Wrongful death claims are unique in many ways. One challenge for grieving family members if finding sufficient evidence to establish that a wrongful death happened. Without this evidence, you can do little more than point a finger at the person you blame for your loved one’s death, but that won’t be enough to get you compensation.
At Powers & Santola, LLP we work closely with surviving family members to build up a claim for compensation. Our Syracuse wrongful death lawyers highlight some of the most important evidence below.
Your Loved One’s Testimony
We tend to assume that all victims of wrongful death die immediately, but that’s just not true. Sometimes, a person is seriously injured but still lives for days or possibly even weeks in the hospital. For example, your child might have been struck by a drunk driver while riding his bicycle. He is conscious but badly hurt and only passes a few days later.
While conscious, your loved one might have talked about the accident—what they were doing, where the accident happened, and so forth. This evidence could be critical to a wrongful death lawsuit brought later.
Other witnesses are a good source of information about the accident. They saw what happened and can offer testimony at trial.
Witnesses might include:
- Other motorists if your loved one died in a car, truck, or pedestrian accident.
- Bystanders who saw your loved one trip or fall.
- Other workers if your loved one was fatally injured on the job, such as other construction workers.
If the police visit the accident scene, they are probably tasked with finding and speaking to witnesses. We can identify their names by looking at the police report, and then interview them as your lawyer to build a case.
One challenge in a wrongful death case is to connect your loved one’s death to the injuries they suffered in an accident. Unless the death was instantaneous, the connection isn’t always so obvious.
For example, your loved one might have been exposed to toxic chemicals at work. Three years later she develops cancer and passes. Did the toxic chemicals “cause” cancer and death? If the answer is “no,” then you don’t have a wrongful death claim based on toxic exposure.
We rely on medical records to establish this causal link. We can also work with expert witnesses who have decades of medical experience to help prove this connection. Remember to share with your Syracuse wrongful death attorney the names of all the doctors and hospitals your loved one received treatment from.
Sometimes the video will capture the fatal accident. Common examples include any incident that happens in a business. Most companies have closed-circuit TV for insurance purposes, and your attorney can ask the business to preserve the video for future inspection. Video evidence can help us see what happened.
In a few cases, a motorist on the road will have a dash cam which captured the crash, or a private property owner will have video of their driveway. This video can also capture accidents.
Certain physical evidence can help us recreate the incident that led to your loved one’s death. For example:
- Damage on a car can help us see how the vehicles collided.
- Bullets at a crime scene are evidence of the location of the person firing the gun.
- Debris at a construction site allows us to recreate a building or scaffolding collapse.
Physical evidence isn’t critical to every case, but sometimes it is. Your legal team should feel comfortable fully investigating an accident to find as much helpful information as possible. In the event of a violent crime, the police will take the lead on the investigation.
You might seek compensation for the cost of medical care to treat your loved one before their passing. You need to establish the cost of this care, so please preserve all medical bills, insurance statements, receipts, and so on.
Proving your “damages” is a big challenge in Syracuse wrongful death cases. Work closely with your attorney who will have other ideas about how to document losses.
Did You Lose a Loved One in an Accident?
The Syracuse wrongful death attorneys at Powers & Santola, LLP, are here to help family members in distress over the death of a loved one. We have decades of combined experience bringing wrongful death claims against motorists, trucking companies, businesses, and property owners. To find out more about how we can help, contact us to schedule a free consultation.