Collecting evidence for wrongful death is essential for:
- Establishing what caused your loved one’s death
- Proving that your loved one died due to another’s negligence
- Calculating the damages you and your family are due
Unfortunately, the process of gathering evidence for wrongful death can be extremely difficult. The complexity of a legal matter, combined with the emotional toll of the loss, can make it difficult to know what evidence you need for a wrongful death claim and how to go about getting it.
Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop can provide the guidance and assistance you need in your time of grief. Our lawyers have an in-depth understanding of wrongful death negligence, and we know what kind of evidence is required to obtain the compensation our clients deserve.
Call (402) 241-5020 today for a FREE case review. Our wrongful death lawyers serve clients in Omaha, Sarpy County, and throughout Nebraska and nearby Iowa.
What Evidence Do I Need for Wrongful Death?
Before you can make a wrongful death claim, there has to be proof that the defendant was responsible for your loved one’s death. The following evidence may be necessary to prove liability:
Comprehensive medical records will enable a wrongful death lawyer to tie the demise of your loved one to the defendant’s negligence. Medical records should include the following:
- Diagnostic imaging and lab test results
- The physician’s notes on the case
- Prescribed medications and dosages
- Medical evaluations
- Consultation notes
- Other relevant information
An autopsy report usually contains information about the exact cause of death. A lawyer can review the report in detail with expert witnesses to establish what role negligence may have played.
Nebraska law does not require an autopsy when (a) “the death occurred due to trauma resulting from an accident,” and (b) no suspicious circumstances were involved (see Nebraska Revised Statute 23-1824). If the county did not perform an autopsy, it may be necessary to have a pathologist conduct a private autopsy to pinpoint the cause of death.
Photos & Video
Pictures and, if available, video of the accident scene are invaluable for establishing the sequence of events that led to a fatal accident. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help obtain photos and video footage from witnesses, the authorities, private property owners, etc.
Statements from eyewitnesses can also help your case. It is crucial to get their testimony as soon as possible, before memories of the event begin to fade.
Depending on the circumstances, one or more agencies may have investigated the incident that led to your loved one’s death. Accident reports contain unbiased accounts from law enforcement and investigative professionals, making them crucial evidence for wrongful death.
Expert Witness Testimony
An expert witness is someone who has significant professional knowledge and expertise in a particular field. Their expertise is often sought in legal matters and court cases, including wrongful death claims. Expert witness testimony can play an important role in helping you win your case.
A wrongful death claim is meant to help you recover the damages brought about by the loss of your loved one. These losses—such as medical expenses prior to death, loss of income and financial support, etc.—must be supported by strong documentary evidence and testimony from experts.
How Do I Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Case?
Nebraska’s wrongful death law imposes liability on defendants whose “wrongful act, neglect, or default” would have left them liable for personal injury had the victim survived. The claim can only be brought by the personal representative of the deceased “for the exclusive benefit of the decedent’s next of kin.”
To prove negligence, the following elements must be established:
- Duty of care: It must be shown that the at-fault party owed your loved one a duty of care and that they had an obligation to act in a manner that kept your loved one reasonably safe. For example, drivers are required to adhere to the rules of the road.
- Breach of duty: The evidence must demonstrate how the defendant breached or violated the obligation they owed to your loved one, resulting in their death.
- Causation: The cause of your loved one’s death must be clearly established, and the evidence must show a causal connection between the defendant’s negligence or wrongdoing and your relative’s passing.
- Damages or losses: A wrongful death lawyer will collect evidence of the damages you and your family have sustained as a result of the tragic loss.
How Do I Prove Wrongful Death Damages?
Although compensation cannot bring back your loved one, it can help provide some measure of financial security for you and your family. The value of your case largely depends on the extent of damages or losses.
Surviving family members may be able to seek compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses for the treatment of your loved one up to the time they passed
- Funeral and burial costs
- Lost wages and economic benefits
- Loss of household support
- Household management expenses
- Loss of companionship, comfort, and society
A wrongful death attorney will review bills, financial statements, and consult experts to account for all of the losses in your case. Your lawyer can pursue fair compensation through settlement negotiations or by filing a lawsuit and going to trial (if necessary).
Our Omaha Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Help
Wrongful death claims are complex legal matters. Strong evidence is required to prove causation, negligence on the part of the defendant, and the damages in your case. Attorneys at Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop can gather evidence for wrongful death and prepare a strong case on your behalf so you and your family can focus on mourning and rebuilding your life.