When a loved one passes, friends and family members often wish to find someone to blame for their loss. In certain cases, those left behind decide to take legal action if they feel their loved one died needlessly. In this situation, a wrongful death suit may be filed. However, three elements must be proven for the wrongful death suit to be successful. What are these elements and what do they involve?
Duty of Care
In order to win a wrongful death case, the plaintiff must be able to demonstrate that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased individual. This element of wrongful death claims is often misunderstood by those who wish to bring legal action against another person for the death of a loved one. How is duty of care legally determined?
Courts look at how a reasonable person would act in a similar situation. Furthermore, they look to see if the actions of the defendant put others at risk. This is why so many men and women find duty of care confusing. It varies depending on where and how the accident occurred that led to the death of one or more people.
The court considers any relevant rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to the case. In addition, when determining duty of care, the relationship between the parties is taken into account. For example, parents must fulfill certain legal obligations when it comes to their children and doctors must provide a certain level of care for patients they are treating.
Breach of Duty of Care
Once it has been determined the defendant did owe a duty of care to the person who has passed, it must be shown that this duty of care was breached by the accused individual. If the defendant acted in a manner that most people would when faced with similar circumstances, this is not a breach of duty and the defendant will be found not guilty. However, if he or she engaged in behavior that was unlike what would typically be seen in a similar situation, a breach of duty of care has likely been committed.
At this time, the court looks to see if the defendant could have foreseen harm to the plaintiff and acted to prevent it. If this harm was anticipated and the defendant did nothing to prevent it from happening, he or she has breached the duty of care. Furthermore, alternatives with a different outcome are considered, and the court looks to see if the use of one or more alternatives would be too burdensome financially or in another manner for the defendant.
Finally, the plaintiff must prove that the actions of the defendant led to the person’s death. For instance, a mechanical failure of equipment in a car cannot be held liable for any deaths that occurred as a result of an accident following this failure of equipment. The driver could not prevent mechanical failure unless he or she failed to maintain the car as required. A direct connection between the actions of the defendant and the death of a person must be found in order to find the defendant guilty of wrongful death.
Proving the wrongful death of a loved one is not an easy process. For this reason, anyone wishing to bring legal action of this type against another party should consult with an attorney. Doing so ensures the plaintiff has a strong case before it proceeds. This is of great help to those who are already dealing with their grief and the emptiness resulting from the loss of this individual.