Plaintiffs Must Prove Negligence in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
There are many types of scenarios in which the death of someone can be caused by the negligence of another person, company or entity. These are considered cases of wrongful death, and in these instances, the surviving family members of the victim are entitled to seek damages from the responsible party through a wrongful death civil lawsuit.
Although criminal charges may be levied against the defendant, that process does not award damages to the deceased’s family members. Under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, the family and its attorney must present the following elements:
- Proof of duty of care. The plaintiff has to prove that the defendant was responsible for a certain amount of care for the deceased person. If the defendant had been driving a vehicle, the defendant would have had the duty to exercise a standard amount of care in driving to prevent harm to any other drivers, passengers or pedestrians.
- Proof of breach of care. Once it has been established that the defendant had a duty to exercise a reasonable amount of care for the deceased’s well being, the plaintiff has to prove that the defendant somehow breached that duty of care — for example, driving recklessly and endangering others.
- Proof of causation. The plaintiff must also prove that the defendant’s breach of the duty of care was the specific and direct cause of the wrongful death of the defendant. In some cases, the defendant may have been breaking a law, but did not directly cause the death.
In such cases, medical evidence or witness testimony tends to be the most effective way to meet the plaintiff’s burden of proof. For further guidance, consult a skilled Orlando personal injury attorney at Salazar & Kelly Law Group, P.A.