Elements of a Wrongful Death Case
Wrongful death can happen at any time. Unfortunately, it is more common than most people would like to think. In 2018, wrongful death through medical malpractice was the third leading cause of death, according to John’s Hopkins. When a family member passes away suddenly due to the carelessness of a medical practitioner, it often leaves their loved ones with a financial burden. With help from the right personal injury attorneys, you can file a claim that will help you get through this difficult moment.
Although these suits are complicated and require an attorney, every individual should be able to understand the elements of a wrongful death case.
When to File a Wrongful Death Suit
When a medical professional is negligent or fails to provide proper care for a patient, that is grounds for a lawsuit. This can include misdiagnosis, childbirth injuries, anesthesia errors, or surgical errors. There must be an autopsy or coroner’s report to confirm that there was a medical mistake.
You should know that wrongful death cases can happen for a variety of reasons, not just medical malpractice. This type of case can be filed after an airplane or helicopter accident, like the recent case posted by Vanessa Bryant on behalf of her late husband and daughter. Any family who has experienced the loss of a family member due to occupational negligence (exposure to chemicals in the workplace, etc.), criminal behavior, or an automobile accident can file a wrongful death suit.
What You Must Do to Win a Wrongful Death Case
In order to win the case, you must be able to prove the following:
- Negligence - It must first be proven that the family member died because of the negligence, carelessness, or recklessness of a third party. Various records, such as autopsy and coroner reports, hospital logs and journals, and police investigation reports all could provide a record of negligent behavior.
- Breach of Duty - Doctors, nurses, and all medical practitioners have a duty to maintain a patient’s health through a certain protocol. The driver of an automobile has a duty to operate their vehicle in a safe, reasonable, and lawful manner. The plaintiff must show that the death was caused by a breach of the duty or protocol that was owed by the wrongful party.
- Causation - It sounds similar, but in addition to breach of duty, the plaintiff must prove that the death was caused due to the negligence and breach of duty.
- Damages - There must be quantifiable damages such as hospital bills, funeral expenses, loss of income and potential earnings, loss of protection, guidance, or inheritance, and pain and suffering.
Additionally, in Virginia, along with most of the country, there is a two-year statute of limitations to bring a wrongful death action. It’s vital to investigate, prepare, and file suit, if necessary, as soon as possible. In certain cases, families only have six months to file necessary and required paperwork against some city and state facilities.
Calculating the Value of Damages
In a wrongful death case, the financial loss is referred to as “pecuniary injuries,” which includes the loss of support, services, inheritance, medical, and funeral expenses. These are calculated based on age, health, financial standing, career, and many other factors. Your lawyers will work with a team of experts that look for a realistic number, based on evidence. There is no set average for the value of a wrongful death suit - it all depends on each family’s personal challenges.
Call a Local Attorney
At the Alexander Law Group, PLC, we have a team of attorneys that will work tirelessly to make sure you get the compensation your family deserves. In a moment of tragedy, it’s best to call an experienced lawyer who understands the sensitivity of the issue at hand and will fight for your family in their moment of need. Call us at 804-271-1969 to talk to a personal injury lawyer about your wrongful death case today.