Is Wrongful Death Hard to Prove?
Updated: Feb 24
Losing a loved one is a difficult time under any circumstances. A sudden, unexpected death resulting from an accident or incident beyond one’s control is even more so. A wrongful death claim is a way of seeking justice for a relative, but it is not always straightforward.
To prove that the incident qualifies as wrongful death and successfully sue another party for damages is not easy. In some cases, the evidence is clear and under no dispute, but often this is not how things proceed.
Contacting experienced and dedicated St Louis injury attorneys is the best way to improve the likelihood of a successful wrongful death claim and find justice for those who cannot.
How to Prove Wrongful Death
Every case is unique, but the principles remain the same. Before a wrongful death suit can go ahead, a thorough evidence-based investigation exploring the circumstances surrounding the death in question must be launched.
There are four key factors that must be proven for a claim to be successful:
● The defendant had a duty of care to the deceased.
● They neglected that duty of care.
● Their neglect was the direct cause of death.
● Damages (financial or non-financial) were suffered as a result.
Without evidence to prove these four statements are factual, a wrongful death claim is unlikely to succeed.
Here is further insight into what each of the four elements entails.
Duty of Care Owed
Duty of care applies to any responsibility a person has to act in a certain way to ensure the well-being of others. Examples include the obligation a driver has to abide by speed limits and road laws to keep passengers and other road users safe. Another example is the responsibility a legal guardian has to protect and care for a child.
The first step in a case like this is to provide evidence that a duty of care was owed. Determining who is a fault and proving wrongful death in court is essential to move forward.
Failure to Provide Duty of Care
After identifying the duty of care, the next stage is proving a violation occurred. Finding evidence to show a breached obligation can be a complicated process, depending on the circumstances.
If a driver fails a blood alcohol test, this could qualify as a failure to provide the care due. If a medical professional issues the wrong treatment, the same applies. Some wrongful death cases find trouble in proving that the defendant was not doing what they were supposed to do at the time of the incident. Accidents can happen even if all obligations were fulfilled.
Proof of Direct Causation
Proving that the defendant’s negligence was the direct cause of death is the most complicated part of this type of case. Even if there is no doubt about the duty of care violation, there needs to be evidence that shows direct causation. In essence, plaintiffs must prove that the death would not have occurred if not for the defendant’s actions.
In the event of a medical mistake, there must be evidence to show that the error was the sole purpose for the death- not an underlying health issue or any other outside factor.
To be awarded compensation, the plaintiff must present a case for all damages suffered. Proving financial damages is usually straightforward. Medical bills, funeral costs, and lost income are examples of economic damages, easily provable using documents and receipts.
Non-financial costs may include emotional pain and loss of companionship. A wrongful death lawyer will present a case to show the extent of the pain suffered and get a worthy settlement.
It is also possible to pursue a settlement for pain and suffering on behalf of the deceased. Again, you must be able to prove damages to be entitled to compensation.
Is wrongful death hard to prove? Yes, it often is. The Powell Law trial team has a wealth of experience and success in this area and in finding justice for every client. Attention to detail when investigating all four elements is essential- and something Powell Law prides itself on.
A death in the family is never easy, but an avoidable death is the most painful of all. Enlisting the assistance and expertise of Powell Law within the statute of limitations helps smooth the road and maximize the chances of finding justice in the court.