If you’ve recently lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Pursued through the civil courts, this type of personal injury claim is known as a wrongful death case. Victims need to be aware that the burden of proof rests with them, and that a suit can only be successful if three critical elements are in place. 

Duty of Care

The first thing that a plaintiff must prove in their wrongful death case is that a duty of care existed. This means that the defendant had an obligation (either written or expressed) to behave with a certain level of care. As an example, consider an auto accident in which someone died because another driver ran a red light. Since the possession of a license requires drivers to follow the rules of the road, the red light runner has an implied duty of care. 

Breach of Duty of Care

Once the duty of care is proven, the plaintiff must then prove that a breach of that duty occurred. In short, this means that the defendant intentionally ignored their requirement to act with care. Continuing with the auto accident example, a victim could claim that the defendant breached their duty of care by running the red light instead of following the law. 


In addition to proving that there was a duty of care and a breach of it, the plaintiff in a wrongful death case must prove that the defendant’s actions directly caused the death of the victim. As an example, consider the red light runner accident. If the crash occurred because of the defendant, there is causation. However, if the victim’s car stalled and caused them to be stuck in the intersection when the red light runner entered into it, and that was the real cause of the crash, there is no causation. 

Our Seasoned San Jose Wrongful Death Lawyers Will Fight for You

Legal proceedings are the last thing you should be worried about after the loss of a loved one. Hogan Injury compassionately handles all of the legal matters so that you and your family can focus on what’s truly important. We aggressively pursue the most favorable outcome in every case. Schedule your free initial consultation with our Oakland personal injury attorneys by calling 866-205-4971 today.

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