Wrongful death describes a fatal injury caused by the neglect, default or wrongful act of another person. If you lost a loved one in a preventable accident in Kansas City, your family may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim against the person or party responsible.
Although nothing can replace the life of a beloved family member, holding someone accountable can bring your family justice and financial compensation. To hold someone accountable for wrongful death in Missouri, however, you must prove your case.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
Proving wrongful death starts with understanding the elements needed for this type of lawsuit in Missouri. Most wrongful death claims are based on the legal doctrine of negligence. Negligence in wrongful death law refers to a careless act or omission that causes injury or harm to another person.
To prove someone’s negligence, you or your wrongful death attorney must show evidence of four main elements:
The defendant owed your loved one a duty to exercise reasonable care.
The defendant breached or violated his or her duty of care to your loved one.
The defendant’s breach of duty was the proximate cause of your loved one’s fatal injury.
Your family suffered compensable losses as a result of the death.
If a lawyer bases your wrongful death claim on a doctrine other than negligence, such as strict liability, you may not need to prove a breach of the duty of care to recover compensation. One way to look at a wrongful death claim is if your loved one had survived the incident and been able to file a personal injury claim against the defendant, your family has grounds to hold the defendant responsible for wrongful death now.
What Is the Burden of Proof?
The burden of proof in civil law always rests with the plaintiff or injured party. It is the plaintiff’s responsibility to prove his or her case against the defendant. Proving a personal injury or wrongful death case requires a preponderance of the evidence. This is enough clear and convincing evidence to prove the defendant more likely than not caused the injury or harm in question. This is a lesser burden of proof than in a criminal case, which requires proof of a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Common Types of Evidence
To fulfill your burden of proof during a wrongful death claim in Missouri, you or your attorney must preserve, collect and present clear and convincing evidence of the defendant’s fault. Evidence is information, facts or items that indicate a proposition is true or valid. Evidence in a wrongful death lawsuit can take many forms:
Police or accident report
Photographs and video surveillance footage
Statements made by eyewitnesses
Depositions and interrogatories
Cell phone records
Coroner’s report or death certificate
Proof of losses
The quality and credibility of the evidence presented are critical to the success of a Kansas City wrongful death case. The jury must be convinced that the defendant is at least 51% responsible for causing your loved one’s fatal injury. Otherwise, your family may not receive any monetary recovery. A lawyer can help you fulfill your burden of proof.
Do You Need a Wrongful Death Attorney?
You have a lot on the line as the plaintiff in a wrongful death case. You and your family may find it difficult to pay the bills and move forward after the death of a loved one without a successful settlement or verdict. A positive case outcome can provide closure and peace of mind by holding a wrongdoer accountable.
Hiring a wrongful death attorney in Kansas City can make it easier to prove your case. Your lawyer can navigate Missouri’s laws and gather evidence of the defendant’s fault on your behalf. Your lawyer can go head-to-head with a defense lawyer during an insurance claim or wrongful death lawsuit while you focus on grieving.