The Three Most Important Pieces of Evidence in a Texas Wrongful Death Case
West Texas has the dubious honor of accounting for many of the state’s fatalities. As such, many wrongful death cases come out of West Texas. Though most Texans have heard of wrongful death cases in the media, very few of them understand what it takes to win a wrongful death case. In this article we will talk about three types of evidence necessary for a wrongful death to be successful.
What Does the Evidence in a Wrongful Death Need to Prove?
Evidence will be needed in order prove your theory of liability so that the defendant may be held responsible for the losses that you have incurred. Moreover, evidence will have to prove your damages so that you may receive the maximum amount of compensation available. All wrongful death causes of action basically piggy-back off of another cause of action. For instance, if a loved one dies in a work-related accident, the family may bring a wrongful death claim in conjunction with a claim against the employer that will be seeking recovery under the employer’s insurance policy. Another example is when the deceased has passed away due to some accident caused by a defective product. In that scenario the wrongful death cause of action will be in addition to a product liability lawsuit.
Elements of Your Cause of Action
With regard to liability, the evidence that you are going to need will have to prove the elements specific to that particular cause of action. There are different elements that must be established depending on the claim you are making that the wrongful death cause of action is attached to. For example, if you claiming negligence in a car accident lawsuit you will have to show certain elements to hold the parties responsible for the accident liable in addition to the proof required in your wrongful death theory of recovery.
Proving Your Damages
The other major component in any wrongful death case is the damages or the losses sustained by the surviving family members. You will need to have evidence that will be capable of convincing the jury that your damages were caused by the wrongdoing of the defendant and thus they should held accountable for these losses. This can be shown through the wages you and your family members have lost because your loved one is no longer capable of contributing financially to your household income. In addition, evidence must establish the intangible emotional damages your have suffered such as your loss of companionship with the deceased.
Three Types of Evidence
Liability – In order to prove liability in a wrongful death case, your physical evidence will provide the foundation that will establish your case. For example, if the wrongful death cause of action is brought due to a car accident, then your must ensure that the vehicle your loved one was in remains in the same state that it was immediately following the accident. This is the physical evidence that will show that the defendant is liable. If the accident was because a tire blew out on the vehicle, then you will need that tire as physical evidence in order to show that it was the cause of the accident.
Damages – With respect to damages, in a wrongful death case you will need physical evidence to show that you have suffered damages because of your loved one’s death. An example would be letters or memorabilia that will serve as physical evidence that is indicative of the close bond you had with the deceased. This will establish that you have suffered damages in the wake of this tragedy and deserve to recover for your losses against the defendant.
Liability – Eyewitness testimony from a lay witness is crucial to a successful wrongful death case for the purposes of establishing liability because their account of the event that occurred may show that the defendant was responsible. For example, in a car accident case a witness to the accident can recount the series of events so that the jury will be able to visualize the scene and literally ‘see’ the defendant’s fault and wrongful conduct. An experienced trial attorney can adapt the witness’s testimony in such a way that the jury can easily understand exactly what occurred to ensure that they hold the defendant liable.
Damages – With regard to damages, witness testimony can illustrate the gravity of the impact that the death of this family member or loved one has had on you as the plaintiff. They can describe the emotional devastation that you have experience and the heartache you have gone through. When the jury is able to place themselves in your shoes and feel the pain you have gone through in the aftermath of this tragedy they will be much more likely to render a high damages verdict in your favor.
Expert Witness Testimony
Liability – Expert witness testimony is usually necessary in a wrongful death cause of action to show that the defendant was the party responsible for the decedent’s death. There are a wide variety of experts that may be used depending on the type of case that you are filing. To use the car accident example, an accident reconstruction expert would likely have to be used to show how the collision happened and explain why the defendant should be responsible for any ensuing damages. To provide the most accurate testimony possible the expert will typically visit the accident site to make sure that they are completely familiar with the accident to formulate an expert opinion on how it occurred.
Damages – Experts are frequently used in wrongful death causes of action on the issue of damages. There are different categories of damages in wrongful death cases so you may need an economic damages expert and a non-economic damages expert.
Economic damages are the tangible kinds of damages that are easier to quantify like income loss or medical expenses. Therefore, a medical expert or a life care planner might be necessary in your lawsuit to prove that you should be rewarded those types of economic damages.
Comparatively, non-economic damages are damages that cannot be easily quantified. That will include your emotional trauma and the loss of companionship of your loved one. In order to prove your non-economic damages a psychologist or mental health specialist may need to provide testimony to illustrate the effect the death of your loved one has had on you emotionally.
While these are not the only pieces of evidence that are imperative to a wrongful death lawsuit, they are some of the most important. They are to making sure that you have a strong theory of recovery so that the jury is inclined to render a verdict in your favor. Only an experienced attorney can make sure that you have enough evidence in support of your case to guard your ability to receive the maximum compensation you deserve. Losing a loved one is a devastating experience to be forced to endure. While no monetary award will ever be able to allow you to fully recover from this tragedy, it can alleviate some of the financial and emotional stress that you are going through. The attorneys at Our Law Offices have been representing clients in El Paso and the surrounding areas of Texas in personal injury wrongful death cases for many years. We offer only the most skilled legal representation and our practice is dedicated to ensuring that our client’s are more than pleased with the services we provide to them. If you have lost a loved one and would like to discuss the legal relief that may be available to you, contact the Law Offices of Carabin Shaw for a free consultation.