What does it take to pursue a wrongful death claim?

Nov 26, 2019 | Initial Consultation, Wrongful death lawyers

Christina Trotta

Personal Injury Lawyer

After the death of a loved one, family members have the option of filing a civil claim of wrongful death if they believe that the death was as a result of an individual’s, company’s or organization’s negligent actions. The lawyer will assess different elements of the situation to determine if you have a case. We’ll go over some critical elements that wrongful death lawyers often assess prior to recommending the best course of action for their clients.

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Duty of care

The matter of duty is a somewhat complicated one to prove in wrongful death cases. In legal terms, duty refers to that implied or expressed responsibility that the negligent party has in regards to the deceased. For instance, if anyone goes behind the wheel and chooses to drive a car, he/she has taken the duty to drive safely. A similar case applies to doctors who choose to work in a hospital or nursing home. It is their duty to use their knowledge and experience to help patients recover. The personal injury lawyer will gather evidence to establish a duty of care. This is why first the lawyer has to establish the matter of duty and then move on to the next aspect of the case which involves proving negligence.

Negligence

Once the duty of care is established, the next step is to assess how the responsible party honoured their responsibility. In simple terms, the claim must include a charge of negligence. For instance, a driver who was involved in an accident will be found negligent if it is proven that he/she wasn’t observing the rules of the road or driving carefully. In the case of a medical doctor, he/she may be found guilty of negligence if the patient was not properly medicated or the level of care provided was not considered reasonable. As simple as it may sound, these factors can be extremely difficult to prove in a wrongful death claim.

Did the negligence result in a loss of life?

Ultimately, it must be proven that the neglect contributed to the death. This is critical even if the negligence is obvious. The law seeks to understand if the deceased would have passed away even if the actions or lack thereof of the associated party responsible were different. This is a key factor in building a strong case. For instance, if a person passes away after using certain medication, it must be proven that the medication is what led to the death and not other underlying factors.

The process of seeking damages

Even after it is proven that there was a clear case of wrongful death, wrongful death claim lawyers must show what financial hardships have taken place in order to claim damages for their client. The damages could be monetary or non-pecuniary such as loss of companionship. Experienced wrongful death lawyers understand what kinds of damages can be sought and will make sure everything is included when filing your claim to maximize the amount of compensation the claimant is awarded.