If you have experienced a death in your family and you believe that someone should be held responsible, you may be considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit. However, understanding what constitutes this type of lawsuit, and whether the defendant intentionally or negligently influenced what happened, can be challenging. Consulting with an experienced wrongful death attorney will not only help you to understand the facts, but will also educate you on how to proceed.
When Is Wrongful Death Applicable?
In order for a wrongful death claim to be valid, the victim needs to have been killed in a situation that otherwise would have qualified for a valid personal injury claim. That is, the death must have been the result of someone else’s action or inaction, and that action or inaction must be deemed either intentional or negligent on the defendant’s behalf.
The Victim Is Intentionally Killed
One of the clearest cases of wrongful death is when the victim is killed intentionally. At face value, this concept may appear to be the same as when someone is charged with murder, but there is a difference; murder is a criminal charge filed by the state, while wrongful death is a civil charge filed by the deceased victim’s estate or relatives and family. Because of this difference, it is entirely possible that someone could be charged with both murder and wrongful death and would then face two separate trials for the separate counts.
The Victim Dies Due To Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice is another common area where charges of wrongful death can be brought. When a medical practitioner is negligent or intentionally does not perform due diligence during care, this can result in a claim of medical malpractice. However, it is important to note that a negative outcome for a patient does not necessarily mean that medical malpractice occurred.
Most medical malpractice falls into the category of negligence, but rarely, recklessness can be sufficient to prove malpractice as well. Doctors who perform their work under the influence of drugs or alcohol may be considered to have acted restlessly, although this is rare.
Negligence, on the other hand, is more common and could be the cause of your wrongful death lawsuit. Medical negligence is generally considered as failing to provide the standard of care that the patient requires and that other professionals of similar skill and education would provide in the same situation. The most common types of negligence that rise to the level of malpractice are failing to diagnose a condition that is dangerous or harmful, failing to advise patients about the risks of a procedure or treatment or committing errors during surgery or other procedures.
If your loved one or someone you know died as a result of medical malpractice instances like these, you may have a case for a wrongful death suit. Be sure to keep any relevant evidence so that you can discuss it with your lawyer.
The Victim Dies In A Car Accident Due To Negligence
Car accidents are typically just that, accidental. However, just because a collision was an accident does not mean that you are unable to file a wrongful death suit. A drunk driver can be found negligent in operating a motor vehicle, as could someone driving recklessly. In these situations, among many others, the driver of the vehicle that caused the death may be found negligent, and a wrongful death case can begin, even if the accident was unintentional.
How Must Wrongful Death Be Proven?
As mentioned previously, a wrongful death charge and a murder charge are very similar. However, they carry different burdens of proof. A murder charge requires that the prosecutor establish “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant committed the murder.
However, in these types of cases, the plaintiff’s attorney must only prove that the defendant was “more likely than not” responsible for the death; this is called preponderance of the evidence, and it is typically represented as convincing the jury that there is at least a 51% chance that the defendant was responsible. The defendant must also be proven to have owed the victim a duty of care, and that failing to uphold this duty to care was the direct cause of the death.
Speak To An Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney
Navigating the complex waters of wrongful death cases can seem daunting, which is why it is in your best interest to speak with a skilled wrongful death attorney who will guide you through the process. The Brown Firm is ready to discuss your situation and any evidence you have available. We will develop a strategy that enables you to seek justice and receive the best possible outcome for your case. Reach out today by phone at (703) 828-0900 to talk to our knowledgeable team.