What Are the Elements of Wrongful Death?
Regardless of whether death comes after a diagnosis or happens suddenly, it is a traumatizing event. If you are enduring pain from the loss of a loved one because of an accident or a medical error, we want to express our sympathies. We also want to help prevent this horrific loss from becoming a massive financial loss for your family.
Is your family experiencing the hardship of a wrongful death? If so, perhaps you are wondering how you can prove that a company, a manufacturer, or another party is responsible for the loss of your loved one. Phillips Law Group can help you.
Our attorneys understand what is needed to prove that a wrongful death has occurred. Please get in touch with the personal injury lawyers at Phillips Law Group. You can call us at (800) 706-3000 or fill out our online form to speak with one of our attorneys.
The Four Elements That Compose a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death case can come about for many different reasons. However, negligence or irresponsibility caused the accident in all cases. The at-fault party could be a single person, a company, or a combination of both.
Establishing negligence in a wrongful death lawsuit requires proving that four key elements existed in the case of the accident. These main elements are:
Let us examine each of these four elements in closer detail to understand how they may relate to your wrongful death case.
First, it must be established that the defendant, the liable party, whether a person or company, owed a certain duty of care to the victim. The principal idea in this concept of duty is that the defendant is obligated to perform (or avoid) certain actions to maintain a safe environment for other persons.
A few basic examples of individuals that can demonstrate the idea of “duty” include the following:
- Drivers – The driver of a vehicle has a responsibility to drive his or her car in a safe manner and avoid an accident to a reasonable degree. Drunk driving would be an example of breaching that duty.
- Employers – An employer must provide employees with a safe working environment and proper job training.
- Health care professionals – Medical personnel have the responsibility to demonstrate care that other trained professionals would show in a similar situation.
These are only a few examples of the duty of care that must be demonstrated in some situations. Depending on the exact circumstance of the accident, the duty of care may be defined differently.
The next crucial element is the breach of the duty of care. Once the clear connection between the defendant and the plaintiff is confirmed, the evidence must be secured that the duty of care was breached or unfulfilled. Breach of duty can happen either deliberately or inadvertently.
The definition of a breach of duty is when someone does or does not do an action that a “reasonably prudent” person would perform. What does the legal term “reasonably prudent” mean? In simple terms, it is an expression used to describe how an average, intelligent, and conscientious person would behave.
The specifics of a breach of duty can change depending on the situation. What stays the same, though, is that the person who made the breach of duty will have acted in a way that is atypical, although aware that his or her actions could have dangerous consequences.
One example of breach of duty is when a driver fails to stop at a stop sign. All drivers have a duty to be obedient and follow traffic laws. It is both reasonable and typical that drivers obey this law.
In addition to establishing duty and breach of duty, the third required element in a wrongful death case is “causation.” What does this term mean?
Once established, causation shows that the negligence of the defendant is directly linked to the death of the victim. Additionally, it must be clear that, with a reasonable effort, the guilty party could anticipate that their negligence would endanger other persons.
Although the word causation and its definition can seem difficult to understand, a simple example can help clarify this point. Suppose Vehicle A passes through a stop sign without stopping. To avoid Vehicle A, Vehicle B slams on his brake and stops. Behind Vehicle B is Vehicle C which has failing brakes, and Vehicle C crashes into Vehicle B.
Although Vehicle A did make a breach of duty, the causation between the crash and the injuries it causes are not directly linked because of the issue of the faulty brakes in Vehicle C. In summary of this point, it must be clear that the breach of duty and the injuries are directly related.
Once the three above-mentioned elements are confirmed, the fourth essential component, damages, can be addressed. “Damages” refers to the funds that will be paid out to the plaintiff. The plaintiff can receive compensation for costs that he or she has sustained because of the accident and the wrongful death.
What Damages Can Be Recovered?
The process of determining damages in a wrongful death claim can be complex. One key component in the process is quantifying the financial loss to the estate of the victim. What does this include?
The following are among the most common factors used to determine the amount of compensation the estate of the victim should receive:
- Funeral costs
- Burial expenditures
- Medical bills related to the emergency care of the deceased
- The monetary worth of the deceased’s lost wages that he or she would have earned
- Pain and suffering the deceased experienced before he or she died
- Property damages resulting from the event that caused the deceased’s death
Additionally, family members could obtain compensation for:
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
There may be unique compensation awarded in the case of a child who has lost a parent. Damages could include compensation for the missing guidance the child will experience due to having lost a parent in a wrongful death accident.
In some cases, punitive damages may be sought as well. If the court discerns that the guilty party displayed notably irresponsible or egregious behavior, which resulted in wrongful death, then punitive damages may be imposed. The goal of such a penalty is both to punish the guilty party and to discourage and prevent similar actions in the future.
How a Skilled Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help You
The pain and grief after losing a loved one can be overwhelming. At this time, don’t make the complications and process of proving the elements of wrongful death an added burden. You should turn to Phillips Law Group for help.
Our attorneys, knowledgeable and skillful in this area, can serve as the relief you need. The wrongful death attorneys with the Phillips Law Group have the competence and wisdom to help you in identifying and proving the elements in a wrongful death case.
Please get in touch with the personal injury lawyers at Phillips Law Group. You can call us at (800) 706-3000 or fill out our online form to speak with one of our attorneys.
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