The loss of a loved one can be devastating, especially if it is unexpected. If you believe that the death of your loved one was not accidental, that the action or inaction of another person contributed to it, then you may have the grounds for a wrongful death suit. Tort law gives you this remedy. However, you must build a case against the person or institution you suspect of causing the death. An attorney in Covington Kentucky can give you the advice and support you need during this difficult time. They also have the experience and expertise to develop a case and represent you in a lawsuit.
Types of Wrongful Death Cases
Nearly any action or series of events that leads to the death of someone else and that can be attributed to a person or group of persons can be used as the basis for a wrongful death suit. The most common types of wrongful death cases are as follows:
- Medical Malpractice
When your loved one put themselves under the treatment of a physician, they put their life in the doctor’s hands. Doctors and other medical professionals are obligated to give the best care possible under the circumstances. Surgical error, diagnostic error, prescription error—these are all forms of medical malpractice. If the medical team that handled your loved one’s case made a series of blunders that led to their death, then you can build a case against them.
- Vehicle, Workplace, or Premises Accident
If your loved one was badly hurt in a car crash caused by the recklessness or negligence of another driver and they died from their injuries, then you can sue the other driver for wrongful death. You can also make a case against an employer who ran an unsafe work environment in which your loved one was killed. A bad slip-and-fall accident, the collapse of a structure, or a falling object on the premises can lead to death. If this happened to your loved one, then you can hold the owner accountable.
- Product Defect
Consumer products should be safe to operate. Instructions for how to use them should be placed prominently on the package, as should warning labels. If your loved one was killed because a product did not work the way it should have, then you can sue the manufacturer, the retailer, and anyone else in the supply chain that may have had knowledge of the hazard presented by the item.
If you suspect your loved one was murdered, then you can bring a civil action against the perpetrator. Murder cases are handled by the state. The police track down the person who allegedly killed the person and prosecutors build a case against them. In a criminal court, the standard of guilt is beyond reasonable doubt. It can be difficult for even the most seasoned and competent prosecutor to reach that bar.
But even if the person who is arrested for killing your loved one is acquitted in the criminal court it is possible for you to file a wrongful death suit against them. Prosecutors can turn over the evidence they gathered in a criminal case to the family of a murder victim. This can then be used in a civil case in which the standard is preponderance of the evidence.
Standing in Wrongful Death Cases
One of the first things you will need to work out with your attorney in Covington Kentucky is whether you have standing to file a wrongful death case. In all states, the surviving spouse, parents, and children of the victim have the right to sue for wrongful death. The more distant one gets from a direct relation to the deceased the harder it is to gain standing. If, for example, you are the long-term unmarried partner of the deceased, you will find it difficult to establish standing to file a wrongful death suit. The suit must be filed by the deceased’s children or surviving parents.
Proving the Case
To prove wrongful death in Kentucky, you must demonstrate that the action or inaction of another led directly to the death of the deceased. To build the best case possible, your attorney will bring in a professional investigations team.
These private investigators will go to the scene of where the death took place. They will gather any video footage available and track down everyone who was associated with the events that led to the death. If your loved one died under the care of a medical team, the investigator will interview everyone on that team and look into their backgrounds and qualifications. If your loved one died as the result of a slip-and-fall in a restaurant, the investigator will speak to the staff on duty at the time. They will also track down other customers who may have witnessed the fall or can to speak to the unsafe conditions that led to it.
Your lawyer will also bring in forensic experts. You cannot base your wrongful death case on a post hoc ergo propter hoc argument. The fact that one event happened after another event does not mean that the one caused the other. You must work out the specific series of decisions, actions, and consequences that resulted in the death of your loved one. In other words, you must link together the sequence of events that led to their death, and you must prove that the person you are suing was responsible for them. Forensic experts will help your lawyer put such a case together. They will analyze all the evidence at the scene of your loved one’s death in order to determine how they died.
Your case need not go to court. If your attorney has gathered enough evidence to prove that your loved one was the victim of a wrongful death, the respondent may decide to settle. This is often preferable to going through a lengthy jury trial which they may lose and be forced to pay even more money than what you are willing to settle for.