Proving Fault in Wrongful Death

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Proving Fault in Wrongful Death

Wrongful death cases require more than a lawsuit and an attorney. The plaintiff must also prove that the defendant (the person who may have caused the death) actually did so. Since a wrongful death case is unlike a murder trial, the plaintiff will be awarded monetary damages if the defendant is found to have caused the death.

Wrongful Death Damages

No matter the type of wrongful death case, damages may be awarded. Damages can cover everything from general funeral expenses  for the deceased, to compensation equal to or even greater than earnings the person may have made in the lifetime. While it’s up to the court to determine what the damages will be, there are some factors they examine, including everything the deceased did for the loved one(s) filing suit. Of course, before an award is determined, it’s necessary to prove that the defendant is at fault.

Proving Fault

Four steps are required when proving fault in a wrongful death case. It starts with proving duty, which is whether or not the defendant did something wrong that caused the death. The next step is a breach of duty, and that is followed by proving that the defendant is the person who is fully responsible for what happened to the deceased. Finally, the last step involves proving damages, which is the monetary segment of the trial.

Duty

Let’s start with duty. While you may be familiar with the concept of duty in general, it’s a little different in a court of law. For example, if you are behind the wheel of a car, it’s your duty to obey the laws of the road and drive in a safe manner. If you’re a doctor, it’s your duty to do your job as thoroughly as possible in order to avoid making a catastrophic mistake. Proving that you have duty seems common sense, but it’s actually more complicated than that. Since wrongful death cases are conducted in front of a judge, not a jury, the attorneys representing the plaintiff need to prove that the defendant’s actions led to harm.

Breach of Duty

Next is a breach of duty. Once it has been established that the defendant had a duty, the attorneys need to prove the defendant didn’t follow through properly. For example, in the case of a negligent driver, they must show that the driver didn’t follow the traffic laws or drove in a reckless manner. In the example of a doctor, it’s necessary to prove they didn’t follow up with the patient, failed to conduct a certain test, failed to diagnose an illness, prescribed the wrong medication or dose of medication. They didn’t do what they were supposed to (their duty), so they knowingly breached that duty. The word “knowingly” is important here, as the defendant had to know that their actions were wrong.

Causation

After the breach of duty comes causation. The attorney needs to prove that the defendant’s wrongful actions were indeed the cause of death. If the deceased perished due to injuries received in a car accident caused by the defendant, then that is causation. However, if the deceased had a medical condition that led to their death, and it wasn’t caused by the accident, then the defendant isn’t the cause. It does get a bit complicated here, as certain medical conditions can be exacerbated by the accident, leaving the defendant still at fault. In another example, if the doctor’s failure to diagnose a condition led to the patient’s death, then the doctor may be at fault. It all depends on how well causation can be proven.

Damages

After additional steps have been completed and it’s been proven that the defendant had a specific duty, breached that duty, and caused a person’s death, then the plaintiff’s attorney must prove that they owe damages to the plaintiff. For example, if the deceased paid all of the plaintiff’s bills and provided transportation, then that must be proven. Of course, there are additional examples of why damages should be awarded, and the attorney must provide evidence of them as well. If not, the case will be lost, even if the other three  (duty, breach of duty, and causation) are proven.

If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, contact me, today and. I’ll Make Them Pay!®

