If a loved one has died because of someone else’s negligence, you may have the ability to file a wrongful death claim, which could result in you recovering damages to cover medical bills, burial expenses, emotional trauma and other damages. However, to be successful in one of these claims, you need to be able to prove that the defendant was actually negligent.
There are four steps to proving negligence in a wrongful death claim:
- Proving a duty of care existed. The defendant must have had some sort of duty of care to the decedent. Basically, this means that the defendant had a responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of your loved one. While driving, for example, people have a duty of care to obey the rules of the road and drive safely, operating their vehicles in the way a “reasonably prudent” person would.
- Proving that the defendant breached that duty. You must show that the defendant failed to meet his or her duty of care. In a car accident, for example, you could prove that the defendant ran a red light, was speeding at the time of the accident, was drunk behind the wheel or was guilty of another traffic violation.
- Proving causation. Next, you must be able to demonstrate that the defendant’s breach of duty of care actually caused the accident. Just because the defendant was speeding isn’t enough to prove that he or she was negligent in a wrongful death claim — you must have evidence that their speeding directly caused the accident.
- Proving damages. In a wrongful death case, this step is simple — the damages are that you lost a loved one due to the actions in question.
To learn more about how to proceed with a wrongful death claim, contact the compassionate Bradenton injury attorneys at Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni & Walsh.