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What Constitutes Wrongful Death Under Personal Injury Law? October 9, 2018

La Crosse, La Crosse County
What Constitutes Wrongful Death Under Personal Injury Law?, La Crosse, Wisconsin

Losing a loved one is always devastating, but it can be especially tragic if the death was entirely preventable. When someone dies in an unanticipated way, it can affect surviving family members for years to come. In addition to the emotional impact of losing their relative, they may have to cope with various financial challenges. If the deceased supported them, for example, they must find a new stream of income — unless they have the grounds to file a wrongful death claim under personal injury law. What constitutes such a claim, though, and how can you go about building a strong case?

A Duty of Care

personal injury lawTo file a wrongful death suit that ultimately results in a payout, claimants must prove three elements: a duty of care, a breach of this duty, and resulting damages. The duty of care might have been implied among strangers — like it is between motorists — or it might have been established on a personal level — as it is between doctors and their patients. Motorists owe it to those on the road around them to follow all local traffic laws and avoid driving while drunk, drowsy, or distracted. Likewise, all physicians must provide each patient with care that is reasonable and widely accepted given the circumstances.

A Breach of Said Duty

Negligence — or a breach of the duty of care — is the foundation of all successful wrongful death cases. If you’re unsure how to prove the liable party’s negligence was directly responsible for your loved one’s death, a personal injury law attorney can help. The strongest evidence of fault will depend on the circumstances of the case, but you can be sure a seasoned attorney will have whatever resources and strategies are needed to gather it. Proof that a motorist breached the duty of care might include eyewitness testimony, dash cam footage, and the results of any chemical tests. Proof of medical malpractice, on the other hand, could include medical records, diagnostic images, and statements from experts in the field.

Resulting Damages

It is wise to seek legal counsel immediately following an accidental death because, in addition to gathering sufficient evidence of negligence, you need to track all damages. Proving the liable party breached their duty of care is not enough to negotiate for a payout in a wrongful death suit; you must also prove your family incurred actual losses as a direct result of the breach. This is the final element of building a strong case.


If you want to file a wrongful death claim in Wisconsin, turn to Attorney Ronald Fitzpatrick in La Crosse. An unwavering advocate for vulnerable parties, Ronald Fitzpatrick is proud to help clients secure what is rightfully theirs. With a focus on personal injury law, his areas of expertise include Social Security disability, workers’ compensation, and premises liability. Visit his website to learn more about the legal services he provides, then call (608) 785-3900 to schedule an initial constellation with personal injury attorney.