Benefits Of Hiring Lawyers For Workers Compensation Cases

Do You Have a Wrongful Death Case?

by Marilyn Olson

The requirements under wrongful death law regarding who can pursue a claim leave a fairly narrow group of people who can file one or be the subject of one. If someone you cared about died and you believe something bad happened, here are the factors a lawyer will ask you to consider.

Legal Standing Is Mostly About Family Relationships

Legal standing, the idea of who even has the right to pursue damage, is the first thing you need to establish. Folks who have the required standing to make wrongful death claims are almost always minor dependents, parents, or marital partners.

Even a very close relative, like a sibling, is going to have a hard time making a claim. The only serious consideration the court might give to other people is when a quasi-parental relationship, known legally as loco parentis, exists. Business partners, romantic interests, and similar parties are unlikely to even get started with claims, and the court typically dismisses their cases without prejudice.

Proving a Proximate Cause

The next biggest challenge is demonstrating that a proximate cause resulted in a death. Notably, the proximate cause has to be an action or some form of inaction that amounts to recklessness, negligence, or malice.

The reasonableness of the alleged responsible party's actions in relation to the proximate cause is also a major factor. For example, an EMT who was administering CPR to an elderly heart attack patient probably wouldn't be liable for a wrongful death if the patient suffered fatal injuries as a result of chest compressions. This is because the EMT's actions are considered reasonable under the circumstances. Conversely, a truck driver who was speeding in bad weather probably would be found liable for deaths resulting from an accident because that behavior is considered unreasonable within the profession.

Showing a Duty of Care

The duty of care is a legal concept where certain responsibilities are assigned to people and organizations. These responsibilities are mostly about not letting others come to harm.

A duty of care is established when someone willingly engages in activities that clearly involve others. Driving a car establishes a duty to look for traffic and pedestrians. Opening a store to the public establishes a duty to ensure folks who enter it won't be hurt. Owning a building establishes a duty to see that anyone who legally lives or comes there won't be hurt or killed because of things like loose rails and crumbling steps.

For more information about wrongful death law, contact a lawyer.