The unexpected loss of a loved one is shocking and overwhelming. In addition to the immense grief and sadness family members are likely to experience, feelings of anger and resentment may arise if the death could have been prevented. When a family loses a loved one as the result of someone else’s actions, they can file a civil claim to protect and secure their future. In order to maximize your chances of filing a successful claim, it’s important to work with a Wheeling wrongful death lawyer.
In the eyes of the law, a wrongful death is the result of the careless, reckless, or negligent actions or inactions of another person or entity. With the number of state laws that impact a claim, it’s imperative to work in an experienced law firm so you can hold the negligent party accountable and seek the compensation you need to move forward.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
When a wrongful death claim is filed, a focus is placed on the cause of death. Determining the cause and proving how negligence is related is part of building a successful claim that provides a family with the compensation they need to move forward. There are a variety of situations that result in wrongful death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional falls, motor vehicle traffic accidents, and unintentional poisonings are the most common causes of accidental deaths.
Car wrecks can result in fatal injuries. Speeding, texting and driving, or driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are reckless and negligent actions that cause crashes. When a commercial truck is involved, fatalities are even more common because of the size difference between passenger vehicles and tractor-trailers. Motorcyclists are also at risk for fatal injuries because of the lack of protection provided by their vehicle.
Workplace accidents and poorly maintained properties can result in unexpected falls. The negligent party could be an employer or a property owner. Elderly people are particularly at risk of falling. Fatal injuries are often related to the brain and spine.
Other areas of wrongful death include medical malpractice, dangerous products, and criminal acts. Working with an attorney ensures your claim is filed properly for the area of litigation it falls under.
Proving Negligence in a Wrongful Death Claim
Depending on the type of accident that resulted in your loved one’s passing, proving negligence can be a challenge. When you work with a skilled lawyer, we’ll handle building the claim for you. The first step is proving a duty of care existed. We’ll prove that the defendant owed your loved one a duty of care. This means that they had an obligation to take actions that would not result in harm. For example, drivers have an obligation to others on the road to remain focused and avoid distractions.
After the duty of care has been established, we’ll show how the negligent party breached that duty. Actions like texting and driving, failing to maintain a property, or operating on a patient while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are all considered negligent.
The final factor in proving negligence is causation. It’s not sufficient to show how the defendant broke the law or breached their duty. Your attorney will need to prove that the negligent party’s action directly caused the death.
Since a wrongful death claim is considered a civil case, the burden of proof relies on a preponderance of evidence. This means that is has to be more likely than not that the defendant caused the deceased’s death. A burden of proof is not related to the quantity of evidence a plaintiff presents, but the quality.
If a criminal case is being filed at the same time the evidence for that needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.
Experienced Legal Representation in West Virginia
We understand that there’s no way to put a value on your loved one’s life. It can be challenging to look toward the future when you and your family are mourning an unexpected loss, but neglecting to do so could jeopardize your financial situation, especially if you relied on your deceased loved one’s income. That’s why filing a claim with the guidance of a Wheeling wrongful death lawyer is a way to ensure your family has the support they need.
At DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, we handle wrongful death claims with the utmost respect and sensitivity. We’ll guide you through the process and handle the difficult conversations and paperwork for you. While we focus on building a claim that proves your loved one’s passing never should have happened, you’ll have the opportunity to spend time with your family and restore order in your everyday life. To learn more about the claims process or for a free case evaluation, contact our office today.