• Attorney Discusses Wrongful Death Elements

    Wrongful Death

    Former U.S. Marine Trial Lawyer and California Personal Injury Firm.
    Proving Wrongful Death Elements Nationwide.

  • Proving the elements in a Los Angeles wrongful death lawsuit

    Wrongful Death Elements

    Legal Support for Negligent Death Accident Victims Across California

Are you seeking legal advice or conducting law school or journalistic citations about wrongful death law from a wrongful death lawyer? Below is the latest cutting-edge legal info available on how to prove wrongful death cases and making a wrongful death claim.

This data covers the most devastating tort claim known, the infamous wrongful death case, as enunciated by world famous wrongful death attorney, Michael Ehline.

If you hired a lawyer referral service or hired a lawyer from attorney listings or paid attorney advertising, you may be having having second thoughts.

If you don’t want a lawyer who works briefly to get the case, but then ignores your repeated calls and emails, you came to the right place. At the end, we will discuss how to fire your present injury firm, and switch to the top flight litigators at Ehline Law Firm.

First of all, if someone’s death results from the negligence of another person or entity, and surviving family members exist, they can take legal action and file a wrongful death lawsuit civil action against the liable person(s) (Defendant(s)). A tort expert known as a wrongful death lawyer is the professional who brings the action on the victim’s behalf.

A wrongful death lawsuit allows surviving family members to seek justice on behalf of a loved one who passed away due to an act of carelessness or violence. A judge will ultimately decide if you have enough evidence to prove your case and establish a reasonable likelihood of success before a jury.

Below, tort lawyer, Michael P. Ehline, explains everything you must know about wrongful death elements and burdens of proof. Of course, if you need more info besides the below examples, call toll-free at (833) WIN-CASE.

Wrongful Death Case Burdens and Elements Index

  • Burden of Proof
  • Statute of Limitations?
  • Elements of a Winning Injury Claim
  • The Details
  • Pursuing a Personal Injury Death Case
  • Choosing Us

    Based on the information provided, not all accidental deaths, warrant filing wrongful death lawsuits in every case. There are specific criteria that make up wrongful death cases. So what evidentiary threshold, allegations, or testimony must exist to constitute the burden of proof for any surviving victims?

    What Is the Burden of Proof for A Wrongful Death Claim?

    The burden of proof permitted or mandated for a negligent killing varies from state to state.

    But California law requires the plaintiff to explain and prove the element of negligence by a preponderance of the evidence.

    Some states instruct the juries to determine if beyond doubt, the Defendant caused the deceased death, similar to California’s clear and convincing evidence burden in a fraud cause, but not as high as a California criminal murder case.

    The burden of proof for those still alive to be compensated isn’t measured by amount of evidence, or who has more witnesses at trial. Instead, the quality of evidence is calculated as the most important factor.

    NOTE: Most importantly, many lawsuits are resolved pretrial, spelled out in settlement agreements; many other cases get to trial, depending credibility of non privileged or non excluded evidence and how its treated by the trial court. If you convince the other side you have strong evidence, it makes things less complicated to evaluate everything to be awarded.

    Civil Wrongful Death Defined In Nutshell

    Definition of wrongful death: The death of a close family member or life partner under a “civil union.” When a loved one passes away from natural causes, a dark tragedy befalls the whole family.

    But when a wrongful death occurs, the situation becomes worse. A non-natural death makes the survivors feel cheated. Because another person took away in many cases, the sole provider, bankruptcy looms around the corner.

    Be that as it may, the family has rights. As a result, dependents can file a claim against the negligent party. (the Defendant). By and large, this acts to reclaim losses due to the death of a loved one. (the decedent).

    But the ends of justice become served. Now families have closure. At this point, the family can move on with their lives.

    Winning A Wrongful Death Claim – Knowing Each Element Aids in Success

    Generally, the plaintiff must show the same elements attendant with any other personal injury claim. To Prove wrongful death, the plaintiff must show defendant acted negligently, or committed a reckless, intentional act.

    • The Four Basic Elements of Wrongful Death

    Proving the death of a person caused by the negligence; or wilful intent of another and that the survivors lost love, affection (aka emotional support), financial support, physical support, such as yard work, doing dishes, etc. (past, present, and future) requires a systematic approach for the parties, court, and jury to consider.

