A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil proceeding which allows the family of those killed in an accident to sue for damages. When a family member dies in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, that loss may result in a financial burden for a spouse, children, or parent. In that situation, suing for damages may be allowed, but it requires proving the other party's liability in court.
How Liability in Proven in a Wrongful Death Case
In establishing that another party can be held liable for the death of the individual, there are three conditions that must be met. These three elements involve establishing that the party had a duty of care, that they breached that duty, and that the breach caused the death of the individual.
While your personal injury attorney may take on the responsibility of proving these elements in court, it can help to have a deeper understanding of each.
Duty of Care
This simply means that the individual or entity had a responsibility to ensure the safety of the individual. In a car accident, the party responsible for the accident had a duty to follow the traffic laws. In a work environment, an employer has a responsibility to ensure working conditions are reasonably safe.
Breaching the Duty of Care
The duty of care can be breached either through negligence or through intent. For instance, driving recklessly may be considered an intentional breach, whereas failing to clean a spill in a grocery store constitutes negligence. In either case, the duty of care has been breached.
It's also essential to prove that the breach of the duty of care was the cause of the death. In some situations, such as a car accident, the individual who caused the accident may not be liable for the death. Mechanical failure's in the decedent's car, unsafe road conditions, or other factors may have more directly caused the death.
What Damages Can Be Collected in a Wrongful Death Suit?
Once your personal injury attorney is able to establish liability, he or she will also have to justify your request for damages. This means showing that you and other members of your family suffered economic hardships relating to the death of the individual.
Damages will likely include the costs for any medical care the deceased person received prior to his or her death. There may also be a request to cover the cost of funeral services and burial arrangements.
Beyond those immediate costs, your lawyer may also request damages to cover the loss of income resulting from the death, the pain and suffering experienced by the individual, and the loss of inheritance. Damages may additionally be awarded to compensate for the emotional loss, the loss of guidance or companionship, and the loss of consortium. Your lawyer can provide a more detailed list of damages that your specific situation entitles you to receive.
Get The Legal Help You Need
If you do need a personal injury attorney to handle your wrongful death lawsuit, contact the Stern Law Group. Our experienced legal professionals will offer you a consultation that outlines the strength of your case and what outcomes you may be able to expect.
While the loss of your loved one is an emotional hardship, you should be compensated for the economic burden the situation has created. Our attorneys can help you recover financially, so you can focus on your grief and recovering from the emotional loss.