How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a legal term that refers to the death of a person caused by the negligence or intentional act of another person. Losing a loved one is a devastating experience. If there is reason to believe that the death was caused by another party’s wrongful act or negligence, the grieving family may be entitled to damages from the responsible party.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
To be successful in a wrongful death claim, you must be able to prove the following elements:
The Death of a Loved One
In order to bring a wrongful death claim against someone, it must be proven that an individual passed away.
Causation of Death
In addition to proving that an individual died, it must also be demonstrated that the defendant was responsible for causing their death. This means that you must be able to provide evidence proving that your loved one would not have passed away had it not been for this specific individual’s actions (or lack thereof).
The last element necessary to prove wrongful death is establishing damages—that is, tangible losses suffered by those affected by the deceased person’s passing.
Examples of compensable damages could include loss of financial support resulting from the deceased’s income, medical expenses incurred due to treatment before passing, funeral costs, and/or emotional distress experienced by survivors as a result of their loved one’s untimely death.
The executor or administrator must file the lawsuit on behalf of the survivors (spouse, children, or parents) who experienced economic harm related to the passing of their loved one.
You must also ensure that the lawsuit is filed within the statute of limitations. In South Carolina, you have three years to file a lawsuit for a “death by wrongful act, the period to begin to run upon the death of the person on account of whose death the action is brought.”
In some cases, there are exceptions to this timeline, so you should always speak with a Charleston wrongful death lawyer to ensure your claim is filed on time.
Tips For Proving Wrongful Death:
- Gather evidence as soon as possible. This includes things like police reports, witness statements, and medical records.
- Talk to eyewitnesses. They can provide crucial observations that can help prove wrongful death.
- Preserve evidence. This includes things like photos of the scene of the accident or the vehicle involved in the accident.
- Get an autopsy report. This will help to determine the cause of death and whether the death was caused by the negligence or intentional act of another person.
- Talk to an attorney. An experienced attorney can help you to understand your legal options and to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Factors That Value of a Wrongful Death Claim
The amount of compensation awarded for a wrongful death suit can vary greatly depending on several factors. These include but are not limited to:
- The age, health status, occupation, and income level of the deceased
- The relationship between the deceased and their survivors
- The manner in which they died
- Any pre-existing medical conditions or disabilities
- Whether there was insurance coverage involved
- Whether punitive damages are applicable
- The skill level of your attorney
If you have lost a loved one due to wrongful death, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit and seek compensation for your losses. Wrongful death cases can be complex, and you should consult with an experienced attorney to discuss your legal options. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.