If your loved one recently passed away because of another person’s negligence, money may be the furthest thought from your mind. While a wrongful death claim won’t bring your loved one back, it can help you and your family move forward from this tragic incident.
Successful wrongful death claims hinge on proving damages. You won’t have a case if you can’t prove the at-fault party caused your economic and/or non-economic damages.
Here’s what you need to know about proving damages in a wrongful death claim. To improve your case outcomes, consult a Connecticut wrongful death attorney for assistance.
Burden of Proof in Wrongful Death Claims
You can bring a wrongful death claim against someone who caused your loved one’s death, whether they did so intentionally or unintentionally. As the plaintiff, you have the burden of proof, which means you (and your attorney) must come up with evidence to prove the defendant was negligent in your loved one’s death.
However, this burden of proof is much lower than it would be in a criminal case. In criminal cases, the prosecutor must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant is guilty. But in a civil wrongful death case, you only need to prove a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning it is more likely true than not true that the defendant is responsible for the death in question.
Because of this distinction, you may have enough evidence for a civil wrongful death case, even if there isn’t enough evidence to charge the defendant with homicide, manslaughter, or another criminal charge.
Proving Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
Unlike in a criminal case, it’s not enough to show the defendant was responsible for your loved one’s death. You also need to show the defendant owes you damages, which are a monetary sum to compensate you for your loss. Review these methods for proving damages in your case:
Gather Receipts for Economic Damages
First, collect receipts and documentation of economic damages. These include the direct monetary expenses your family incurred because of the defendant’s actions, such as:
- Funeral costs
- Medical bills
- Loss of income
- Physical damage, as in a car accident
You must show solid evidence of these expenses as part of your claim.
Calculate Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages account for the emotional and physical pain your loved one and your family experienced as a result of the defendant’s wrongdoing. Your Connecticut wrongful death attorney can help you calculate the value of the following non-economic expenses to seek in your claim:
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Mental anguish
- Loss of guidance and instruction for surviving children
These damages are subjective, and you probably won’t need to prove your family is grieving or experiencing emotional distress. The more challenging part is coming up with a fair value for non-economic expenses that the judge or jury agrees on. Your attorney can provide knowledgeable guidance during this step.
Show Evidence of the Defendant’s Wrongdoing
If the defendant behaved recklessly when they caused your loved one’s death, or they intended to harm your loved one, you can seek punitive damages to punish them for their wrongdoing. Proving intent or recklessness may involve seeking witness testimonies, reviewing video footage, or reconstructing the accident.
Seek Guidance From an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney
The attorneys at the Law Offices of James A. Welcome can take the stress of proving damages off your shoulders while you take time to grieve on your terms. Don’t risk exceeding Connecticut’s statute of limitations; call 475-241-0824 today for a free consultation with a Connecticut wrongful death attorney.