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Proving Negligence in a Wrongful Death Claim

Losing a loved one due to unfortunate means can be heartbreaking for the loved ones that they left behind. Unlike natural causes, death due to negligence or wrongful death is an incident caused “by another person or entity’s wrongful or negligent act,” (AllLaw). What might come to most mind’s in the case of wrongful death by another person might be a fatal car accident involving a drunk driver. In the case of wrongful death caused by an entity, it might be someone dying on the job due to out-of-date safety measures at a work facility. Either way, the deceased met their untimely demise due to the harmful behavior of others. 

When loved ones are trying to pursue justice for the deceased in the case of wrongful death, they must go by a state mandate “that permits a civil lawsuit by the heirs of a person who was killed by another person or entity’s wrongful or negligent act,” (AllLaw). But, they would first have to convince a court judge that the death of their loved one was through no fault of their own. This can be easy to make a claim around in a drunk driving lawsuit, but under other circumstances, it may not be so cut and dry.  

The reason why this is so is that the deceased loved ones must prove that the third party involved had “a duty to do something to keep another person safe or refrain from doing something that would harm another person,” (AllLaw). A drunk driver who killed an innocent driver by ramming into the back of their car during a stoplight, owed the other driver to be sober. The work facility where an employee was killed owed them up-to-date safety protocols. 

Second, they would have to actually convince a judge that the third party failed to fulfill their duty. In a drunk driving case, the third party’s failed breathalyzer test may be brought in as evidence to prove that the driver was at the time drunk at the time of the victim’s death. With a workplace case, family members may have to compare the workplace’s safety handbook with OSHA to see if there are any discrepancies between the two standards of a safe workplace environment. Either way, the burden of proof is on the accuser. Then, the plaintiff would have to show how these events led up to the cause of death (i.e. it was the drunk driver driving that particular car that caused the victim’s death or it was the 30-year old machinery that malfunctioned that caused the victim’s death). 

Finally, the remaining family members must argue that because their loved one died, they have suffered a loss. That loss could include “ lost financial support, the decedent’s pain and suffering prior to death, funeral expenses and other damages depending on the statute and the context of the case,” (AllLaw). Wrongful death lawsuits can be just as traumatizing as the actual loss of a loved one. Having all of your evidence and facts together can ensure that the process is swift so that the victim’s family can properly grieve and move on. 

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