November 23rd, 2020| When a person is fatally injured because of someone else’s negligence, surviving family members might consider filing a wrongful death claim to get compensation for their losses. Because someone’s life was lost and a family is forced to deal with the consequences, so much is at stake in these claims. Proceeding with a wrongful death claim requires plenty of evidence and proof. But what does it take to prove wrongful death?
Proving Wrongful Death: The 3 Basic Elements of a Wrongful Death ClaimTo win a wrongful death case, claimants (those who file the claim) must first prove that certain elements exist. Those three elements are:
- Duty of care—This means that the party allegedly at fault for the death had a responsibility toward the safety of the deceased. If a wrongful death occurred in a car accident, then the duty of care was following traffic laws. If the death occurred in the workplace, the duty of care would be that of the employer to keep employees safe.
- A violation of that duty—If duty of care is established, the claimants must prove that the duty wasn’t carried out by the at-fault party. Using our car accident example, a driver might have breached the duty of care when they drove while intoxicated. For a workplace death, the employer might not have provided the appropriate safety equipment to their employee.
- That breach of duty caused the death—Finally, the claimants must prove that the violation of duty caused the death. For example, a driver collided into the deceased because they were intoxicated, or the employer’s failure to provide safety equipment caused the worker’s death.
What Evidence Is Used to Prove Wrongful Death?Wrongful death attorneys will often look for hard evidence to prove that the deceased’s passing was caused by the negligence of another party. For wrongful deaths in vehicle accidents, this could include:
- Obtaining the police report
- Interviewing witnesses of the crash
- Consulting experts about the potential causes of the crash
- Reviewing any available footage of the crash
- Interviewing coworkers or other potential witnesses of the incident that led to the worker’s death
- Obtaining security camera footage of the incident
- Consulting experts to prove the negligence of the employer
- Reviewing other breaches of the employer’s duty of care to look for a pattern of negligence