Accidents befall people every day and there is really nothing anyone can do about it. You hear of various tragedies all the time which involve car accidents, murders, assaults etc., and it makes you wonder whether there is any justice for the people who lose their lives due to these mishaps. Well there can be, in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit.
The first prerequisite in filing a wrongful death law suit is that you have to be related to the deceased in some capacity. This means that only immediate family members like parents, spouse, children or grandchildren can file these suits, while in certain cases legal guardians and / or extended family members might be allowed to do so, as well.
The Main Elements of a Wrongful Death Case
For you to file a wrongful death suit and hope to have a chance of winning, you need to prove four basic elements before you can proceed. These are:
- The death of the deceased was caused by the party you are suing. The extent of their involvement also needs to be proved in this case
- The death of the deceased was caused as a direct result of the actions of the defendant
- The death of the deceased has a direct effect on your life, as well as the lives of any dependents (children, parents etc.) and you need compensation to provide for yourself or for them
- The death of the deceased led to monetary damages that you are unable to pay
Before taking any action, keep in mind that these elements, while extremely important for any wrongful death law suit, may differ from one state to the next. It is possible that some state’s laws are in favor of the defendant or vice versa, and the best way to make sure is to consult a wrongful death attorney beforehand.
While we have already talked about four very important elements that need to be proved in almost every wrongful death law suit, one factor that is detrimental to every such case is negligence. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as a “failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances.”
For example, if a doctor performing a surgery is distracted and makes a blunder that directly led to the death of a person, then that doctor will be considered negligent in this case and is liable to be sued by the victim’s family. Another example can be that of a drunk driver, who caused an accident leading to another person’s death. In this case, the driver will be considered negligent as he was driving under the influence of alcohol.
The most important factor when it comes to negligence, however, is to definitively prove that there was any in the first place. You need to prove the defendant had a direct hand in the deceased person’s death, for which you will require some form of evidence, or witness testimony. These aspects of the case are best left up to a capable wrongful death attorney.