Ways to Prove a Wrongful Death Case

Ways to Prove a Wrongful Death Case

When someone in your family dies because of someone’s negligence, you might want to file a wrongful death case against the other party. This can address the burden of financial loss associated with the person’s death. However, it can do nothing to deal with the grief you are feeling. The decision to file a wrongful death case is coupled with the necessity of proving it was due to an error on the part of another. In order to do this, you must satisfy certain elements. Let’s look at the legal elements required to show a loved one’s death was wrongful. Some may seem obvious but all are necessary.

Time Limit to File a Wrongful Death Case

In California, the family is given a specific length of time to file the case. If it is not done within that period, the case will not be heard. This period is two years from the time of the deceased’s death.

Proving the Person Is Deceased

This is a prerequisite of filing a wrongful death case. While most deaths occur in the hospital or at home with the person under a doctor’s care, many do not. There are ways to do this such as showing the court an obituary notice or evidence of a funeral or cremation.

Proving Negligence

There are elements that California courts use to prove negligence. They are transferable to a wrongful death lawsuit. The elements of negligence in a wrongful death lawsuit are:

  • Duty of care: It must be shown that the responsible party had a duty of care to the deceased.
  • Breach of duty: The wrongful death lawsuit must be able to show that the liable person breached that duty. This means that the defendant did not act in the expected way to prevent foreseeable injuries to the other person.
  • Breach leads to death: The family must show that the breach of duty led to the person’s death.
  • Financial loss: Finally, the family must prove that the individual’s death caused them financial hardship and loss.

An example of a breach of duty would be a driver who does not take any precautions when driving. This could mean operating the motor vehicle in a reckless manner or driving drunk.

Intentional Harm

Harm to another person that was intentional can lead to a wrongful death case against the perpetrator. The intentional death may be part of a criminal case against the perpetrator. The following elements are needed to prove a wrongful death case:

  • The perpetrator had the intention to harm another through a particular act.
  • The perpetrator made contact in some way with the deceased.
  • The contact caused the person’s death.

If the perpetrator is convicted of criminal charges associated with the intentional act, this may be used by the lawyer to prove the wrongful death case. This is possible since criminal charges must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The degree to which a wrongful death lawsuit must be proven is by the preponderance of the evidence. This means that the evidence proves that it is more likely than not. Due to the imbalance in the burden of proof, the results of the criminal case can be used to support the personal injury claim.

Surviving Family Suffers Financial Loss

The surviving family must prove that they suffered financial loss by the decedent’s death. An example of this would be a driver who supported his or her family and was killed by someone driving drunk. The family can show that without this support, their financial situation would suffer.


There are many damages that can be factored into a wrongful death case. Some are:

  • Funeral and burial cost
  • Loss of consortium (companionship)
  • Loss of the decedent’s income both now and in the future
  • Punitive damages (damages meant to punish the wrongdoer)

Orangevale Wrongful Death Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, an Orangevale wrongful death lawyer. A death in the family can be devastating both emotionally and financially. Though nothing will make up for your loved one’s loss, you can recover the monetary losses it generates. Having a wrongful death lawyer at your side can ensure that nothing is overlooked, and filing is done in time. Call me at (916) 921-6400 for free and friendly advice. If it is easier, call me on my toll-free line at (800) 404-5400. You can also reach out to me online.

I’ve helped many residents of Orangevale and the surrounding area receive the compensation they deserve. Some of the many areas of personal injury law include car accidents, traumatic brain injuries and catastrophic events.

I belong to two organizations among many others. They are the Million Dollar Advocates and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

You might want to learn more about my practice. To do that, go to the following pages:

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