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Wrongful Death: Proving Fault

Wrongful Death: Proving F…

When your loved one has died as a result of someone else’s negligence or negligent actions then seeking compensation is the best legal recourse. However, like any other personal injury case you will need to prove a wrongful death claim. This article will discuss about proving fault in respect of a personal injury wrongful death claim.

By definition [wrongful death | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu)] a wrongful death is “a death that is caused by the wrongful act of another, either accidentally or intentionally”. The point of compensation in a wrongful death claim is so as to cover the financial gap and expenses that result from the death of the individual. To successfully file a wrongful death’s claim a plaintiff should hire a personal injury attorney in Alaska [https://www.crowsonlaw-wasilla.com/wrongful-death/] for seeking legal advice and representation.

Wrongful death claims are based on a statute that allows and provides for a civil lawsuit to be brought forth by the heirs of the person who has died. These statutes were created by state legislators in order to compensate close family members and others dependents for the death of their loved one. Some damages that can be sought in a wrongful death claim include the following:

  • loss of financial support
  • pain and suffering before death of the deceased
  • medical expenses incurred before the death
  • funeral expenses

The above is not an exhaustive list as other damages are dependent upon the statute as well in the context of the wrongful death case.

In other personal injury cases, when a case is based on negligence, a plaintiff must prove the elements of negligence. These elements are:

  • Duty - in order to successfully prove duty as an element of negligence the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed the deceased a duty of “due care”.  Due care generally means a duty to do something to keep another person safe or to not do something that would cause harm to another person. A number of factors are taken into consideration by the judge when deciding whether or not a duty of care was owed to the deceased. This includes predictability or foreseeability of the harm, the certainty that the harm occurred, the closeness of the connection between the defendant’s actions and the harm and the moral blame of the defendant.
  • Breach of duty - if duty exists then the plaintiff must give evidence that the defendant breached that duty. Such a breach, for example, could be evidence showing that the defendant failed to pay attention to the road as any reasonable prudent driver would. 
  • Proving causation - the plaintiff then needs to prove that as a result of the breach of duty this caused the harm of the deceased. For example, in a car accident incident the plaintiff would need to prove that it was the defendant’s vehicle that struck the deceased.
  • Damages - after linking the breach of duty and causation it is necessary to prove that the deceased actually suffered damages. However, in a wrongful death case the damages are obvious; that is the injured individual was killed. 

Dealing with the death of a loved one is a difficult thing to do, hence, it is advisable to seek legal representation for legal recourse.




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