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PJ Camargo/Authentik Movement Training
01:51 22 Oct 20
I've had the pleasure of getting to know Tim personally over the past 2 years. Beyond him being an incredible lawyer &... 'Jack of all trades ' he is an amazing friend. One thing I love most is that he is family oriented & always making quality time for his loved ones. He inspires me to be a great role model &father figure one day. Tim loves nature & shares the true beauty of nature with how he raises his kids. From biking through trails & having his kids learn how to nurture the family garden - he teaches valuable lessons on how to appreciate the world we live in. I know that Tim is just a phone call away & always urgent to responding no matter the situation. He has given me some of the greatest advice & continously throwing positive energy my way! I'm honored to know him & be a friend of his. He is the true practioneer of changing lives & paying it forward. He has taught me so much in just a short amount of time. Tim Misny, a man that wakes up every single day to make a difference!read more
Scott Plate
Scott Plate
16:49 10 Oct 20
Tim has created a highly visible and effective law practice, and despite his decades of experience, he has never once... forgotten why he got into this business in the first place: to help people. He puts his whole heart into his work, and he works hard for everyone he represents. He has a gift for tuning out the noise and tuning into the core of what his clients need, and making it clear he has heard them. As a result, we feel empowered. He is smart, resourceful, creative, positive, and solution-oriented. His abundant energy makes people feel better, stronger, and valued. He loves and promotes his community; he gives back generously, and he always leaves everything better than he found it. Tim is a true man of action, and a man of his word. Could not recommend him more highly.read more
Mike M
Mike M
04:44 09 Oct 20
As a young man, I worked at a local garden center. I came from a family that had too many problems to list. I felt I... was never destined to be anything good. I had always wanted to be a police officer since I was a little boy. But, one side of my family told me that I would never be good enough to do it. Anytime I brought it up, they knocked me down until I started to believe that I could never accomplish my dream. One day, about 20 years ago, while working at that garden center, a very tall man came in and asked me to help him select plants. As we walked around the garden center, he struck up a conversation with me. He was very friendly and kind. I was a skinny teenager in dirty blue jeans and a t shirt. This man was dressed very nicely and I was surprised at how nice he was to me. During our conversation, he asked me what I wanted to do with my life after school. I told him that I wanted to be a police officer but many people told me that I’d never make it. I told him how my very own father said I wasn’t smart enough, brave enough, and I was wasting my time. I remember looking at the ground while I explained this to him. The man stopped and got serious. His voice dropped an octave and he looked me dead in the eyes. He pointed his finger at me and told me that I could make anything of my life that I wanted. He told me that it was up to ME to make my life goals come true. He told me to ignore anybody who tells me otherwise. He assured me that if I studied hard in school and never gave up on my dreams that they would become a reality. He told me to say it. I said “I can do it”. In that moment, I thought that if a complete stranger saw something in me, than maybe it could be true.After I helped him through the checkout and he left, many different employees at the garden center asked me if I knew who that man was. I did not. They told me, “That’s Tim Misny!” Once I figured out “who” Tim Misny was, my confidence grew. It was a pivotal moment. One in which steered the rest of my life. His words stuck with me. I worked hard and obtained my Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice. I was hired by a local Law Enforcement Agency at the age of 21. I was sent to the Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy, which was an extremely tough place to be, to say the least. At the Academy, they try to break those who don’t have a determined spirit. On days I wanted to quit, I remembered Tim’s words. Maybe it was fate, maybe it was random chance.... I’ll never know But, Tim Misny helped me have the confidence and determination that was necessary to be where I’m at today. I’ve been a law enforcement officer for over 16 years. I’ve told this story to many of my coworkers.Tim, you’ll never understand how your words that spring day helped shape my future. Your words enabled me to provide a great life for myself and my family. I’m forever grateful.Mikeread more
Eric Evans
Eric Evans
21:02 04 Oct 20
Tim has represented me twice, once 30 years ago and again just recently. I was too young to fully appreciate his... expertise when he represented me the first time (as i was a minor who was the victim of an accident - he won for us, incidentally), but I'm old enough and wise enough now to really appreciate how truly great he is. First off, how many attorney's actually give you their cell phone number and actually answer? I would contend very, very few. Secondly, he has a street fighter mentality combined with a sharp legal intellect which makes you immediately think "I'm so glad this guy is on my side." I was really in a bind recently and Tim came through in spades - he is THE person I would call if I were in trouble or needed help - at a minimum he would know who I should talk to and direct me there (he knows his own limits, which is the key to a wise person) - at a maximum he would take on my fight himself and I'd have full confidence in his ability to deliver the best possible outcome for me - he fights for you like you're family - can't say it better than that.read more
Benjamin Firstenberg
Benjamin Firstenberg
19:32 28 Sep 20
I worked as an intern for Tim the summer of 2017 and it was an unbelievable experience both for my career and personal... development. He treats his employees with a level of respect, appreciation and honesty that I've truly not seen anywhere else that I've worked. We've stayed in touch these past few years and I'm still learning from Tim, whether it be the way he sees the world, his career advice or his commitment to his family. He's an honest man who treats people honorably.read more
David Shelton
David Shelton
01:13 30 Jun 20
I don't know much about Tim the lawyer, but I do know about Tim the man. Tim the man befriended me as a youth and gave... me the motivation to excel in school. Tim the man wrote the letter that got me into college and got me a helpful scholarship. Tim the man gave me an internship while in college. Tim the man has been a friend to me for over ten years. He makes himself available day or night whether I need advice or just want to talk about the day. There a lot of stigmas about attorneys (and they are earned) but Tim Misny bucks the stereotype. And if Tim the lawyer is half a good as Tim the man, he will live up to his word, and make them pay.read more
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