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4 Elements of a Valid Wrongful Death Claim

Determining Wrongful Death: How to Tell If You Have a Case  

What would your family do without your main provider? Whether that’s you, your spouse, or someone else in your household, their loss would not only be a tragedy for your family, but also a huge financial blow. This means that if you or a loved one dies because of someone else’s malice or negligence, your family has a right to compensation. Wrongful death lawsuits force the guilty party to pay for all the financial damage of your loved one’s death. Through the following steps, you can determine if you have a case for wrongful death compensation:

Step 1: Establishing Duty of Care

The first step in any wrongful death case is to prove that the defendant had a duty of care toward your loved one. This means they had a reasonable expectation to take some action that would have ensured your loved one’s safety. If they were driving a car, for example, their duty of care was to obey traffic laws and avoid hitting pedestrians or other vehicles. Likewise, when your loved one’s doctor is the defendant, their duty of care is to provide accurate diagnoses and safe, effective medical services.

Step 2: Identifying a Breach

Once you’ve made it clear that the defendant had a duty of care, you have to prove they breached that duty. For drivers, this means that they were intoxicated, were not watching the road, or otherwise operated the vehicle illegally or recklessly. For doctors, it may mean treating your loved one in a way that was dangerous or harmful without properly informing them of the risk. In these and all other cases, it’s essential to show not only that the defendant did something harmful, but that they could reasonably be expected to have anticipated that harm and protected your loved one from it.

Step 3: Clarifying Causation

Even if the defendant breached their duty of care, it doesn’t necessarily follow that your loved one’s death was their fault. You also have to rule out other possible causes. For example, a negligent driver might hit and kill your loved one not because they are negligent, but because their vehicle has faulty brakes that made it unsafe for anyone to drive. Only by proving that the defendant directly caused your loved one’s death can you demand that they compensate you.

Step 4: Estimating the Impact

After establishing that the defendant caused your loved one’s death by violating their duty of care, the final step is to estimate the impact on you and other survivors. This involves calculating the value of the wages and benefits that they would have earned had they still been alive; you may also be able to demand compensation for funeral costs, mental anguish, and other effects. It is essential to assemble strong evidence of the impact that your loved one’s death had on you. The stronger the evidence, the easier it is to show that their death caused you true financial hardship, bolstering your case for redress.

Our Experienced California Attorney at Johnson Attorneys Group Can Help

For more information on wrongful death lawsuits or to make an appointment, contact Johnson Attorneys Group today at 1-800-208-3538. Our experienced California attorney offers free case evaluations and there are no legal fees until we recover compensation for you. We conveniently have 12 locations throughout California. We hope to hear from you soon so you can get the help you and your family deserve.  

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