumstances. However, if that death was caused by the negligence of another person, it can be even more devastating to the survivors of the deceased. In such difficult times, there is very little anyone can do to relieve the grief of the people the deceased left behind. Money certainly will not help to do so but it can ease the burden of those closest to the deceased and help to make sure that they are financially secure.
If a loved one died due to the negligence of another, then their family can make a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim can be made if someone died because of an accident caused by someone else or if they died because of a deliberate act by someone else, i.e murder or manslaughter. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help the family of the decedent file a wrongful death lawsuit so that they can receive compensation to help them bear the financial burden incurred by the loss of a loved one. If you live in the Miami area and have lost a loved one because of wrongful death, ensure you seek out the help that you need.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death suit is related to a criminal charge against someone that caused the death of another. The main difference is that a criminal charge is punitive, meaning that it is about punishing the wrongdoer, typically with fines and/or imprisonment. However, a criminal case does not award financial damages to the family of the deceased. In order to receive damages, they need to file a civil suit, which in this case, is a wrongful death charge.
Who Is Involved In a Wrongful Death Claim?
The person who brings the wrongful death claim is called the plaintiff and the person accused of causing the wrongful death is the defendant. The plaintiff is usually a close family member of the deceased and they usually file the lawsuit on behalf of all the heirs of the deceased. If the deceased person had a will, then the plaintiff is the executor of their estate or a personal representative.
The plaintiff is usually a close family member of the deceased and they usually file the lawsuit on behalf of all the heirs of the deceased.
What Needs to Be Proved in a Wrongful Death Case?
In order for a wrongful death case to proceed and to have a good chance of success, it needs to have the following elements:
Duty of Care. This simply means that the defendant was in a position where they should have acted in a responsible manner to the deceased. It can be something like a doctor owing a duty of care to their patient by prescribing the right medication. Or it could be a driver owing a duty of care to other drivers and pedestrians on the road by driving safely and following the rules of the road.
Breach of Duty of Care. Once it has been established that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased person, it must then be proven that they violated that breach. In the examples above a breach of duty by the doctor could be a misdiagnosis that leads to death. In the case of the driver, their breach could be that they were texting while driving and their distraction led to an accident.
Causation. The plaintiff must prove that the breach of duty was the cause of the passing of the deceased. That means the doctor’s malpractice directly resulted in someone’s death or that the accident caused by the distracted driver resulted in a fatality.
These are the same elements that you would see in a personal injury case, and for the most part a wrongful death case is similar to a personal injury case. The main difference of course is that in a wrongful death case, the personal injury resulted in someone’s death rather than just an injury.
What Is Awarded in a Wrongful Death Claim?
In a wrongful death case the surviving family members receive damages related to the loss of a loved one. This can involve quantifiable monetary damages like the loss of inheritance, medical bills for the period when the deceased was still alive, and funeral expenses. They can also include non-measurable factors like pain and suffering, loss of parental guidance, loss of consortium, and more.
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney If You Have Recently Lost a Loved One
If you have recently lost a loved one due to the negligent or intentional act of someone else, then the last thing on your mind is calling a lawyer. However, that can be a necessary step in addressing the incident since they can help you with your wrongful death claim. That claim may not ease the emotional burden left behind by the untimely death of a loved one, but it can ease the financial burden. So contact a wrongful death lawyer so that you do not have to worry about the financial aftermath of a loved one who was taken from you well before their time.