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How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?

Colburn Law

Losing a loved one is an unimaginably painful experience, and it becomes even more heart-wrenching when the loss is due to someone else’s negligence or misconduct. This is where the concept of wrongful death comes into play, offering a legal avenue for families to seek justice and compensation for their immense loss. During periods of grief and confusion, it is important to have the help of a Seattle wrongful death attorney.

A wrongful death claim can arise from various situations, such as medical malpractice, vehicular accidents, or intentional acts, such as assault. To prove a wrongful death lawsuit, families will need to gather evidence to establish the four elements of negligence: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

Duty of Care

The first step in proving a wrongful death claim involves establishing a duty of care. This legal term refers to the obligation of one party to avoid causing harm to another. In a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must show that the defendant had a responsibility to uphold the safety of the deceased.

For instance, a doctor has a duty of care to their patients to provide competent medical treatment. Similarly, a driver has a responsibility to follow traffic laws and not endanger other road users.

Evidence to prove this point can include contracts, policies, or laws that outline the defendant’s responsibilities, testimonies from experts, or even surveillance footage that demonstrates the expected standard of care in similar circumstances.

Breath of Duty

After establishing a duty of care, the plaintiff will then need to demonstrate that the defendant breached this duty. This means showing that the defendant’s actions or inactions fell below the accepted standard of care.

For example, if a driver was driving under the influence, this action would constitute a breach of duty because it endangers other road users. To prove this element, families might rely on police reports, eyewitness accounts, or evidence of the defendant’s intoxication via blood or breath tests.


Causation is the link between the breach of duty and the wrongful death, proving that the defendant’s negligence directly caused the wrongful death. This step often requires a detailed investigation and possibly the testimony of experts who can attest that the death would not have occurred if not for the defendant’s negligence. For instance, in medical malpractice cases, a medical expert might need to testify that the incorrect treatment or diagnosis directly led to the patient’s death.


The final component of a wrongful death claim involves demonstrating the damages or losses resulting from the death. This encompasses not only the immediate financial losses, such as funeral costs and lost future income but also non-economic damages suffered by the family, such as pain and suffering and loss of companionship. Several pieces of documentation can support claims for damages, such as bills, pay stubs, and expert testimony on the deceased’s expected lifetime earnings.

Build a Compelling Case with a Personal Injury Attorney

Navigating a wrongful death claim can be complex and emotionally taxing. A Seattle personal injury lawyer can provide the expertise that families need to gather and analyze evidence, build a compelling case, and represent their loved ones’ interests in court. If your family is facing the tragedy of a wrongful death, contact a lawyer as soon as possible and begin your journey toward justice and healing.