When negligence on the part of another robs you of a loved one, financial compensation is probably the last thing on your mind. However, once the initial shock passes, you might want only to bring the responsible party (or parties) to justice.
You have little chance of finding justice without taking some form of legal action. Filing a wrongful death claim empowers you to hold responsible parties to account for their negligence.
The elements of a wrongful death claim
To show that another’s recklessness caused the death of your loved one, you must prove four elements under California wrongful death laws. These elements seem straightforward but — remember — you must provide evidence to support your claim:
- A person died or was killed
- The death occurred out of negligence or harmful intent
- The bereaved suffer financial injuries because of the wrongful death
- A representative in charge of the estate of the deceased has been designated to make the claim
Of these four elements, only two (the second and third) are hard to prove. The first and the fourth elements essentially prove themselves.
Evidence that can help
Wrongful death can occur in a variety of situations. A reckless motor vehicle driver could crash into your loved one. Such deaths can also happen when a medical professional makes a negligent error, leading to a fatal outcome.
You need hard evidence to strengthen your wrongful death claim and prove its elements. In a vehicle accident fatality, the police report, eyewitness testimony and lab test results (for drunk driving, etc.) can help. If the death arose from medical malpractice, look for evidence in your hospital records and records from the physician. Legal guidance improves your odds of proving your wrongful death case and finding justice for your lost loved one.