    Here are four parts to consider:

    • Negligence: If the Defendant failed their duty, thereby leading to the person’s death, the deceased family members have to prove this as negligent actions.
    • Breach of Duty: You must prove defendant owed a duty of reasonable care (special duty owed by a common carrier) to the plaintiff. Plaintiff presents proof based upon a preponderance of evidence (not the criminal beyond a reasonable doubt standard), that the deceased victim died from a breach of duty. For instance, a motorist might break traffic laws, thereby causing your loved one’s death. Doctors, too, are held responsible if their negligence causes birth injuries.
    • Causation: By proving the Defendant’s breach of duty as a reason for the deceased person’s passing, the lawsuit plaintiff, has to demonstrate how the Defendant’s negligence caused the victim’s death.
    • Damages: The family member’s death must have caused quantifiable damages such as medical expenses, financial losses, funeral, burial costs, loss of income, pain and suffering, and more.

    Proving these four critical elements in court as wrongful death claims generally requires the services of a powerful, intelligent attorney if you don’t want to get ripped off.

    One: Negligence Elements of Wrongful Death Duty

    The first element remains duty. Did the killer owe the decedent a duty to do or not do something and then breach that duty?

    • Why did decedent die?
    • Was it a natural cause, or supervening, intervening cause breaking the chain of liability?

    If so, no duty owed was breached, case dismissed.


    For example, a family cannot sue a doctor or hospital if their loved one dies naturally from cancer. But if the caretakers exposed the patient to radiation or harmful drugs, there could be a wrongful death lawsuit.

    In that rare case, cancer came from a wrongful act or negligence. But your lawyer must show the Defendant or its agents caused the death. For example, there may be other defendants who caused the decedent’s cancer. (like an asbestos maker).

    Two: If Defendant Caused, the Damage was it Negligent or Intentional?

    Did the Defendant do it on purpose? So the next element deals with two sub-elements, with the same outcome; that is whether:

    • Negligence or;
    • A Willful Act caused the death.


    A willful act would include shooting someone in the head at point-blank. Contrast this with negligence. A negligent act is rear-ending someone while busy talking on your cell phone. (This could also qualify as a “Reckless Act” depending upon the given facts).

    Element Three:

    Did the Survivor suffer a Loss?

    One would think this would prove easy. But you would get surprised to see how many families have estranged relations. For this reason, they would probably recover more in “intestate succession” than in a wrongful death lawsuit!

    Element Four:

    Elements of a Wrongful Death Damages Claim Explained:

    If the loss you suffered caused actual, legal damages, you will have a valid claim. Here are some examples of wrongful death damages.

    • Loss of love: And it includes things like sex, and just the love loss itself.
    • Financial Support: Money remains a significant factor. How much did your loved one provide? Was they a doctor or a lawyer? Or was the dead person a garbage collector? Was they contributing to an education fund for the survivors, etc.?
    • Physical support also has financial value. So if your husband provided housework etc., chores, you have to pay someone. Or it would help if you took time from your job. Understood? And yes, you become entitled to money for the past, present, and future.

    Who are the Parties in a Wrongful Death Case?

    The person bringing a civil, wrongful death lawsuit is called the Plaintiff. In a wrongful death case, the Plaintiff is typically a close family member who brings the claim on behalf of all heirs of the deceased.

    Who Can file a Claim?

    The family member or estate representative of the victim always brings the claim. In all states, a husband can file a wrongful death lawsuit over the loss of their deceased spouse. Parents can file a wrongful death lawsuit over the killing of their kids.

    Kids who are not minors sue over their parents. To recap a spouse, children, or stepchildren, grandparents and life partners covered under civil unions may have rights to sue. The plaintiff even may be a surviving relative if the deceased had a will.

    Guardian ad Litem?

    Children, if incompetent minors, will have the lawsuit filed by a parent or guardian ad litem (learn more here.) Typically, the guardian hires wrongful death attorneys, or a firm to prepare and file the court case. Although there are self help services, and you can even file a small court claim without a lawyer, a death claim will require a level of legal expertise most surviving victims will never attain. As discussed above, proof of monetary damages will need to be proven in court.

    if the relationship between the deceased and the estate representative (person in charge of the deceased’s estate) isn’t strong, the harder it is to pursue wrongful death cases.

    In some places, romantic acquaintances are enough to present a claim by the romantic spouse of the deceased or the financial dependent.

    At Ehline Law Firm, we help you file a wrongful death action and prove the elements of a wrongful killing. You can talk to our attorney to get a free consultation to understand the case.

    Liable Defendant?

    The person this case is brought against is called a defendant. The plaintiff must have a solid case to prove all the elements of a wrongful death caused by negligent behavior, or failed duty of care.

    At Ehline Law Firm, we offer you a free evaluation and free case review to delve out these matters on your behalf.

