How to Prove Liability After a Wrongful Death
The evidence your wrongful death attorney might use to prove liability will depend on the cause of the death, where the accident occurred, who was responsible, and many other factors. Most of these cases are filed on the basis of negligence, meaning that the death occurred because the defendant breached a duty of care owed to the victim. However, it’s also possible to file a wrongful death claim on the basis of intentional wrongdoing—i.e. the defendant intentionally killed the victim—or strict liability, in which case a finding of fault is not necessary to impose liability.
Below are a few kinds of evidence your lawyer might use to prove fault:
- The Police or Incident Report: Both your attorney and the insurance company will want to see official documentation of the accident that caused the death. If law enforcement attended the scene, the police report will likely play an important role in your case. An incident report might also be valuable evidence if one was drafted at the scene of the accident—for example, if the death occurred due to a slip and fall on a commercial property.
- Photos and Video Footage: These days, it’s not uncommon for serious accidents to be captured on surveillance systems or dash cams. That footage might help your attorney prove liability. If there’s a dispute regarding fault, your attorney and perhaps an accident reconstruction expert might also use photos taken at the scene to piece together what happened in the moments leading up to the incident.
- Medical Records: If there’s a dispute regarding the specific cause of death, your Port Salerno wrongful death lawyer might use the deceased’s medical records to support your claim. Depending on the circumstances, accessing these records may be challenging, but one of our attorneys can help you take the necessary steps to obtain them.
- Eyewitness Testimony: The testimony of people who witnessed the fatal accident might be useful for corroborating other evidence like the police report.
Proving damages is one of the most complicated aspects of recovering a fair settlement after a wrongful death. Calculating a lifetime of lost income poses certain challenges since there are all sorts of factors to consider, including how the deceased’s income would likely have changed over time. Often, it’s necessary to bring in economic and vocational experts to assist with these calculations and to provide testimony.
Our Port Salerno wrongful death lawyers work closely with a wide array of experts in various disciplines who can assist with the investigation, settlement negotiations, and potential litigation. We also have an in-depth knowledge of the most widely accepted formulas for calculating settlements in wrongful death cases, which means we can account for all potentially recoverable losses while minimizing the risk of a dispute that could draw out the proceedings unnecessarily. Besides expert witness testimony, your attorney might use other evidence to prove damages such as medical records, income tax returns, 1099s, work contracts, receipts and invoices for funeral costs and other expenses related to the death, and your personal journal about how the death has affected your general wellbeing.