When a person’s death is caused by the negligent acts of another person, it is considered wrongful death. When this occurs, the surviving family of the victim can file a civil lawsuit to receive damages for the death. Each state has different rules and regulations regarding wrongful death cases, but there are some general rules to know that are common between most states. Here is what you need to know about proving wrongful death.
It is important to know that when you are bringing on a wrongful death claim, it is a civil suit and not a criminal one. A prosecutor may file criminal charges against the same defendant, but that is with the end goal of imprisonment or a large fine. However, a criminal prosecution doesn’t give any compensation to the surviving family members, which is why civil suits are brought on.
The person who brings on the wrongful death lawsuit is considered the plaintiff and they are typically the immediate family member of the deceased. The family member will represent all of the heirs of the deceased who are trying to receive damages. The person who is being accused of wrongfully causing the death is the defendant. If the person died with a will, the court will often designate the plaintiff as a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate.
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof falls on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant’s negligent actions are what directly led to the victim’s death. There are three things that must be proven in a wrongful death case:
- Duty of Care: The Plaintiff has to show the court that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care. In a medical malpractice case, once a doctor-patient relationship is established, the doctor has a duty of care to that patient. In situations such as car accidents, the negligent driver had the duty of care to follow the rules of the road.
- Breach of Care: Once the duty of care is proven, it then must be shown that the defendant breached this duty, acting in a negligent way. In a car accident, this would be something like the defendant speeding or running a red light.
- Causation: This might be the most difficult and important element to prove in a wrongful death case. The defendant’s negligent actions must have DIRECTLY led to the victim’s death or it is invalid. This means that the defendant running a red light needed to have caused the accident that led to the victim’s death.
Has Your Loved One Suffered a Wrongful Death? Contact The Snyder Law Group Today!
The Snyder Law Group, LLC, proudly represents clients throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. Our experienced Baltimore attorneys understand the frustration that comes with an insurance company, medical professional, or other party that refuses to accept liability for negligent or reckless behavior. You can take heart in knowing there are talented and experienced lawyers ready to work for you. We are experienced in handling personal injury claims of medical malpractice or injury resulting from serious car and truck accidents, and have secured hundreds of millions in verdicts settlements*. Please visit our website,www.410thefirm.com, for more information and follow us on Facebook,Twitter,Google +, and LinkedIn.