As you grieve the sudden loss of a loved one after an accident, you have legal decisions that you need to make. Should you seek compensation in a wrongful death case? Is it worth your time and effort?
Our experienced Kansas City wrongful death lawyers are here to help you understand whether you have a wrongful death case worth pursuing and what you need to prove to get the compensation your family deserves.
Wrongful death cases are often legally complex and emotionally challenging. Our attorneys can take the burden off your shoulders and handle every aspect of your case while you concentrate on mourning and honoring your loved one's memory.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Case
Kansas and Missouri laws require you to prove the following elements of a wrongful death case to recover compensation:
Duty of Care: A Legal Obligation to Prevent Harm
The first step in proving a Missouri wrongful death case is establishing that the defendant owed your loved one a duty of care. In other words, you must prove that the defendant had a duty to act reasonably and responsibly with regard to your loved one. In most cases, the defendant owed your loved one a duty of care if a reasonable person would find that they are responsible for acting with reasonable care in a similar situation. For example, drivers owe a duty of care to those with whom they share the road.
Breach of Duty: Failing to Meet the Expected Standard
Once the duty of care is established, the next step is to prove that the defendant breached that duty. Breach of duty occurs when the responsible party fails to meet the expected standard of behavior that would have prevented harm to the deceased. This involves carefully examining the actions or decisions made by the defendant leading up to the fatal accident. By demonstrating that the defendant's conduct fell short of what was reasonably expected, you can show that their negligence directly contributed to your loved one's death. For example, speeding, texting while driving, and drunk driving are all cases where the duty of care was likely breached.
Causation: Linking Negligence to the Wrongful Death
After you prove that the defendant breached the duty of care, you must prove that the breach of the duty of care caused your loved one's death. Proving causation requires establishing a direct connection between the defendant's breach of duty and the death of your loved one. In other words, you need to demonstrate that the death would not have occurred if it had not been for the defendant's negligent actions. This often involves presenting evidence, expert testimony, and a comprehensive analysis of the events leading up to the fatal incident.
Damages: Quantifying the Impact of the Wrongful Death
The final element of a wrongful death case involves proving the damages resulting from the fatal accident. Damages include economic and non-economic losses the surviving family members suffered due to the wrongful death. Economic damages may include medical expenses, funeral costs, lost financial support, and other quantifiable financial losses. Non-economic damages include intangible losses such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and emotional distress. Establishing damages provides a comprehensive view of the true extent of the harm caused and serves as the basis for determining the compensation that should be awarded.
Types of Evidence That Help You Prove a Wrongful Death Occurred
To build a solid wrongful death case, you'll need various types of evidence to support each element described above. Useful evidence may include:
1. Documentation and Records
- Medical records. Gathering medical records is essential to establish the connection between the accident and your loved one's death.
- Police reports and accident reports. Official reports from law enforcement agencies and accident investigators provide an unbiased account of the incident. These reports often contain valuable details, observations, and expert opinions that contribute to the overall understanding of the circumstances surrounding the fatal accident.
- Other relevant documentation. Any other relevant documentation, such as communication records, correspondence, or written agreements, can provide additional context and contribute to the overall understanding of the case.
2. Eyewitness Testimonies
Eyewitnesses who were present during the incident or witnessed its aftermath can offer crucial firsthand accounts of what happened. Their testimonies can provide essential details, perspectives, and observations that shed light on the responsible party's actions and their consequences. Eyewitness testimonies often carry significant weight in court, as they offer a human perspective on the events and can help validate other forms of evidence.
3. Expert Testimonies
- Medical professionals. Medical experts can provide insights into the cause of death and whether the responsible party's actions directly contributed to the fatal outcome. Their professional opinions can help establish the link between negligence and the tragic event.
- Accident reconstruction specialists. These experts use their specialized knowledge to recreate the events leading to the wrongful death. Their analysis can provide a detailed understanding of how the incident unfolded and whether the responsible party's conduct played a role.
- Economic experts. Financial experts can assess the deceased person's income, expenses, and potential future earnings. This expertise is crucial in quantifying the financial impact of the loss on the surviving family members.
4. Photographs and Videos
- Scene documentation. Photographs and videos of the accident scene, the location, and the conditions at the time of the incident can help recreate the events visually. These visuals provide a tangible representation of the circumstances and can help establish critical details.
- Injury documentation. Visual evidence of injuries sustained by the deceased can help the court understand what happened and how your loved one may have suffered.
5. Financial Records
Providing financial records detailing the deceased person's income and expenses can help quantify the economic loss your family has suffered. These records demonstrate the financial contributions lost due to the wrongful death. Financial experts can also use these records to project potential future earnings. This projection helps assess the long-term financial impact on your family.
Incorporating these various types of evidence into your wrongful death case can significantly strengthen your claim and enhance your chances of obtaining the justice and compensation your family deserves.Our Kansas City wrongful death lawyers will strategically gather, analyze, and present evidence to build a strong case that tells the story of what happened to your loved one and explains why your family deserves compensation.
Why Your Wrongful Death Case is Important
Proving your wrongful death case is crucial for several reasons:
1. Seeking Justice
By proving your case, you're holding the responsible party accountable for their actions. It ensures they are legally recognized as having caused your loved one's death.
2. Preventing Future Harm
Establishing negligence or misconduct in a wrongful death case can encourage others to act more responsibly, potentially preventing similar accidents or incidents from occurring in the future.
3. Seeking Compensation
Proving your case enables you to seek compensation for damages from your family member's wrongful death. While no amount of money can replace a loved one, it can help cover medical bills, funeral expenses, and lost income and provide for your surviving family members' future needs.
4. Closure and Healing
Going through the process of proving your case can provide a sense of closure and allow you to begin the healing process. It offers a way to honor your loved one's memory by seeking accountability.
Proving your Kansas City wrongful death case is essential to secure justice and the compensation your family deserves. Gathering the proper evidence, working with an experienced wrongful death attorney, and understanding the elements you need to prove can make a significant difference in achieving a favorable outcome. While the legal process may be complex, seeking justice for your loved one's wrongful death is crucial for healing and finding closure.