What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

How To Respond To A Low Settlement Offer In A Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
How To Respond To A Low Settlement Offer In A Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
December 9, 2021
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Car Accident Claim?
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Car Accident Claim?
January 21, 2022
Show all
What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When a loved one dies due to a personal injury, the personal representative of the estate has the legal right to file the lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit is not that different from a normal personal injury lawsuit, albeit with different damages. Here is how a wrongful death lawsuit works.

There are two things that you need to prove in a wrongful death case:

  • Someone else should be held legally responsible for the death.
  • There are damages that the dependents of the deceased have suffered from losing their loved one.

Proving someone responsible requires that you show negligence. This test is the same one that is used in any personal injury lawsuit. There are four elements to proving negligence:

  • Duty of care – The defendant owed your loved one a duty to act reasonably.
  • Breach – They failed to uphold the duty of care by acting unreasonably under the circumstances. For example, a reasonable driver does not speed, nor do they get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.
  • Injury – Your dependent suffered an injury.
  • Causation – Your family member would not have died had it not been for what the defendant did or did not do.

The burden of proof is on the family to prove each of these elements. They need evidence of what happened to cause the death in order to be eligible for financial compensation. A wrongful death attorney would investigate the incident or accident that caused the death to gather the evidence necessary to prove the case.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim

Next, the dependents of the deceased must prove their damages. They are entitled to receive payment for what they lost when their loved one passed away. Compensation for what their family member went through before they died comes from a second type of lawsuit called a survival claim. The dependants of the deceased are entitled to be paid for:

  • The lost wages and other economic benefits that their family member would have earned had they lived
  • The loss of their family member’s support and presence in the family
  • Emotional distress and trauma that comes from losing a family member
  • Other damages: grief, sorrow, loss of companionship, loss of society

There is a lot involved in proving wrongful death and survival cases. The dependents must prove economic and emotional losses as well as fault or liability issues.These cases tend to have higher dollar values because of the nature of the harm. It is important that a family not go through this process alone.

Anderson Wrongful Death Law Firm

Families need an experienced attorney to help prove their case and secure the greatest compensation. The Law Office of Steven M Krause PA helps South Carolina families when a loved one has been injured. Call us today at (864) 225-4000 or contact us online to set up a time for a free consultation.


What is negligence in a wrongful death case?

It means that someone caused a death by acting unreasonably under the circumstances.

Will my wrongful death case go to trial?

Most cases will settle without a hearing.

Can I afford a wrongful death attorney?

Yes. You do not need to pay anything out of pocket up front for a lawyer.


We help people like you every day.