How can you prove wrongful death in a civil case? Every state has specific laws that govern such claims.
If you believe that the death of a loved one was caused by someone else’s negligence, then you have a right to bring a civil lawsuit seeking damages from them. There are some specific guidelines that you must follow in regard to the process controlling the lawsuit and the nature of the wrongful death claim.
Definition Of A Wrongful Death In A Civil Case
A civil suit differs from a criminal charge in that criminal charges result in a fine or imprisonment while a civil suit results in awarding of monetary damages to the surviving family members after their loved one’s wrongful death.
Who Is Involved In A Wrongful Death Civil Case?
The plaintiff is the person bringing the wrongful death civil lawsuit. This is usually a person who is closely related tothe family members of the deceased. If the person who died had a will, the court will appoint a personal representative of the estate and in most cases, it is the plaintiff who is appointed.
The defendant is the person who the lawsuit is brought to. The lawsuit alleges that they acted negligently and will be held liable for the untimely death of the deceased person.
What You Must Prove In A Wrongful Death Case
Before any damages can be awarded for wrongful death in a civil case, there are certain things that you must prove in the wrongful death claim. You must show the court that the person responsible for the untimely death was negligent. Below are some of the elements that you must prove:
1. Causation: it is not enough for you to show that the defendant broke the law in one way or another. You must show that they performed a particular action that resulted in the wrongful death of your loved one. Therefore, even if you are able to prove that the defendant, for example, ran a red light, they will not be held responsible for the deceased’s death if there is enough evidence to show that the deceased’s vehicle had a mechanical failure that could have contributed to the accident.
2. Breach Of Duty Of Care: you must prove that the defendant breached their duty of care. For instance, if there was a car accident, you have to show that the defendant broke all applicable traffic laws such as speeding, etc.
3. Duty Of Care: you must prove that the defendant was obliged with duty of care to the deceased. Still on the car accident scenario, you must prove that the defendant was obligated to obey traffic rules while driving their vehicle.
What Is Burden Of Proof In A Wrongful Death Case?
Each state may define their burden of proof differently. Most of them, however, require you to prove the three elements of negligence by a “predominance of the evidence”.
In a criminal case, the burden of proof is much higher than that of a civil case. In a criminal case, the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. Burden of proof is simply a measure of the credibility and quality of the evidence presented. Therefore, providing more witnesses than the defendant can to prove wrongful death in a civil case doesn’t mean that you have met the burden of proof. If you do not meet the burden of proof on the three elements of negligence, then you won’t be able to recover damages.
Who Gets Awarded Damages In A Wrongful Death Civil Suit?
The court will look at many factors that surround the relationship between the deceased and the surviving family members when determining what type of damages to award. Damages in a wrongful death case are awarded to:
1. Parents: damages are usually awarded to parents of minor children who have passed away and not adult children. This is usually an award to help them recover damages from a lost relationship they had with the deceased child and their emotional trauma.
2. Children: minor children are also awarded for their lost relationship with the deceased and to offer them support and comfort. Adult children are usually not awarded.
3. Spouses: surviving spouses are also awarded for emotional trauma and lost companionship caused by the death of the deceased.
Hire A Wrongful Death Attorney
We would like to help you during this difficult time and help you bring justice to the responsible parties. Get in touch with one of our Kevin P Landry Law Offices wrong full death claim lawyers by calling 401-751-010 or visit our Providence offices for a free initial consultation