What is Required to Make a Wrongful Death Claim

What is Required to Make a Wrongful Death Claim

Wrongful death occurs when a person’s death is caused by the negligence or misconduct of another party. The surviving family and loved ones of the deceased may have grounds to pursue a lawsuit if the other party is at fault. A wrongful death lawsuit allows the surviving family members and loved ones affected by the death to collect compensation for related damages.

The jurisdiction regarding who can file a wrongful death claim varies by state. In many cases, a representative will file a claim on behalf of the surviving family members and loved ones burdened by the damages resulting from the death. When it comes to proving the claim, the burden of proof is usually the same across different states.

Proving a Wrongful Death Case

The burden of proof in a wrongful death lawsuit requires the plaintiff (survivors of the decedent) to provide evidence of the claim against the defendant (accused party). In order to win a case, the following elements will need to be proven:

  1. Duty of Care. It must be proven that the defendant owed the deceased person a duty of care. In most cases, there is a duty to act in a reasonable and responsible way to ensure the safety of all parties. For example, a driver has the duty to follow the rules and conduct of the road to prevent accidents.
  2. Breach of Duty of Care. If the defendant acted in a way that was not in accordance with the proven duty of care, then they can be proven to have breached this duty. For example, if the driver was texting as opposed to watching the road, then text messages would provide evidence that they breached the duty of care as a driver.
  3. Causation. Once the defendant is proven to have breached the duty of care, it must be proven that this breach directly resulted in the death of the decedent.
  4. Damages. The plaintiff must then prove that the accident and the death of the decedent resulted in damages that burdened or impacted the survivors of the decedent.

Common Types of Damages

The compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit is dependent on the damages claimed by the surviving family members and loved ones. Thorough evidence must be provided for each damage in the claim. Most, but not all, damages in a wrongful death case are in the form of pecuniary, or financial, injuries. Some of these damages may include:

  1. Medical bills
  2. Funeral expenses
  3. Loss of wages, benefits and services
  4. Loss or inheritance
  5. Loss of love, care and companionship

Hiring a Lawyer

Pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit can be a timely and stressful ordeal. An experienced lawyer can help relieve some of these stresses during this already difficult time. You should begin by setting up a consultation with an attorney such as the Personal Injury Lawyer Salt Lake City UT locals turn to, where they will then help you to understand your rights. In navigating a case, he or she can help you through the legal process and improve your chances at earning a fair compensation.


Thanks to authors at Rasmussen & Miner for their insight into Personal Injury Law.

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