In order to prove negligence in a wrongful death case in Los Angeles, you must establish that the person who caused your injury had a duty of care to you that they breached, leading to your injuries and the damages.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional injuries come in third among the leading causes of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. This includes lives lost to reckless drivers and negligent care facility personnel, among many others. Many types of wrongful death claims exist, including:
- Nursing home abuse
- Product liability
- Premises liability
- Assault or homicide
- Medical malpractice
- Car accidents
Fortunately, your burden of proof, or obligation to prove the case, does not involve the same standards used in criminal cases, which require the plaintiff to prove the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, civil cases, such as wrongful death, rely on the preponderance of the evidence. This involves demonstrating a greater than 50% chance that the claim holds true, as per the Legal Information Institute (LII).
Legal Criteria for Negligence
Proving negligence requires you to establish that the actions of the person who caused the fatal injuries of your loved one meet four specific criteria.
- Duty of care: This term simply refers to the reasonable level of attention and caution expected of everyone to keep others safe. For example, drivers exercise their duty of care by obeying the rules of the road and adequately surveying their surroundings at all times to avoid causing injury to others.
- Breach of duty: A person breaches this duty when they fail to act in a reasonable manner to protect those around them. If a driver chooses to speed, they breach their duty of care to those in their proximity.
- Causation: This occurs when the person’s breach of duty directly results in the injury or death of another person.
- Damages: To pursue legal action against the liable party, you must prove that the injury or death they caused led to significant damages.
Even if your loved one held partial responsibility for their injury, you may still qualify to seek financial awards.
Things to Consider in Your Wrongful Death Case
Keep in mind that while specific information can help you prove your case, irrelevant details can cause distraction and complicate the process. Everything you apply as evidence in your case should have a direct connection to the circumstances surrounding the loss of your loved one. If they have suffered fatal injuries in a premises liability case, for instance, medical records detailing their treatment for unrelated diseases can mask the true purpose of your claim.
When considering what to use as evidence in your case, you may want to use the criteria for negligence as a starting point. You may want to evaluate:
- What specific event caused the death of your loved one
- How the liable party’s breach of duty led to your loved one’s death
- If your loved one made any errors for which they hold a portion of the responsibility for the injuries in their case
- If the liable party intended to harm your loved one
- If the liable party acted in a negligent manner
- What types of injuries your loved one suffered before their death
- What types of financial damages your loved one incurred
- How your loved one’s death affected you emotionally, mentally, and financially
This process can feel overwhelming to the families of victims, but you do not have to face the legal system alone. A lawyer can help you use the information you recorded to prove negligence in a wrongful death case and hold the person responsible for the fatal injuries they caused.
How a Lawyer Can Help
Lawyers can guide you through every step of your claim to help you seek accountability and recovery for your loss. A lawyer and their team may help relieve the burden of handling your case on your own by:
- Investigating the circumstances of your case
- Gathering documentation, statements, and other types of evidence to establish liability and build your case
- Filing your claim on your behalf
- Assessing your damages
- Exploring your options for seeking financial recovery
- Handling all communication with the opposing legal team and/or insurance companies
- Keeping you updated through the process
- Addressing any questions or concerns you may have in a timely manner
Pursuing a wrongful death claim in California involves specific requirements and deadlines that you may find difficult to manage on your own, but an attorney can manage your case on your behalf and fight for fair compensation.
Hire a Lawyer Today to Get Started on Your Case
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, we understand the devastating effects that the loss of a loved one can have on your life. Our lawyers can help you seek the financial recovery you may be entitled to. Contact us today at (800) 223-5115 to speak with our legal team about your free case evaluation.