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What are the elements of a wrongful death case?

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2024 | Wrongful Death

When someone else passes away, a wrongful death lawsuit may be used for the family members to seek compensation. This compensation may include things like lost wages or the cost of medical bills and funeral expenses.

But how do you show that it was a wrongful death? What should the case actually entail? There are four main categories to keep in mind.

A duty owed and breached

To start with, to be responsible, the other person needs to owe a duty to the deceased. This could be a doctor who has a duty to uphold a specific standard of care, for instance, or a driver who has a duty to operate their vehicle safely on public roads.

Next, the lawsuit needs to show that this duty was breached. Maybe the doctor made a mistake or the driver was distracted.

The cause of death

Once it has been established that the duty was breached in some way, this breach has to be shown as the cause of the person’s death. That person only lost their life directly because of the action or inaction of the other party. For instance, a driver looked down at their phone, ran a red light and T-boned another vehicle. A passenger in that vehicle suffered fatal injuries in the crash.

The damages

Finally, financial damages need to be linked to the person’s passing. This could include a loss of future wages for the family if that person was the main breadwinner, for example, or the direct costs that they had to cover due to the unexpected passing. When these damages only exist because of a wrongful death, family members need to know what legal options they have to seek proper compensation.