If one dies due to the negligence of another, the survivors can usually bring a civil suit seeking compensation from the at-fault party. Referred to as a wrongful death action, every jurisdiction has specific rules on these claims. However, general principles apply to the nature of these claims and the way Wrongful Death Lawyers in Vermont handle these cases. Here, readers can learn what it takes to prove a wrongful death case.
Civil Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death claims are civil suits that seek monetary damages. Civil suits are different from criminal cases in that a DA or prosecutor can file against the same person. Criminal cases typically carry punishments such as incarceration or fines, but survivors cannot receive monetary damages.
Parties to Wrongful Death Actions
The party bringing a civil suit with the help of McVeigh Skiff LLP is the plaintiff. In wrongful death actions, the plaintiff is usually a relative of the deceased. If one dies with the last will, courts appoint an estate executor to bring the suit on behalf of the heirs. The person being sued is referred to as a defendant, and the lawsuit alleges that the party’s negligent or intentional acts caused the decedent’s sudden death.
What Must Be Proven
When Wrongful Death Lawyers in Vermont help clients file claims, plaintiffs must prove certain elements before receiving damages. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions were negligent and that the negligence caused the person’s death before damages are awarded. The following elements must be proven:
* The defendant owed a duty of care
* The duty was breached
* The breach caused the death
Meeting the Standards of Proof
In proving the above elements, certain standards must be met. While jurisdictions may describe the standards differently, most require the above elements to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. The standard is lower than in a criminal action, where guilt must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
While most wrongful death suits are resolved out of court, some can only be resolved in a civil trial. Depending on the rules, a jury or a judge may decide whether the standard of proof has been met. Most jurisdictions do not require jurors to vote unanimously, but rules vary. Visit the website for more information.