Understanding Wrongful Death Claims

While you might have a strong suspicion that someone’s negligence or direct intent led to the death of your loved one, the suspicion is not the same as knowing or proving fault. Wrongful death claims are notoriously tricky legal actions because, like a criminal case, they depend on evidence. Unfortunately for the surviving family members, emotion is not the same as evidence, and belief in the guilt of the defendant is not enough to carry a lawsuit through trial. Wrongful death claims are complex actions, and there are at least three things you should know before you file a suit.

  1. Application

The term wrongful death is not applicable to every situation where a death occurs. The use of a wrongful death claim can typically be siphoned down to three instances: intentional killing, medical malpractice and negligent accidents. While criminal trials are usually held for murderers, it is possible that a person can be found innocent at a criminal proceeding and found guilty in a civil action. For example, O.J. Simpson was sued for wrongful death after being found not guilty in criminal court. Therefore, it is apparent that the burden of proof is not as high in civil matters. You can also file suit against medical professionals if you feel that their professional negligence led to your loved one’s death. Last, a wrongful death claim can be filed when someone’s negligence results in an accident that takes the life of your loved one.

  1. Proof

While a civil case may not require the same level of evidence as a criminal trial, these cases still depend on evidence to determine liability and fault. However, the burden of proof is on the family in these trials. Therefore, you must show that the defendant had a duty of care for your loved one. You must demonstrate how they breached that duty, causing your loved one’s untimely death. Then, you must show how their death caused the need for the recovery you are seeking. An attorney should be able to help you put together all the necessary pieces of evidence.

  1. Filing

It is necessary to note that not just anyone can file a wrongful death claim. The suit must be brought forth by the family directly or a representative of the decedent’s estate. Spouses are the most common claimants. However, parents or even siblings can also file. Although, while extended family might also be permitted to file, cases are harder to argue the more distant the relationship.

A wrongful death claim is a legal action that requires evidence to succeed. It is necessary for relatives to only file a claim when their case meets the burden of proof mentioned above. Contact a wrongful death attorney in Houston, TX for more information and insight.

Thanks to John K. Zaid & Associates for their insight into personal injury claims and understanding wrongful death.

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