After someone injures you in an accident, you can bring a personal injury claim against the at-fault party and request payment for your losses. In the tragic case when a loved one dies as a result of someone’s negligent or reckless behavior, the surviving family members may bring a wrongful death claim.
While standard personal injury claims and wrongful death claims are similar in some regards, the people involved and the legal damages they can seek are different.
For example, in some states, you may need to appoint a personal representative of the estate to bring the action on behalf of the surviving spouse and dependent family members
Also, not all accidental deaths qualify for a wrongful death claim. As you decide whether to bring legal action for the death of your family member, you need to know how to prove wrongful death in a court of law. A wrongful death lawyer near you can do that.
How Can You Prove a Wrongful Death Claim?
When it comes to proving a wrongful death claim, the legal requirements and burden of proof are the same as a typical personal injury case. Wrongful death cases are civil lawsuits that require proving four legal elements to succeed.
The party that brings the lawsuit (the plaintiff) must provide evidence sufficient to meet the civil law burden of proof.
What Is the Burden of Proof for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The burden of proof is lower in civil lawsuits than in criminal cases. A civil plaintiff need only provide evidence that shows, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant breached their duty of care and caused the damages requested. This means that the defendant is more likely than not responsible for the accident that caused the decedent’s death and, therefore, the resulting losses.
How is a Wrongful Death Claim Different From a Personal Injury Case?
While both legal actions involve some sort of accident or situation that harms a person, the major differences between a personal injury case and a wrongful death claim are the identity of the person bringing the action and the damages requested.
Who Can File a Personal Injury Action?
A personal injury claim must be brought by the person who was injured to seek compensation from the person or other entity that negligently caused the injury. However, in some personal injury cases, the injured person is unable to file a claim on their own behalf.
For example, if the injured person is a child or someone with a legal incapacity, a parent or representative can bring the action on their behalf.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Action?
When someone dies as a result of an accident or other negligent behavior, they obviously cannot bring legal action on their own behalf. The law allows the family members or an estate representative to bring a wrongful death action on behalf of the person who died instead. Check with a knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer to understand your state’s requirements.
What Damages Are Available in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Claims?
In a personal injury case, the injured person can request compensation for many types of financial losses, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Future costs for medical care
- Future lost income potential
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of life enjoyment
In a wrongful death claim, the decedent’s surviving family members or their representative can request financial compensation for certain losses, including:
- The decedent’s final medical bills, including hospitalization
- Funeral expenses
- Costs related to burial or cremation
- Loss of income, wages, benefits, etc.
- Loss of future potential earnings
- Loss of family relationships, including the protection and guidance the decedent would have provided
- The decedent’s pain and suffering before they died
- Loss of other financial support the decedent would have provided
What are Some of the Possible Causes of Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death can be caused by many of the same situations that lead to personal injury claims, namely:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle collisions
- Truck crashes
- Bicycle accidents
- Bus crashes
- Catastrophic injuries
- Construction accidents
- Slip and fall incidents
- Product liability cases
If someone you love was injured and died as a result of their injuries, turn to a skilled personal injury lawyer to learn more about protecting your legal rights.
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How a Wrongful Death Claim May Be Resolved
Most wrongful death claims are initiated by filing a claim with the responsible person’s insurance company or bringing a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court. A dedicated wrongful death attorney can help you through both processes.
Bringing an insurance claim – Your legal team will investigate the circumstances to gather important evidence and determine all parties who may be responsible and which insurance companies are involved. Your lawyer will then prepare a detailed demand letter to support your claim and negotiate with insurance adjusters or opposing counsel to see if the claim will settle.
Filing a lawsuit – An experienced wrongful death attorney will file your wrongful death lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out. They will serve documents on all responsible parties and engage in discovery to exchange relevant information for the case.
Many lawsuits also involve the filing and arguing of motions and mediation or arbitration in an attempt to settle the case with the court’s assistance.
To improve your chances of winning a wrongful death claim, you will need:
- A solid legal strategy
- Strong evidence to prove who is at fault, possibly including:
- expert analysis and testimony
- Eyewitness testimony
- accident reconstruction
- photographs and video
- A devoted legal team with a thorough understanding of the law that applies to wrongful death cases.
To Learn More About What is Needed to Prove a Wrongful Death Claim, Contact Berry Law
After losing a loved one, the last thing you want to think about is bringing legal action to recover the money you need to pay for your financial losses. To allow you the time you need to grieve, trust the personal injury attorneys at Berry Law to handle the legal matters related to your loved one’s accident.
During a free consultation, we can explain the legal process and what you need to prove a wrongful death claim. We can help investigate and create a legal strategy to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Call us at (402) 226-5908 or fill out our online contact form for your free consultation and case review.