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What Evidence Do You Need in a Wrongful Death Claim?


The Burden of Proof in Wrongful Death Claims

In wrongful death lawsuits, the burden of proof falls squarely on the shoulders of the plaintiff. This means the plaintiff has the legal responsibility to convince the court that the defendant's actions or inactions caused the loss of their loved one.

The standard of proof in wrongful death cases is the preponderance of evidence. This translates to needing to demonstrate that it's more likely than not that the defendant's negligence or wrongdoing directly led to the death.

Evidence in Wrongful Death Cases

This burden of proof requires the plaintiff to present a compelling case with evidence that establishes several key elements. These elements typically include proving the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased, that this duty was breached, and that the breach directly caused the death. Additionally, the plaintiff may need to demonstrate that they suffered damages as a result of the loss.

Proof Your Family Member Died Due to Negligence

Proving your family member's death resulted from negligence hinges on building a strong case with various forms of evidence. Some of the evidence needed to establish this element of the case includes:

  • Accident and police reports. Official reports generated by law enforcement at the scene, like police accident reports, are crucial documents. These reports contain details about the incident, witness information, and initial observations that can be vital for establishing the sequence of events.
  • Medical records. Medical records document the extent of your family member's injuries, the cause of death according to medical professionals, and any prior medical conditions that could be relevant. These can solidify the connection between the incident and the death.
  • Witness Statements: Eyewitness accounts can be powerful evidence, providing firsthand descriptions of what transpired. These statements can help reconstruct the events leading up to the death and potentially highlight any negligent actions by the defendant.
  • Physical evidence. Tangible evidence from the scene, such as skid marks, damaged property, or malfunctioning parts in an accident, can be crucial for reconstructing the events and potentially pinpointing the cause. Photographs of the scene and surrounding area can also be very helpful.
  • Expert testimony. Depending on the nature of the case, expert witnesses can be invaluable. For instance, a medical examiner might offer insights into the cause of death, an accident reconstruction specialist can analyze the scene and provide technical explanations, or an engineering expert could assess product malfunctions.
  • Surveillance footage. Security cameras or dashcam footage from vehicles involved can offer invaluable visual evidence. This footage can potentially capture the critical moments leading to the incident and provide a clear picture of the actions of all parties involved.

The more comprehensive your evidence and the stronger the connection it establishes between the defendant's negligence and your family member's death, the more compelling your case will be. An attorney with experience handling wrongful death cases can guide you through the evidence collection process and help you determine which types of evidence will be most impactful for your specific case.

Proof the Defendant Owed the Plaintiff a Duty of Care & Breached This Duty

Evidence that establishes a duty of care and its breach depends on the circumstances of the case. For example, medical records and professional licensing documents can demonstrate a doctor's duty to provide a certain standard of care to a patient. Traffic laws and accident reports can prove a driver's duty to operate their vehicle safely.

Proof of Damages

Evidence of damages in a wrongful death case focuses on the losses suffered by the surviving family members due to their loved one's passing. This can include financial documents like medical bills related to the final illness or injury, funeral and burial expenses, and lost income the deceased would have contributed to the household.

Also, evidence of the deceased's future earning potential and their role within the family can be presented. Emotional damages may also be recoverable, with evidence coming in the form of testimonies from therapists, grief counselors, or even close family members describing the emotional and psychological toll of the loss.

For help developing your wrongful death claim and collective evidence, contact the team at Belushin Law Firm, P.C. online or via phone at (888) 918-9890.

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