The 4 Elements Of A Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Posted on December 6, 2021 in Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Wrongful death cases arise in various ways throughout the state of Oregon. Anytime a person loses their life due to the careless or negligent actions of another individual, business, or entity, their family members or estate may be able to file a wrongful death claim in civil court. Here, we want to examine the four elements that must be present for a wrongful death claim to be successful.
1. Duty of Care
The first element of a wrongful death lawsuit is establishing that there was a duty of care between the deceased and the alleged negligent party (the defendant). The plaintiffs in the case (family members or the estate) must show that the defendant owed the deceased a duty, though this duty of care will look different depending on the situation.
One example of duty of care revolves around the duty that every driver has to operate their vehicle safely on the roadway. Property owners typically owe a duty of care to every person who has the right to be on their premises. Again, the duty of care will look different depending on the specific factors related to the wrongful death claim.
2. Breach of Duty of Care
After a duty of care has been established between the deceased and the defendant, it has to be shown that the defendant breached their duty of care in some way. A defendant will have breached their duty of care if they acted or failed to act in a reasonable manner towards the deceased.
A breach of duty of care will look different depending on the situation. For example, a driver operating while impaired by drugs will have likely breached their duty of care to others on the roadway. Property owners who fail to fix rotten wooden stairs leading up to their main entrance after knowing about the problem will certainly have breached their duty of care.
After establishing that a duty of care was present and that there was a breach of duty, plaintiffs must show that the defendant’s breach of duty directly led to the injuries or illness that caused the wrongful death. Just because a person breached their duty of care does not necessarily mean that they were responsible for the death.
The last element of a wrongful death claim is showing that the breach of duty of care caused the death and ultimately led to quantifiable expenses for the plaintiff. This can include medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages, loss of consortium damages, pain and suffering damages, and more.
Working With a Skilled Wrongful Death Lawyer
If you have lost somebody that you love as a result of the careless or negligent actions of another individual or entity in Oregon, you need to work with a skilled Portland wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. A wrongful death lawyer can handle every aspect of these complicated claims on behalf of their client. They will conduct a full investigation into the incident, gather all evidence needed to prove liability, and make sure that all four elements of the claim are present. Importantly, an attorney will handle all negotiations with the insurance carriers and other parties involved, and they will fully prepare the case for trial if necessary.