No one ever expects to lose a loved one, especially in wrongful death. When someone’s life is cut short due to the negligence of another, it can be difficult to find closure and move on with your life.
But to do so, there are a few elements that must be present.
The Defendant’s Actions or Inaction Caused Injury or Death
The first element that should be present to bring forth a wrongful death lawsuit, is that the defendant’s actions or inaction caused injury or death. This means that the injuries were directly related to the defendant’s actions at the time of their behavior. A common example would be if someone was driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and injured or killed someone in the process.
However, it is not always as cut and dry as this example. California law allows everyone to file a lawsuit for wrongful death damages in civil court, regardless of citizen status. That means that a family member of a person killed in an accident may have the same legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit as someone who was injured.
In these cases, it is important to remember that you must be able to prove that the defendant’s actions or lack of action caused injury or death. Otherwise, you may have difficulty moving forward with your case.
The Defendant Acted or Failed to Act in a Way That Caused Injury or Death
In addition to being able to prove that the defendant’s actions directly caused injury or death, you also must be able to prove that they acted in a way that caused injury or death. In other words, if you were filing your lawsuit against the driver that injured someone in a car accident, you must be able to show evidence of negligence on their part. This can be difficult in many cases, but there are some common examples.
You would be able to prove that the driver was negligent if they drove while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, ran a stop sign or red light, were texting while driving, etc.
The Defendant Owed a Duty of Care to the Deceased Person
The last element that should be present to file a wrongful death lawsuit is the defendant’s duty of care. To file a wrongful death lawsuit, you must be able to prove that the defendant owed the deceased person a duty of care. This means that they had a responsibility to avoid causing them any harm.
In the case of a defendant that is an individual or business, it means that they should have been aware of the potential for harm to others, and taken steps to prevent them from causing injury. In some cases, this may be a clear-cut responsibility, such as a physician owed a duty of care to a patient.
Sometimes, it may be less obvious that the defendant owes a duty of care to the deceased person. This is particularly true where it was an accident, like a car accident or slip and fall case. In these cases, it may be helpful to consult with a personal injury lawyer for assistance in building your case.
Wrongful death lawsuits are a way for those who have lost someone due to the negligence of another person or company, to seek justice and closure. However, before you can file such a lawsuit, several elements must be present and if all these things happen simultaneously and cannot be disproven, then it may make sense for you to consider filing a wrongful death suit with your local civil court system.