Suffering the loss of a loved one is incredibly painful. However, when a death is due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another, you may experience unimaginable pain. If the wrongdoer had acted more responsibly, your loved one could still be alive. This fact creates a storm of emotions ranging from anger, sadness, and anxiety at the reality you and your family are now facing. While no amount of money could ever replace such a devastating loss, holding the right person responsible can help put survivors on the road to healing. Read on to learn more about what constitutes wrongful death and answers to the question, How do you prove wrongful death?
What Is Wrongful Death?
When a loved one dies due to someone else’s negligence or wrongful act, individuals may file a claim for wrongful death. Wrongful death claims are held in civil court, not in criminal court, and permit the recovery of financial compensation due to the death. Only certain individuals may file a wrongful death claim. In most cases, the first eligible person to file a wrongful death lawsuit is the deceased’s appointed personal representative. When a loved one does not appoint a personal representative, surviving spouses, children, siblings, and parents may file a claim.
How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?
Succeeding on a wrongful death claim is challenging without the help of a qualified personal injury attorney. To win a wrongful death case, the plaintiff must prove the alleged wrongdoer was negligent or acted wilfully in bringing about the loved one’s death. A successful claim requires establishing the four wrongful death elements for negligence. These elements are as follows:
- Duty. The wrongdoer must have owed your loved one a duty of care to act reasonably. For example, all drivers on the road owe a duty of care to those around them to operate their vehicles safely.
- Breach. A breach occurs when there is an action or inaction that is unreasonable. For example, if someone violates the posted speed limit and collides with someone, resulting in their death, a breach has likely occurred.
- Causation. The wrongdoer’s actions or inaction must have caused the death of a loved one.
- Damages. You must prove that the death of a loved one resulted in compensatory damages.
Establishing these four elements and succeeding on a claim for wrongful death is not always straightforward. However, recovering these losses is vital for surviving family members to move forward. Speak with a Mississippi personal injury attorney to explore your options for financial relief after such a devastating loss.
What Are Wrongful Death Damages?
Economic and non-economic damages compensate the survivors of the deceased for the lost financial support and suffering resulting from the loss.
Economic damages represent calculable losses amounting to the contributions the deceased would have made had they lived. These damages include the following:
- Financial support the deceased would have provided during their life,
- The value of gifts or other benefits the deceased would have provided during their life,
- Cost of funeral and burial services,
- Medical expenses incurred before the decedent passed away, and
- The value of services and support the decedent would have provided if they lived.
These losses are supported through tangible evidence like receipts, invoices, pay stubs, and other documentation.
Non-economic damages represent the subjective loss suffered due to the death. Examples include:
- Loss of the loved one’s affection, company, care, and emotional support;
- Loss of consortium;
- Loss of the loved one’s training and advice; and
- A loved one’s suffering, disfigurement, permanent disability, or pain before their death.
Due to the emotional nature of these losses, proving them is challenging without the help of a qualified personal injury attorney.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death claims can arise out of several tragic situations. Attorneys typically see the following common causes of wrongful death cases:
- Car accidents,
- Truck accidents,
- Bicycle accidents,
- Pedestrian accidents,
- Medical malpractice,
- Defective products,
- Construction accidents, and
- Criminal acts.
Even if your wrongful death claim doesn’t fit within one of these causes, speak to a Mississippi wrongful death attorney to learn more about the best path forward for your case.
Since 1981, Harris Law Firm has actively sought justice for our clients. Our skilled and experienced legal team takes a deep interest in every case we handle and prioritizes top-quality service. We take the time to get to know our clients personally so we can determine how best to meet their needs and help them achieve the justice they deserve. Despite our small size, we can handle even the most complex personal injury matters. We take a wide range of personal injury cases; no case is too big or tough for our firm. Contact us today by phone or email to learn how Harris Law Firm can help you.