Wrongful death – whether caused by a workplace accident, vehicle accident, or some other circumstance – is devastating to the victim’s family. The pain and suffering of loved ones, the struggle to make ends meet with less income, and the responsibility to pick up the pieces is a lot to handle. Claiming compensation for wrongful death is possible, but it can be extremely difficult. If handled incorrectly, the party who caused the wrongful death can walk away scot-free, leaving the family scrambling to pick up the pieces.
Just as in most personal injury cases, duty of care, breach of duty, and causation need to be proven in order to win a wrongful death case. Here is what needs to be established in order to prove wrongful death after an accident:
Duty of Care
A plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant owed the deceased person a “duty of care.” This can range from a driver having a duty to follow traffic laws to keep other drivers safe to a manufacturer having to make sure their products are free from deadly flaws. If a duty of care cannot be established, then the death likely won’t fall under the wrongful death category, meaning that the case is more than likely going to get thrown out.
The Breach of Duty
Next, the plaintiff needs to be able to demonstrate that the defendant neglected this duty of care. For example, someone driving recklessly on the road is breaking their duty of care by disobeying traffic laws and creating hazardous conditions for other drivers. In car accident cases, a police report and evidence taken from the damaged vehicles are often enough to prove a breach of a person’s duty of care to another.
Causation of Death
Finally, you must be able to prove that there is a direct link between the breach of duty, the accident, and the cause of death. If these links cannot be proven, then a plaintiff’s claim of wrongful death may not have any standing within the court system. For instance, a driver who was speeding was breaching their duty to follow safety laws. This breach resulted in a collision with a bicyclist who was crossing an intersection. The driver, who was speeding, barrelled through their stop sign and collided with the cyclist, causing them to die immediately on impact. This would be a provable causation.
Burden of Proof and Preponderance of Evidence
In order to successfully prove a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff needs to be able to prove that the deceased would “more likely than not” be alive if the defendant had been acting competently. For civil cases, the burden of proof is lower than criminal cases, in which there has to be no room for reasonable doubt.
The court process can be stressful during a wrongful death claim. You need the expert opinion and counsel of Hernandez Law Group to help you gain the compensation you deserve. Juan Hernandez is one of the 2% of personal injury attorneys who is Texas Board Certified in personal injury law. Call Hernandez Law Group today for a consultation for your wrongful death case.