In the West Palm Beach area, the state allows beneficiaries to file for a wrongful death claim if the person died as a result of another party’s negligence or harmful intent. However, the person filing the claim must be able to prove that the person who caused the death was indeed acting negligently. Here is how you–with the help of experienced wrongful death lawyers–would go about proving fault in a wrongful death case in West Palm Beach.

A wrongful death claim can provide the victim’s surviving family or heirs with financial compensation to lessen the burden of expenses resulting from the death. Beneficiaries may be awarded damage as compensation for lost income, future earnings, medical expenses, funeral costs, pain and suffering, and other costs that were incurred from the person’s death. In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded as well. Punitive, or exemplary, damages are intended to punish the defendant for their negligent actions and dissuade them from taking similar actions in the future.

Parties Involved in the Wrongful Death Case

Plaintiff: The plaintiff is the person that brings the lawsuit to court. Typically, the plaintiff will be the spouse, child, dependent, or other personal representative assigned by the will of the deceased. The plaintiff and their attorney must prove fault in a wrongful death case in order to be awarded damages.

Defendant: The defendant is the person or entity defending their case. In the event of a wrongful death case, the defendant is the one being accused of causing the wrongful death. If the plaintiff proves the death is the fault of the defendant, then the defendant will be responsible for paying damages to the plaintiff.

It is up to the plaintiff, and their attorney, to establish duty of care, breach of duty of care, and causation to prove the fault of the defendant.

Duty of Care

In order to be compensated, the beneficiary must prove that the other party is responsible for the death due to negligence. In order for them to be considered negligent, the other party must have owed a duty of care to the deceased person. Duty of care varies for each situation, but often refers to being safe or refraining from taking actions that directly harm the other person. For example, if someone was driving recklessly above the speed limit and hit a pedestrian then they could be considered negligent of their duty of care to drive safely.

Breach of Duty of Care

Once the duty of care is determined, then it must be proven that the other party breached their duty to the deceased. Evidence will be gathered to prove that the defendant was negligent.

Causation

When sufficient evidence is gathered that the person has acted negligently, then it must be proved that the death was a result of the negligence. This is referred to as proving cause. The breach of duty must have actually caused the death in order for damages to be awarded. In order to prove cause you must show that the death was a direct result of the breach of duty.