When a loved one dies due to someone else's negligence, misconduct, or intentional actions, the victim's family may decide to take legal action by suing for wrongful death against the at-fault party. A wrongful death suit attempts to seek compensation for the losses suffered by the surviving family members.
An experienced wrongful death attorney such as those at Moore Law can help you file a lawsuit, guide you through the legal process, and recover compensation for the economic and non-economic damages you have suffered.
We will delve into:
- The different factors that can impact your chances of winning a wrongful death suit
- The types of damages and compensation you may pursue with a wrongful death claim
Factors Influencing the Outcome of Wrongful Death Lawsuits
How do you prove wrongful death has occurred? Under Ohio law, a wrongful death is a one due to someone else's "wrongful act, neglect, or default" such that, if the victim had survived, it would have entitled them to recover damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit. In this way, wrongful death suits are very similar to personal injury lawsuits, and much of the evidence is also the same.
There are a number of wrongful death elements that can affect the outcome of this type of legal claim. For those seeking information on how to win a wrongful death lawsuit, this section will break down some of these factors.
Importance of Negligence in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If someone does not use reasonable care in a situation in which they have a duty to do so, and this lack of reasonable care causes someone else's death, it is considered negligence under the law. Most wrongful death suits exist under the premise of negligence.
To prove that negligence occurred, the plaintiff must prove that:
- The defendant owed the victim a duty of care
- The defendant did not fulfill that duty
- The defendant's failure to fulfill the duty of care caused an incident that resulted in the victim's death
Some examples of situations in which a wrongful death lawsuit may apply include:
- Premises liability: The owner or manager of a property does not rectify a dangerous condition on the property or fails to provide adequate security, which causes someone's death.
- Vehicular accidents: These can involve cars, trucks, passenger or commercial vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, and boats.
- Product liability: A dangerous or defective consumer product causes the victim's death.
- Medical malpractice: A healthcare provider gives substandard care or fails to diagnose a patient's condition correctly, resulting in the patient's death.
Role of Evidence in Determining Lawsuit Success
The evidence in a wrongful death lawsuit must be strong enough to prove that the defendant's intentional actions or negligence caused the victim's death. This evidence must be compelling enough to convince the judge that the accused party was definitively responsible. The stronger the evidence the plaintiff's side presents, the higher the likelihood of the plaintiff winning the lawsuit.
Influence of Expert Witnesses in Wrongful Death Cases
To prove a wrongful death case, your attorney may call on expert witnesses to testify about different elements of the lawsuit or the victim's death. For example, police officers can testify about their experiences at the crime scene and the events of the incident, or a forensic pathologist can testify about the time, cause, and manner of death. The testimony of expert witnesses may be necessary to prove how the defendant's negligence or intentional actions caused the victim's death.
Impact of Damages and Compensation in Lawsuit Outcomes
To win a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff must establish that they suffered financial losses as a result of the victim's death.
Types of Damages Available in Wrongful Death Claims
Filing a wrongful death claim can result in the plaintiff receiving various types of damages, which are based on:
- The specific circumstances of the claim
- The coroner's determination on the death certificate
- The plaintiff's relationship to the deceased individual
- The extent of the plaintiff's losses
Often, the defendant's insurance company prefers to settle a wrongful death lawsuit rather than allowing the case to go to trial, which will undoubtedly be more costly for both the defendant and their insurance provider.
Damages awarded in wrongful death settlements can include both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages encompass the plaintiff's financial losses due to the victim's death. Examples include:
- Medical expenses incurred prior to the victim's death
- The cost of grief counseling for the plaintiff or other family members
- Funeral costs and burial expenses for the deceased
- Loss of the victim's income, both past and future
Economic damages are typically easier to prove with bills, invoices, and other such documents.
Non-economic damages are other losses the plaintiff has suffered as a result of the victim's death. These may include:
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Mental anguish and trauma
- Emotional distress
- The pain and suffering the victim experienced prior to death
- Loss of support, guidance, protection, moral education, or inheritance
- Punitive damages
Non-economic damages can be more difficult to prove because they are more subjective than economic damages. They are not easily measurable, and as such, insurance companies often try to downplay the impact of non-economic losses to avoid having to pay what they consider to be exorbitant wrongful death settlements.
Hire the Right Wrongful Death Lawyer for Your Case
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else's negligence or intentional actions, you should not have to carry the financial burden. Let the experienced wrongful death attorneys at Moore Law help you seek the damages and compensation you and your family deserve and increase your chances of winning a wrongful death suit. Contact us today.