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Proving Negligence in a Wrongful Death Claim

Posted on October 5, 2022

After losing a loved one due to the negligent actions of someone else, family members and personal representatives of the deceased often wonder whether or not they will be able to recover compensation. Proving wrongful death can be challenging, particularly when it comes to going up against insurance carriers and legal teams. Here, we want to examine the types of evidence that need to be gathered in order to prove liability for a wrongful death claim in Illinois.

Evidence That Needs to be Gathered to Prove Negligence

Proving any type of personal injury or wrongful death claim typically revolves around evidence. The types of evidence needed to prove negligence in these situations will vary depending on the type of claim at hand. For example, if a wrongful death is caused by a vehicle accident, then the evidence needed to prove liability will look different than a wrongful death claim caused by a defective product.

When an attorney gets involved in these cases, they will use their resources to gather as much evidence as possible. Some of the main types of evidence used to prove a wrongful death claim can include the following:

  • Photographs or video footage taken at the scene of the incident
  • Statements from any eyewitnesses who saw what happened
  • Video surveillance footage from nearby cameras
  • Property owner or business inspection and maintenance records
  • Mobile device records
  • Vehicle black box data
  • Safety history of a company or product

This is certainly not a complete list of the types of evidence that may be needed to prove liability for a wrongful death claim in Illinois. In some cases, an attorney may need to work with an accident reconstruction expert to dig deeper into exactly what happened and to produce 3D computer models to show an insurance carrier or jury.

Working to Prove the Four Elements of Negligence

Every successful wrongful death claim must be built around proving the four elements of negligence. Briefly, these include the following:

  1. Duty. It must be shown that the at-fault party (the defendant) owed some duty of care to the injury victim (deceased). The duty of care will vary depending on the situation. For example, every driver on the roadway owes a duty of care to those around them, which means they must operate their vehicle safely.
  2. Breach. After establishing that there was a duty of care present, it must be shown that the defendant breached the duty of care that they owed the deceased. Following the vehicle example, a violation of traffic laws could constitute a breach of duty of care.
  3. Causation. After establishing that there was indeed a breach of duty by the defendant, it must be shown that this breach is what led to the deceased’s injuries or death.
  4. Damages. Finally, it has to be shown that the plaintiff sustained some sort of monetary loss as a result of their injuries.

Why an Attorney is so Important

A skilled wrongful death lawyer in Illinois is crucial because they can handle every aspect of the claim on behalf of family members and estates. This includes investigations, negotiations, and the wrongful death jury trial.