Seeking Closure for Wrongful Death

Seeking Closure: Understanding How Burden of Proof Works in Wrongful Death Cases

Filing a legal claim in the wake of a loved one’s death is not just about seeking financial compensation – it’s about finding a measure of justice and closure for a life unfairly cut short. Although the process can be filled with complexities and challenges, you can achieve a measure of healing and justice with the right information and support.

The legal term “burden of proof” refers to the responsibility of proving or disproving a disputed fact. If you’re suing another person, a company, or an insurance company for wrongful death damages, whoever has the burden of proof is the one who has to prove something in trial and convince the court of their arguments to win.

Depending on the type of case, the burden of proof can have different standards – for example, a preponderance of the evidence, clear and convincing evidence, or beyond a reasonable doubt. The higher the burden of proof, the greater the evidence you need to prove your case. When it comes to wrongful death cases in California, an experienced lawyer can help you meet the necessary standards for a successful claim.

What Is the Burden of Proof in California Wrongful Death Cases?

In wrongful death cases, the burden of proof belongs to the plaintiff – the party filing the claim. That means if you’re seeking justice for the loss of your loved one, it’s your responsibility to prove that the defendant’s negligence caused your loved one’s death.

California, similar to other state laws, uses the preponderance of the evidence standard for wrongful death cases. This is lower than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard required to convict a defendant in criminal cases. Essentially, you must show that it is more likely than not that the defendant’s negligent or intentional acts led to your loved one’s passing.

This standard of proof emphasizes the importance of gathering enough evidence to present a compelling case that links the defendant’s behavior to the unfortunate outcome. Unlike in criminal trials, where the accused must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, a wrongful death claim does not need to eliminate every possible doubt. Instead, you must tilt the balance of evidence in your favor – in other words, show that it’s “more likely than not” or more than 50% likely that your claim is true.

Understanding your burden of proof is crucial because it shapes how your legal team prepares your case, affecting everything from the types of evidence you gather to which arguments you present in court. The standard sets a clear objective for you to meet to win your case.

What Evidence Do You Need to Prove Wrongful Death?

Proving wrongful death requires a meticulous collection of evidence that supports your case. 

  • Medical Records and Autopsy Report – Medical records demonstrate the cause of death and can suggest whether it was due to negligence or a deliberate act. Autopsy reports offer detailed insights into the exact cause of death, helping establish a clear connection between the wrongful act and the fatality.
  • Eyewitness Statements – Testimonies from individuals who were present at the time of the incident or have relevant information about the events leading up to your loved one’s death can be invaluable. These firsthand accounts can support your claims by corroborating details of negligence or misconduct.
  • Photographic or Video Evidence – Visual evidence such as photos from the scene, surveillance footage, or video recordings can be extremely powerful. This type of media can substantiate your claims and show the conditions or actions that led to the death.
  • Expert Testimony – Specialists in fields relevant to your case, such as accident reconstruction experts or medical professionals, can provide expert opinions that support your claims, with insights that clarify what happened to cause the wrongful death.
  • Other Records – Police reports, employment records, driver’s qualification files, or any other documents that shed light on the defendant’s behavior can help establish fault.

Because the stakes are so high in wrongful death cases, the defendant or their insurance company may put up a fight against your claims to avoid taking responsibility. Each piece of evidence plays a vital role in building and strengthening a comprehensive and compelling case that argues persuasively for the truth of your claim.

How Can a Lawyer Help Your Wrongful Death Claim?

A good wrongful death attorney can provide not just legal guidance but also emotional support through a daunting time of intense grief, helping you understand your rights and navigate the complexities of the law during this challenging time.

A lawyer with experience handling wrongful death cases will know precisely what types of evidence will best strengthen your case and how to go about collecting tangible proof. Your lawyer can manage the various intricate processes such as filing the lawsuit and all paperwork within the appropriate deadlines and negotiating with insurance companies.

Your attorney’s expertise allows them to anticipate and counter the arguments of the defense, ensuring that your case is as strong as possible. But perhaps most importantly, your attorney acts as your advocate, giving you the space to focus on healing while they focus on securing justice for your loved one and your family. An experienced lawyer understands what’s at stake and commits themselves to pursuing the maximum possible compensation for your case.

Navigating the aftermath of a loved one’s wrongful death is a journey no one should have to walk alone. Understanding the legal process, gathering the necessary evidence, and partnering with a compassionate attorney can provide a path toward closure and justice. While no legal outcome can replace your loss, a proper settlement can offer a sense of justice and financial security that allows you to focus on honoring the memory of your loved one.

At Sepulveda Sanchez Law, we have the strength, patience, and resilience to get you through the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. When you work with us, your family can focus on healing while we handle the details of your case. We take wrongful death claims on a contingency fee basis so you don’t have to worry about paying us unless we win for you. Contact us now to speak to our knowledgeable legal team.