Understanding Wrongful Death Claims: Proving Liability and Seeking Compensation

September 25, 2023 by in Uncategorized

Proving wrongful death can be a challenging task, requiring you to demonstrate that the defendant’s actions either led to the death through negligence or were intentionally harmful. In cases where a defective product caused the tragedy, California’s products liability law allows you to hold the defendant strictly liable for your damages.

Proving Negligence in a Wrongful Death Claim

Negligence is legally defined as the failure to exercise reasonable care to prevent harm to oneself or others. Negligence can contribute to wrongful death in various ways, such as drunk driving, prescription medication errors, or unsafe property conditions.

To establish negligence in a wrongful death claim, you must show that:

  1. A person died.
  2. The defendant acted negligently or recklessly.
  3. The defendant’s actions caused the person’s death.
  4. The surviving family members have suffered provable damages.

Proving Intentional Harm in a Wrongful Death Claim

Cases involving violence often require demonstrating intentional harm. Acts like shooting, strangling, or deliberately causing harm with a vehicle fall under this category.

To prove intentional harm in a wrongful death claim, you must establish that:

  1. The defendant intended to commit the harmful act.
  2. The defendant made non-consensual contact with the victim.
  3. The victim’s death resulted from the defendant’s non-consensual contact.

Product Liability and Wrongful Death

If a defective product causes injury or death in California, the state’s product liability laws generally hold the designer, manufacturer, distributor, or seller responsible for the losses. Negligence does not need to be proven in a product liability case. The mere fact that a defective product caused harm is sufficient under California law. However, to succeed in a personal injury or wrongful death case, you still need to demonstrate the following:

  1. The product was defective.
  2. The defect caused the injury or death.
  3. The injured or deceased party used the product reasonably.
  4. The plaintiff incurred damages due to the defect.

Examples of defective products that could lead to wrongful death include automobiles, farm equipment, household products, medical devices, and pharmaceutical drugs.

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