For anyone to bring a successful wrongful death case to court, they must prove the elements required by law. Elements are the factors that prove to the court that a case meets the criteria set by the law.
California Legislative Information explains that the legal definition of wrongful death in the state is the death of one person caused by another person’s negligence or illegal action. There are four elements a person must prove to win a wrongful death case.
FindLaw explains one element is the appointing of a personal representative for the estate of the person who died. There must be a death in the case as well.
The case must show that the surviving family of the deceased suffered a monetary loss due to the person’s death. Lastly, the case must prove that the death was a result of the actions of the other person and those actions were either intended to cause harm or due to negligence.
Burden of proof
While the person bringing a wrongful death case to court has the burden of proof and must show all elements are present, the burden of proof is not as difficult as in other types of cases. In criminal cases, for example, the prosecution usually has to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
In a wrongful death case, the standard is to show a preponderance of the evidence. A preponderance of evidence means simply showing that there is a very high likelihood that something happened.
The bottom line with wrongful death cases is that the court will want to see clear proof that the situation occurred the way claimed and that it led to a death causing financial hardship to the surviving family members.