The pain of wrongful death is something that no family should ever have to experience. Losing a loved one unexpectedly can be devastating, both emotionally and financially. Though it may feel like justice cannot be served for the loss of life, family members can seek justice through a wrongful death lawsuit.
But what are the chances of winning a wrongful death suit?
Here’s what you need to know about the chances of winning a wrongful death suit and how you can maximize your chances of success in court.
Elements Of A Wrongful Death Lawsuit: Negligence Vs Intentional Harm
For a wrongful death case to be successful, certain elements must be proven for either negligence or intentional harm.
Negligence is a legal term for an act of carelessness or recklessness that results in harm. For a wrongful death lawsuit to be successful, the following elements must be present:
Duty of Care
It must be proven the defendant’s duty of care for the victim. For example, a doctor’s duty of care would be to provide proper medical treatment and diagnosis.
Breach of Duty of Care
The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant breached their duty of care, either through negligence or intentional harm. Using the same example, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the doctor acted negligently or intentionally by failing to provide proper medical treatment or diagnosis.
The plaintiff must show that the breach of duty was a direct cause of the victim’s death. Again using the example, the plaintiff must show that if the doctor had provided proper medical treatment or diagnosis, it would have prevented the victim’s death.
The plaintiff must show that the wrongful death has directly caused damages such as emotional trauma, medical bills, and lost wages. For instance, if the victim was the main breadwinner of a family, their death would cause financial hardship for that family.
Intentional Harm is defined as an action taken to cause harm, such as assault and battery. The elements for a successful wrongful death suit in this scenario include:
Intent to Commit Act
The plaintiff must prove that the defendant intended to commit a wrongful act and had knowledge that it would cause harm. For instance, if the defendant attacked the victim knowing that it could result in their death, this would be considered intentional harm.
The plaintiff must demonstrate that the act was not consensual and that the victim did not agree to the harm done. For example, if the defendant attacked the victim without their consent, this would constitute non-consensual harm.
The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant’s actions resulted in the victim’s death. In this example, if the attack resulted in the victim’s death, this would be considered fatal harm.
Unraveling whether negligence, intentional harm, or neither was the cause of wrongful death can be complex. For this reason, it is recommended to seek legal advice from a qualified lawyer to ascertain whether you have a case. A qualified personal injury attorney possesses the skills and knowledge to collect the evidence and build a case that stands a good chance of success.
Determining Eligibility To File For Wrongful Death
To determine if a wrongful death lawsuit is possible, eligibility must be established. In most states, the following family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Spouse or domestic partner
- If there are no surviving close family members, the decedent’s parents or siblings can file a wrongful death suit.
- The putative spouse of the step-child can also be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit if there are no surviving family members.
A member of the decedent’s estate may also be eligible to file a wrongful death suit if they are appointed by the court. In the state of California, the statute of limitations for wrongful death suits is two years from the date of death.
Maximizing Your Damages
The damages in a wrongful death suit are designed to compensate the plaintiff for their losses, such as medical bills, funeral expenses, and emotional trauma. To increase your chances of success, your lawyer should be able to prove that the defendant was negligent or acted with intent to harm.
In terms of monetary damages, the plaintiff should seek to maximize their compensation. An experienced lawyer will know how to assess and establish the value of each claim so that you receive the full amount of compensation you are entitled to.
In California, the following damages can be covered by a wrongful death claim:
- Burial expenses
- Lost wages or financial support
- Medical expenses related to the decedent’s injury
- Pain and suffering of the decedent before death
- The loss of companionship the decedent would have provided to their family
- Loss of training or guidance
California does not offer a standard formula for determining monetary compensation in wrongful death cases, so consulting a qualified lawyer is the best way to ensure that you are awarded the maximum amount of damages.
Here at The Law Office of Michelle Gershen, we have extensive experience in properly calculating damages for wrongful death lawsuits. We look beyond the decedent’s income and consider their education, potential career advancement, and other intangible effects that their death has had on their family.
We possess the necessary expertise and network to build a strong case and maximize your chances of winning a wrongful death lawsuit.
How Can a Lawyer Increase My Odds of Winning a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The chances of winning a wrongful death suit can be improved significantly with the help of a qualified lawyer. An experienced wrongful death attorney will have the necessary knowledge and expertise to assess your case, collect evidence, and build an effective case strategy.
The Law Office of Michelle Gershen has the resources to maximize your chances of success and ensure that you receive the full amount of compensation you are entitled to.
We understand how difficult and emotionally draining it is to deal with wrongful death cases, and we are dedicated to helping you get the justice you deserve.
Contact us today for a consultation and get started on your wrongful death lawsuit.