What do I Need to Prove to be Successful in My Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of another individual, entity, or company in California, then you should be able to recover compensation for your losses. Wrongful death laws in California are available to help family members and the estate of the deceased recover various types of compensation in these situations. However, there are multiple elements that need to be in place and proven in order for a wrongful death claim to be successful.
1. Establishing a Duty of Care
The first step in a successful wrongful death claim is establishing that there was a duty of care between the deceased and the defendant (the party alleged to have caused the death).
A duty of care will look different depending on the situation at hand. For example, if the wrongful death claim revolves around a fatal car accident, the duty of care will center on the obligations that all drivers have to operate their vehicles safely on the roadway (their duty of care). If the incident revolves around a workplace fatality, those involved will have to examine the duty of an employer and coworkers to maintain a safe working environment.
2. Showing the Duty of Care was Breached
After establishing that the defendant owed the deceased a duty of care, the case will shift to proving that the defendant somehow breached their duty of care.
Again, a breach of duty will look different depending on the situation. In following the example above of the fatal car accident, there are various ways that a person can breach their duty on the roadway. This can include operating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, operating while distracted, or failing to obey basic traffic laws. In the workplace, employers can breach their duty of care by failing to maintain a safe working environment or failing to promptly remedy dangerous hazards.
3. Proving Causation Between the Breach and the Death
Proving that there was a breach of duty is not enough to win a wrongful death claim. It must be shown that the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the incident that led to the death of the deceased.
For example, if an intoxicated driver was simply a part of a vehicle accident, but their actions did not directly cause the incident, they will likely not be held liable for the death. However, if it can be shown that the intoxication led to the driver disregarding traffic laws and causing the accident, this will likely be enough to prove causation between the breach of duty and the death.
4. Proving Damages in the Wrongful Death Claim
The final element of a wrongful death claim is proving that the family members or the estate of the deceased suffered some sort of monetary loss. This can include a variety of damages, such as medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, pain and suffering losses, and more.
When working to prove these four elements of a wrongful death claim, it is crucial to make sure you have an attorney by your side. A Riverside wrongful death lawyer will handle every aspect of these claims so you can focus on being with your family and grieving the loss of your loved one.