The pain of losing a family member is always devastating, but even more so when you know it should not have happened. And it makes no difference whether the person is young, fit, and in the prime of life, a senior citizen dealing with the effects of time, or anyone in between, the feeling of loss is compounded by the anger of knowing that their loved one would have had years of life left ahead of them had not someone flouted the safety rules or acted without thinking. Yet this type of tragedy strikes families all over the country, leading them to pursue what is known as a wrongful death lawsuit.
Because a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action, the burden of proof is set a bit lower than would be required in a criminal case. But this doesn’t mean that the wrongful death lawsuit process doesn’t involve an extensive amount of forensic investigation. What it does mean is that rather than having to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the success of the lawsuit depends on a preponderance of the evidence that established the fact that the deceased person would still be alive had not the action (or failure to act) occurred at the hands of the defendant.
Causes of Wrongful Death
Immediate causes of wrongful death can include birth injuries; medical malpractice; automobile, motorcycle, or commercial truck accidents; premises accidents; occupational exposure to hazardous elements; defective product; assisted living and nursing home negligence or abuse; lack of supervision on school, daycare or eldercare field trips.
Establishing the Occurrence of a Wrongful Death in Abilene
Wrongful death is legally defined as a death that is caused by the negligence or recklessness of another person, persons, or entity. And the purpose of filing a wrongful death lawsuit is to seek compensation for the financial and emotional damage inflicted on those left behind and dealing with the devastation of losing a loved one which may include parents, children, and spouses. But before a lawsuit can be filed, it must be proved that the death was wrongful in the eyes of the law.
Legally speaking, four elements must be involved in order for a death to be declared wrongful. In order to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Abilene, it must be proven that all four elements were in play:
- Negligence on the part of the defending entity was the sole cause of the death of the victim. This element also includes reckless or careless action.
- Breach of Duty, a term that implies that the defending party owed a type of duty to the deceased. For example, a motorist owes a duty to other drivers to obey the traffic laws and drive safely. An employer owes a duty to his workers to maintain a safe workplace, and a medical practitioner owes his or her patients the duty to carefully follow safe medical procedures in the interest of maintaining a patient’s health.
- Causation must be proved in addition to breach of duty and negligence. In other words, the plaintiff must establish beyond a doubt that the act in question was the sole reason the person died.
- Quantifiable damages such as medical expenses and/or hospitalization, funeral and cremation or burial charges, loss of potential income, companionship, guidance, and protection must have been inflicted on the remaining family members, in addition to the mental and emotional pain of knowing or imagining the suffering their lost loved one went through just prior to his or her death.
Gathering all this evidence requires questioning and taking the depositions of witnesses, researching tort laws, and conferring with expert witnesses. Then if the claim is found to be reasonable, the legal team will go on to develop a strategy. Depending on the case, the strategy may involve making demands, seeking mediation, or offering the possibility of a settlement in lieu of a lawsuit or claim. However, failing to arrive at a meeting of the minds on the feasibility of an out-of-court settlement, the next step of the wrongful death lawsuit process is to file a petition that the case goes to trial.
The Importance of Having a Skilled and Experienced Law Team
Once the wrongful death lawsuit process arrives at this step, the success of the case depends on the ability of the legal team to, first of all, build a solid case that establishes that the burdens of proof have been met, established, and corroborated. And having accomplished that foundation, select the attorney who is best skilled in presenting the facts in a way that clearly establishes the fact that were it not for negligence or reckless endangerment, the deceased at the root of the case would have been alive and well, and thus the bereaved plaintiffs are deserving of an adequate and reasonable financial award.
Losing a loved one is always painful but knowing the only reason they died is that someone was careless, reckless, or failed to follow procedures and take proper precautions is devastating. Although it will not bring the loved one back to you, you can get a certain amount of justice for him, by filing a wrongful death lawsuit which, if successful, will grant you a monetary remuneration. At this time you may be too consumed by grief and anger, to think much past tomorrow but if you live in Abilene, Texas, you can call on a law firm with a team of experienced and sympathetic Wrongful Death Lawyers in Abilene with a record or winning cases similar to yours. Give them a call for a consultation and see how they can help you