Exploring Civil Case Proceedings

Exploring Civil Case Proceedings

When Is A Death Wrongful Under Civil Law?

by Becky Freeman

Wrongful death lawyers work with clients who are seeking damages in civil court. This is an extension of injury law. However, the compensation goes to the closest surviving relatives rather than the victim.

If you're thinking about filing a wrongful death claim, you need to have a credible legal basis. What makes a death legally wrongful? Here is what affects a death's wrongfulness.


Foremost, a defendant has to be liable for whatever happened. Liability in civil law is the notion that someone had a duty to prevent the harm that occurred but was negligent, reckless, or malicious.

Suppose a motorist was driving 120 mph down a freeway. Every driver must operate their vehicle at a safe speed. If the hypothetical motorist collided with another vehicle, and the incident resulted in the death of a person in the other car, the speeding motorist would most likely be liable for the death.

Other circumstances can affect liability. Bad weather is a factor, especially if it was unanticipated. If lightning hits someone at an amusement park on a clear day, the park's operator probably isn't liable.

Percentage of Responsibility

Most negligence cases require a threshold of responsibility. In most states, this threshold is 51% or more. In other words, the defendant must be the party that's most responsible for the incident.

Using the previous example, maybe the victim was also speeding. However, they might have been traveling at 75 mph. The law may find that the victim was partially responsible. A subsequent settlement or jury judgment would deduct the victim's percentage of responsibility from the overall damages. If the case involved $1 million of damages and the victim was 10% responsible, then the award would be $900,000 in the example.

Notably, civil cases don't require criminal responsibility. Suppose the incident involved a crime. Worse, a criminal court found the defendant not guilty. Wrongful death lawyers still pursue many of these cases. For example, some families sue for damages in murder cases where defendants were acquitted. They often prevail, too, because the threshold for proving liability is lower in civil court.

Also, there are cases where responsibility is simplified. Strict liability applies to known dangerous activities. Imagine a construction company demolishing a building. The construction company has an explosives license, and that demands strict liability if anything goes wrong. All a lawyer has to show to prove a wrongful death is that the demolition was the proximate cause. If so, then the defendant is entirely liable.

Contact a wrongful death lawyer to learn more. 


About Me

Exploring Civil Case Proceedings

Hello and welcome, I'm Winfred Paulo. I have a passion for civil court cases of all kinds. Some time back, I ended up in the thick of a civil case after a lengthy dispute with my neighbor. The dispute went on for years and ended badly with an incident that landed us both in court. We had to prove our side of the case in an effort to obtain a positive outcome and recoup our losses. Unfortunately, I lost the case due to a lack of evidence. Since then, I've maintain a strong interest in civil cases and their proceedings. I will share information about civil cases on this site to help others understand these proceedings better. I may talk about legal terms, and expected outcomes for each case type. I hope you visit often to learn more. Thanks for stopping by my website.