If you have lost a loved one and believe another person’s negligence is to blame, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim to collect compensation for your losses. However, you will have to prove three essential claims to win such a case. We discuss these case elements here.
What You Will Have to Show
A wrongful death claim will only be appropriate in certain very specific situations. Working with an experienced wrongful death attorney, you must be able to prove that the person who caused the accident that led to your loved one’s death did so, whether negligently or intentionally, despite having a responsibility to ensure his or her safety. In other words, you must prove the following:
- The defendant owed the victim a duty of care. Simply put, duty of care refers to the duty of one person to refrain from doing something that would harm another person. An obvious example of this is the duty of a doctor to not harm a patient. But this can also apply to an ordinary citizen behind the wheel of a car—the driver has a duty of care to not drive in a manner that puts others in harm’s way. This determination will be made by the judge in a wrongful death claim. The judge will consider several factors, including how predictable and certain it was that harm would result from the action.
- The defendant breached that duty of care. Once it is established that the defendant had a legal duty to not harm the victim, it must be proven that he did indeed breach that duty through negligence or intention. Driving while intoxicated is a clear breach of duty, but a simple driving error may not meet the standard. Likewise, it may be determined that a doctor, while performing a procedure that led to the death of a patient, did not do so negligently or intentionally.
- That breach of duty caused the death of the victim. The defense attorney will work hard to deny causation. It will be up to the plaintiff’s attorney to provide evidence directly connecting the negligent action with the death of the victim. In a multi-car accident, for example, it would have to be proven that the accused directly caused the death of the victim and no other cause—such as another vehicle or a pre-existing medical condition—exists.
The Button Law Firm Is on Your Side
If you lost a loved one in a tragic Texas accident, contact us as soon as you can to discuss the possibility of a wrongful death claim. We will weigh the evidence and provide sound legal advice about moving forward.