If a loved one is the victim of negligence, and they died as result, you may have a wrongful death claim on your hands. You must show that you were financially dependent upon the deceased to qualify for compensation from their death, but that is the least of challenges when it comes to proving these claims. Read on to learn more about wrongful death and proving negligence.
Wrongful Death Elements
These types of cases can be incredibly complicated, but a basic understanding of what is needed to prove negligence could help save you some time and heartache later on when no attorney will take your case. There are four basic elements of proof required to prove wrongful death:
- a death involving a human being has occurred.
- that death was the direct result of either negligence or intent.
- the existence of family members who experienced a monetary loss because of the death.
- the death has resulted in the appointment of a personal representative (executor)
The four above elements are mostly self-explanatory, straightforward and easily proven, with the exception of second item. Proving causation in a wrongful death claim can be the most challenging of all, and without proof of cause, you have no case. Causation can be broken down into two parts: actual and proximate.
Actual cause: Often known as "cause in fact", is the most simple and most obvious. The actions of another directly caused a death. For example, if a driver goes around a stopped school bus and hits and kills a child, that is a clear case of actual cause.
Proximate cause: This one is more tricky and involves cases where a death cannot be directly attributed to the actions of another, but was connected in some way. For example, in the above example the bus driver commits suicide as a result of depression associated with the child's death. That bus driver's family may have a cause of action against the driver that hit the child. These cases are sometimes referred to as "but for" cases, since you can ask if the death would not have occurred "but for" the actions of the driver of the vehicle that hit the child.
Wrongful death claims can be complicated, but if you have been left without your means of financial support because of the careless actions of another, you are entitled to compensation. Speak to a personal injury attorney to get more information today.