Noblesville Wrongful Death Lawyer
A wrongful death lawsuit works almost exactly like a standard personal injury claim. Almost, but not exactly. The key difference is who brings the lawsuit. Since the victim has died, it is their family or estate that must bring forth the suit and receive the damages. The fundamentals of the lawsuit itself though–the need for a Noblesville wrongful death lawyer to prove negligence on the part of the defendant, operate the same way as they would in a standard case involving accidents with a car, motorcycle, bike, truck, or any other circumstance that led to an accident.
Dollard Evans Whalin serves clients throughout the state of Indiana from our Noblesville office. We aim to combine sharp legal counsel with soft personal compassion for all of our clients. Call today at (317) 854-5877 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Negligence involves proving the following four things. All four must be established or there is no case.
Duty of Care
If the defendant is going to be held liable for the death of another, then the defendant must have owed a duty of care to the deceased. In some cases, this is easy to establish. Doctors owe a duty to their patients. Anyone that takes a vehicle or bike on the road owes a duty to everyone around them.
Other cases though, might have some gray areas. Does a homeowner owe a duty of care to everyone who comes into their property? In some cases, yes, in others no. Duty of care is always a prerequisite for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Breach of Duty
Once the defendant is shown to have owed a duty of care, the Noblesville wrongful death lawyer must show that the duty was breached. This part of the process is often where the most intense legal disputes begin.
The reason is that the occurrence of a tragedy does not necessarily mean the defendant was at fault. Some circumstances are awful misfortunes for which neither party can be reasonably blamed.
This question is resolved by asking whether the defendant acted as a reasonable person would have in tending to their duty of care. Courts don’t expect people to be perfect. They don’t expect defendants to have a crystal ball and anticipate every possible negative outcome.
What courts do expect is that in whatever circumstance applies, the defendant will have acted reasonably. Settling this may require bringing in expert witness testimony if the case involves understanding the expectations required in particular professions.
Not every breach of duty is necessarily the cause of an accident. A defendant (or their insurance company) may argue that the tragic event would have occurred even if the defendant had acted appropriately. If a wrongful death case is to move forward, then the attorney for the victim’s family must demonstrate a clear link that connects the defendant’s breach of duty to the fatal event.
The final step of all personal injury cases is to show that the victim was materially damaged by the events established in the first three steps. This might seem obvious in a wrongful death case and to some extent it is. What is not obvious–and what a Noblesville wrongful death lawyer must demonstrate–is the scope of the damage and to help the court put a dollar number on something that’s personally painful for the family.
One part of this will be straight financial damages. Were there medical costs incurred trying to keep the deceased alive? Were there any rehabilitation attempts made prior to the death? Funeral costs can certainly be factored in here, along with the legal fees the family has taken on in the lawsuit itself.
Then there are the non-economic damages. These are the damages that no one can truly put a number on. How do you measure the value of a life? The answer is that in the big picture of life you cannot, but courts do have to make an effort to offer some level of compensation.
Non-economic damages are often referred to as pain and suffering. Testimony from family and friends about what the deceased meant in their lives is intended to show the court just how much this person will be missed and how far the impact of their death will reach.
Dollard Evans Whalin knows that people who need to file a wrongful death lawsuit are going through real personal pain. We know that our attorneys can’t heal that pain. What our lawyers can do is take on the burden of getting some level of justice for the life that was lost.
From our Noblesville office we serve clients throughout the state of Indiana. Call today at (317) 854-5877 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.
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