Wrongful death refers to the death caused by a wrongful act or negligence of another person. It involves all types of fatal accidents from simple car accidents to complicated medical malpractice or product liability cases. A wrongful death claim is filed against a person who can be held liable for a death. Such lawsuits seek compensation for the survivors’ loss, such as lost wages from the deceased, lost companionship, and funeral expenses. Wrongful death statutes vary from state to state, and often a surviving spouse, immediate family members, children, or parents of a deceased fetus can sue for wrongful death. Clear evidence and better documentation are crucial to a successful wrongful death case.
Wrongful death attorneys gather the necessary evidence to make compelling arguments in support of the claim. Medical records are crucial evidence, which can be summarized with the support of medical review solutions provided by reliable companies.
Common causes of wrongful death include birth injuries, medical malpractice, motorcycle, commercial truck, or automobile accidents, plane crash, occupational hazards or exposure, product liability accidents, premises accidents, abuse or neglect at assisted living facilities or nursing homes, criminal actions such as stabbings, shootings, or other violence.
According to John Foy Associates, to successfully bring a wrongful death cause of action, the plaintiff must prove four key elements such as –
- The defendant owed the deceased a duty of care
- That duty of care was breached
- The breached duty of care resulted in the victim’s death
- The resulting death caused the damages mentioned in the claim
Proving each of these elements in a wrongful death suit often calls for strong evidence of each point.
Evidence Required for Wrongful Death Claim
For proving wrongful death claims, attorneys might require different types of evidence including:
The medical records of the deceased serve as the most critical evidence to be collected in the case of a wrongful death suit. With accurate review of medical records, lawyers can find points to confirm that the deceased person’s injuries are directly connected to the negligent party’s actions. These records also highlight hospitalizations and medical expenses.
For instance, medical malpractice-related wrongful death requires records such as doctor’s notes, test results, consultation records, evaluations, prescription information, or other healthcare documentation. Proper medical record analysis is important to evaluate the details in these records and find key information that can support the lawsuit.
Lawyers require as much information as possible about how the victim died. A copy of the official death certificate also notes the precise date and time of death and clearly mentions the actual cause of death, such as a road accident or a construction accident. This certificate is verified by the coroner and is an essential piece of evidence for any wrongful death case.
Police and autopsy reports
If the cause of the death is a car accident or a premises liability accident such as a slip and fall, the police would have investigated the situation and a report would have been prepared in connection with the investigation. Copies of any police reports prepared in connection with the accident or investigation is good evidence to prove the case. In case of medical malpractice, a full autopsy report can be collected, as it indicates whether medical error was the cause of death. For medication errors, a toxicology report will provide clear evidence.
Credible witnesses can be very useful in a wrongful death claim. If any person has witnessed the incident that led to the victim’s death, lawyers can consider taking the interviews of these witnesses to prove the claim.
Pay stubs and tax returns
Tax returns, pay stubs and other financial records are necessary for the attorney to calculate the value of the wrongful death claim. It helps to determine the lost wages, financial loss and other damages. Medical expenses related to the final illness or condition can also be highlighted with such records.
Photos or videos
Photographs of the accident scene or video footage of the accident are powerful forms of evidence in any wrongful death case. With such evidences, make sure that the time and date are stamped on the printed or digital files.
Just like a personal injury claim, a wrongful death claim includes damages like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering the deceased experienced before death. However, in some cases, certain government agencies or government employees may be immune or cannot be sued for any involvement in a wrongful death. While collecting medical records as evidence, attorneys can use medical review solutions to get accurate medical summaries that give a clear overview of all details relevant to the case.