When a loved one dies, immediate family members are left with heartaches that never seem to heal. The death of a loved one especially becomes difficult to handle when it is caused by negligence. While seeking compensation for the death cannot bring back the lost life, it does bring needful closure to the family and a sense of justice. Understanding wrongful death laws is not easy, but this guide seeks to offer help.

What Are the Elements of Wrongful Death Claims?

When a family is pursuing compensation for the death of a loved one, understanding wrongful death claims becomes highly important. The following are some of the critical elements of proving a wrongful death.

  • The liable party must have owed a duty of care to the deceased victim.

  • The liable party must have breached the duty of care in some way.

  • The breach in duty of care directly led to the injuries and eventual death of the victim.

  • The death of the victim resulted in measurable damages to the plaintiff.

Establishing Duty of Care

Duty of care falls into multiple categories. The following are some of the most common examples of duty of care in accidents.

  • Drivers have a duty of care to drive in a reasonably safer manner that protects other drivers and pedestrians.

  • Companies have a duty of care when selling products and services to consumers.

  • Medical professionals have a duty of care when providing medical services to their patients.

  • Property owners have a duty of care to keep their properties safe for visitors.

Once duty of care has been established, the deceased’s family members must prove the duty of care was breached. Because the full burden of proof rests on the shoulders of the plaintiff, evidence becomes essential.

How Are Damages Proven in Wrongful Death Claims?

The family member will need to establish that their loved one was killed because of the negligent acts of the defendant. Unfortunately, the proof does not end here. The family must also prove the damages they suffered as a direct result of the death. The following are some of the common damages families may recover, depending on the type of wrongful death claim.

  • Funeral and burial costs

  • Loss of income

  • Loss of financial support

  • Loss of love, companionship, parenting, and affection

  • Loss of household services

Establishing damages is one of the most difficult parts of the process of pursuing wrongful death compensation. Deciding how much the deceased would have made in their lifetime can be arduous for grieving family members. It is important the plaintiff can prove their damages so the jury is more likely to award them fair compensation for their losses.

Should the Family Seek Legal Help?

One of the decisions family members will need to make is if they will seek help from a lawyer. Because wrongful death cases are so difficult to prove, family members would be wise to seek legal help so they are aware of their rights and the steps involved in pursuing compensation.

A wrongful death lawyer will work to investigate the death of the deceased victim. They will gather evidence to prove the death occurred because of the negligence or malicious intent of the defendant.

Although hiring a lawyer can never guarantee an outcome, it certainly brings great peace of mind to grieving loved ones. A lawyer becomes an advocate for the deceased’s estate.