4 elements must exist to prove a wrongful death claim

On Behalf of | Aug 15, 2023 | Personal Injury

When a Kansas family suffers the sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one, they often encounter high levels of stress when dealing with numerous issues associated with the incident in its aftermath. Such issues often extend beyond the typical grieving process. For example, if a family does not have sufficient funds on hand, then paying funeral expenses and other costs can cause severe financial crisis. For many, filing a wrongful death claim is a means of obtaining restitution, which can help alleviate financial strain.  

State law allows the filing of a wrongful death claim when a person’s negligence, recklessness or malice causes another person’s death. To obtain a victory in court, a plaintiff must prove the existence of four elements. Because this type of litigation is complex and highly stressful, most people ask experienced personal injury attorneys to represent them in court.  

Did death occur after a car accident, in a medical setting or because of a crime? 

To file a wrongful death claim, you must be the immediate family member of someone who has died. The death itself is the first of four elements you must prove in court to win the judge’s or jury’s favor. Proving this element usually includes the presentation of certain documents, such as a death certificate, autopsy report or medical records.  

Appointment as personal representative of decedent’s estate 

The legitimacy of filing a wrongful death claim stems from the fact that the decedent would have been eligible to file a personal injury claim in civil court had he or she survived. If you are an immediate family member of a decedent who wishes to seek restitution, you must prove to the court that someone has officially appointed you as the decedent’s representative.  

Evidence demonstrating cause of death 

Showing a death certificate to a judge or jury is not enough to convince them that a wrongful death has occurred. Therefore, another element you must prove as a plaintiff in such a case is to demonstrate that your loved one’s death was the direct effect of another person’s negligence, recklessness or malicious intent. For example, if a drunk driver hit your loved one, evidence of intoxication behind the wheel would constitute negligence under Kansas law.  

You have suffered damages because of your family member’s death 

As part of a wrongful death claim, you must list the damages that have occurred as a direct result of your loved one’s passing. This might include things like financial distress due to being unable to meet expenses associated with the death, such as medical care provided to your loved one before he or she passed, funeral expenses and more. You can also list loss of consortium, which means that the death has deprived you of a relationship and companionship with your loved one. 

You must file a wrongful death claim in Kansas within two years of your loved one’s passing. If you are unsure whether you have enough evidence to prove the four elements necessary or have questions about state laws regarding such cases, you can reach out for experienced guidance and support before heading to court.