When a family member dies it is a heart-wrenching experience. It can be made even more painful when surviving family members know that their loved one's death could have been avoided.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the deceased's family may file the suit on their own behalf as well as on behalf of the estate.
There are essentially two components to a successful wrongful death lawsuit. First, the plaintiffs work to establish that another party was responsible for the death and that the party was negligent in preventing it.
In the second part, plaintiffs present evidence to help establish damages in the claim. Often, these two components intertwine, but for the purposes of gathering evidence it helps to understand those two components.
Families can often feel a sense of empowerment throughout case preparation by helping to gather the important pieces of evidence that can make the case. With the help of an attorney, families will be asked to collect many of these wrongful death evidence materials to help win the case:
- Autopsy reports, death certificate and other medical records
- Police reports
- Eyewitness testimony
- Visual evidence like photos and video
- Case specific documents and testimony
To calculate damages, there are several other documents and material that can have an impact on any award that might come as the result of a judgment. Old tax returns can help illustrate the wages that have been lost due to the loss of the family member, funeral and medical bills are also considered as families can be compensated for these expenses, and even mementos like letters and photos can be used to illustrate the loss of the relationship that has come with the death of a loved one.
For families who are seeking justice, active participation by helping to gather these materials can sometimes be a step in the healing process. Working with an attorney, these survivors can play an important role in winning some sense of peace after a senseless loss.