How is Negligence Proved in a Wrongful Death Case?

Losing a loved one is incredibly difficult, particularly if the loss of life is caused by the negligent actions of another business, entity, or individual. Family members and personal representatives of the deceased individual’s estate may be able to recover compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit in Oregon. However, determining negligence is challenging. It is important to understand that various types of evidence need to be gathered, and it may be necessary to work with accident reconstruction experts to determine what happened.

Understanding the Four Elements of Negligence for Wrongful Death

In order to prove negligence in a wrongful death claim, a plaintiff and their attorney will have to establish that all four elements of negligence are present.

1. Duty

First, it has to be shown that the defendant (the person who allegedly caused the fatality) owed the deceased a duty of care. A duty of care for a wrongful death claim in Oregon will look different depending on the situation at hand. For example, every driver on the roadway owes a duty of care to other drivers around them. This means they have to operate their vehicles safely in a manner prescribed by law.

Another example of duty of care revolves around the duty that property owners owe those who have a right to be on the premises. Property owners have an obligation to ensure that there are no known hazards that could cause extreme harm to others.

2. Breach of Duty

After a duty of care between the defendant and the deceased has been established, it must be proven that there was a breach of this duty. Again, a breach of duty will look different depending on the situation under examination. For example, if a driver operates a vehicle while impaired by a controlled substance, they will likely have breached their duty of care to others around them. If a property owner knows about a hazardous elevator and fails to take steps to fix the problem, they will very likely have breached their duty of care to the patrons who have a right to be on the premises.

3. Causation

After a breach of duty of care has been established on the part of the defendant, it must be shown that this breach of duty directly led to the fatality. Following the examples mentioned above, if an impaired driver runs a red light, slams into the side of another vehicle, and causes a fatality of the occupant of the vehicle, this will likely establish causation between the breach of duty and the death.

4. Damages

Finally, it must be shown that the death led to some sort of monetary loss for the survivors of the deceased or the estate of the deceased. This can include various types of expenses, including funeral and burial expenses, pre-death medical expenses, pain and suffering damages, loss of future income and inheritance, and more.

Work With an Attorney For Your Claim

It is imperative for individuals who have lost a loved one as a result of the negligence of another individual or entity to work with a Portland wrongful death attorney. A lawyer can investigate every aspect of the claim, gather all of the evidence needed to prove the four elements of negligence, and vigorously negotiate with insurance carriers to recover maximum compensation.