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What Do You Need to Prove as the Plaintiff in a Wrongful Death Case?

A wrongful death claim is a civil suit filed by a person who seeks to hold another person or entity responsible for negligence that resulted in the death of a loved one. For the plaintiff to be successful in such a case, he or she must prove the following elements:

  • Duty of care: The plaintiff must prove the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased individual. If it is a car accident case, there is an automatic presumption that the defendant, as a driver, owed a duty of care to all other people sharing the roadway to drive with reasonable care and to obey the rules of the road. The duty of care might be a bit more complex in other types of cases, but the general idea is the same — the plaintiff must show the defendant had some minimal responsibility for the safety of others.
  • Breach of that duty: Once the plaintiff has proven that a duty of care existed, he or she must then prove that the defendant somehow breached that duty. If a defendant ran a red light, for example, that would be a breach of the duty of care they owe to obey the rules of the road and exercise caution while operating a vehicle.
  • Causation: The plaintiff must establish a causal link between the breach of the defendant’s duty of care and the death of the loved one. It is not enough to show the defendant ran a red light if that action did not result in the accident that caused the loved one’s death. The two incidents must be directly related, with the death being caused by the breach.

For more information on how wrongful death claims proceed, work with an experienced personal injury lawyer at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP.