The death of a loved one is a traumatizing experience. The grief and misery can increase depending on what role that particular member played in the family. For instance, the death of a sole breadwinner can cause despair and confusion amongst his dependents. Moreover, if the death came as a result of negligence on the part of another person, the emotions become even more tangled.
It is often said that one should hope for the best and plan for the worst. For such planning, knowing about the basic elements of a wrongful death case might come in handy. Even if you might not face a situation like this, there can be other people you can advise effectively. However, if you are in such a situation, here is what you need to know.
The Wrongful Death Law
This law is listed as a sub-division for the personal injury law which is known as the tort law. The wrongful death law applies when a person is killed due to the negligence or intentional act of another party. The victims surviving beneficiaries can take the person they think was responsible for the death to court. The basic details of the law might differ from state to state but the fundamental provisions remain the same.
One important thing to bear in mind is that personal injury laws are separate from criminal laws. This means that even if a person is acquitted of murder in a criminal court, the family can still sue them in civil court in a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death might be intentional or unintentional. At the end of the day, the family and heirs of the deceased have the right to sue the person responsible for the death irrespective of whether the act that proved fatal was intentional or not.
Elements That Have to Be Proven in a Wrongful Death Case
Since a wrongful death case is a part of personal injury law, the same aspects apply to the case when proving negligence. There has to be establishment of liability, i.e. proof of the fact that the person being sued didn’t follow their duties when they caused the accident. The elements that have to be proved include breach of duty and also the cause of the damages. As with personal injury cases, failure to abide by the duty of care assigned by law to every individual can provide ample grounds for a successful negligence claim in a wrongful death case.
Responsibility of the Defendant
In most cases, defendants are aware of whether or not they were at fault. In such cases, it is their moral and ethical responsibility to shoulder the consequences of their actions. The state decides a number of damages that the defendant has to pay if proven guilty. These include compensation, punitive damages as well as other relevant costs.
Wrongful death lawsuits require careful considerations before they can be initiated. A personal injury attorney can help and advise you on the best way forward for your respective case. It is therefore imperative to contact a seasoned professional when such an incident occurs.