    Wrongful Death Common Causes

    Of all the elements of a wrongful death, what causes the negligent homicide remains the primary focus. Inattentive driving, drunk driving and intentional acts alleged in your civil lawsuit or settlement demand to the insurance company must be clearly and concisely alleged.

    Also, if you present evidence the death occurred due to an intentional act, your personal injury attorney won’t be able to recover liability insurance proceeds on behalf of the deceased person’s close relatives.

    However, the court in a criminal case may award the family restitution payments and the at fault party and any third parties are still on the hook to pay damages out of pocket. An example might be a hit and run when a person failed to drive carefully or in a manner that was safe for road conditions.

    Here are some common causes:

    • A car accident running over a pedestrian or motorcyclist.
    • Medical malpractice caused by medical health providers
    • Negligent act from someone using automated technology
    • Work injuries
    • Failure to drive safely.

    Survival Action?

    The deceased victim will have left behind a family. These close relatives are usually able to file the survivors’ claim legally.

    Pursuing Your Negligent Killing Claim

    To pursue a wrongful death suit, one must prove the elements. Presently, the decedent’s survivors must prove, among other things, they suffered a financial loss. Sad relatives must also show loss of love and affection.

    Plus, they should show other emotional damages. (this could be billed for psychology treatments and anti-depression meds). Also, the executor/executrix of the estate generally makes this claim. This person represents the decedent’s wishes on behalf of all other parties.

    But parties can include the spouse, the children, other immediate or dependent loved ones. Last, family, such as parents or siblings, or beneficiaries, remain potential parties.

    Plus, it must get demonstrated to the court that the parties suffered losses. Last, they must have a monetary value. So examples include medical, funeral expenses, and burial costs. These are tangible items your wrongful death attorney will use to help prove your reasonable damages.

    But they also include loss of a supporting income in the family. Also, they can include the loss of your potential inheritance or the loss of a caretaker.

    In effect, once your lawyer proves the loss of life was caused when defendant breached the duty of care, part two means your wrongful death attorney must prove damages. Making sense so far? It’s basically a bifurcated formula that takes two steps.

    When is a Wrongful Death Claim Applicable?

    A wrongful death claim may arise when a person injured was denied a fair claims process. In many instances, the employer might refuse to accept a personal injury lawsuit, resulting in death.

    Citizens are admonished to obey traffic laws, but failure to do so can result in an accident that shows a breach of duty, and thereby death lawsuit can be served.

    What is the Average Payout in a Wrongful Death Suit?

    A wrongful death case has its unique value depending on the circumstances and the law governing the case.

    But the average pay for a wrongful death settlement is between $500,000 to over $1 million. It can be less than that, or it can be more, depending on the case.

    Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations Issues?

    Your injury claim must get filed within the two-year time limit in the state of California. But exceptions apply.

    Your rights to sue could become limited by statute or the Government Code, for example. Call us with any questions about the deceased person or who you think should be held liable or owed duty of care.

    Schedule a free legal consultation. Act quickly, as your rights and times to sue may vary depending upon parties or a contract.

    Need Professional Help? Talk to a Wrongful Death Attorney About Bringing A Wrongful Death Claim

    At Ehline Law Firm, we have done it before:

    $2,024,761 Recovery, Ducket v. Ridgecrest Regional Hospital for Wrongful Death During a Routine Appendectomy.

    $2,000,000 Recovery, Hier v. the State of California (Caltrans) helped a family whose grandmother died in an automobile accident When Her Car Fell Down a Cliff With Improper Safety Barriers to Prevent these hazards.

    $1,000,000 Recovery, Distler v. Redondo Beach Unified School District. Defendant Cabinet Maker Earning $15,000 a Year Killed by RBUSD Employee. These are just a few of wrongful death claims we have been able to help people with after forming an attorney-client relationship in accordance with California State Bar guidelines..

    Talk to a Wrongful Death Defendant to Get Your Wrongful Death Claim Filed Timely

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    In other words, our wrongful death lawyers can take over your case from your present attorney after a free case evaluation and you answer a few questions to get the paperwork started. We can handle everything on your behalf, the deceased person’s estate, or its personal representative.

    We have acted pro hac vice in New York, Florida and other states. If you have a wrongful death lawsuit, chances are we can help you or your loved ones.

    We are standing by to help the surviving family members receive an award of maximum compensation under the law when people act negligently. Call us today at (833) LETS-SUE. Or use our RISK FREE online, “free consultations,” contact form to learn more. Briefly tell us about your case, provide your contact information and we’ll be in touch!*

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