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How Do You Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?

Wrongful death arises when the death of a person is caused by the legal fault of another person. Wrongful death cases are common aspects of medical malpractice cases, negligence-based accidents, or intentional acts such as crimes. 

Wrongful death claims, which can be filed by the deceased’s surviving spouse or partner, children, grandchildren, legal guardians, parents, or dependents, may allow the deceased’s family members to recover their financial losses from the party at fault. 

Proving that a death is wrongful and that the other party’s negligence was the direct cause of the death can be challenging. A California-based wrongful death attorney can help build a compelling case so the family members can recover damages that they’re entitled to.

What Are the Causes of Wrongful Death?

Here are some examples of acts that can lead to a wrongful death:

  • Drowning
  • Child/elderly abuse or neglect
  • Assault and battery
  • Manslaughter or murder
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Car accidents
  • Medical malpractice

Survivors can bring a wrongful death claim to seek monetary damages over the death of a family member due to any of the events listed above. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil case, so a person that may have been acquitted in a criminal case may still be held liable for damages. These damages will account for the loss of companionship, love, or financial support and serve as compensation for their sorrow, grief, and emotional suffering.

How Do I Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Claim?

Before damages can be awarded, the plaintiff in the action must prove the following elements:

  1. That there was a duty of care on the part of the defendant: The duty of care can vary depending on the situation. For instance, a driver has a duty of care to drive safely.
  2. That the duty of care was breached: A breach happens they engage in negligent actions that don’t conform to their duty of care. For example, a driver violates traffic laws or drives under the influence.
  3. That this breach of duty led to the wrongful death of the plaintiff’s loved one: Perhaps the most critical one in this list is establishing causation. The plaintiff must successfully prove that the negligence of the defendant in performing their duty of care led to the death of their family member.
  4. That the wrongful death caused financial, emotional, and physical losses to the plaintiff: Some of the common damages in a wrongful death claim include loss of future income, funeral and burial costs, loss of financial support, loss of household services, and the loss of support, companionship, or protection.

All of the elements above need to exist before the case can prosper. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff’s side. If they’re unable to prove that all four elements exist, they won’t be compensated for their losses.

Our California Wrongful Death Attorneys are Here to Help

Proving negligence in a wrongful death action isn’t easy, especially when you’re still reeling from the loss of your loved one. It’s crucial to have top-notch legal representation during such a trying time. Your counsel will help you present compelling evidence that all the elements of a wrongful death exist. They’ll help make sure that the burden of proof is met so that you can recover the right amount of compensation for your losses. 

Our attorneys know that wrongful death cases can be both emotionally and legally complex.  We’ll help you understand your rights and options, and give you a better chance at justice. If you believe you have a wrongful death case on your hands, contact us online or call (619) 550-1355 to schedule a consultation.


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