Request a Free Consultation

Four Essential Elements of a Wrongful Death Case

Updated February 23, 2023 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

After the unexpected death of your loved one, you are likely grieving and may also be struggling with financial loss. To seek compensation and justice, consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

Wrongful death claims are a type of personal injury claim where a victim was killed because of the negligence or intentional action of another person. At Wilson Kehoe Wininhgam, we are experienced in these types of cases.

Proving Wrongful Death

Like other personal injury cases, wrongful death claims put the burden of proof on the plaintiff, and your attorney will have to show the same four elements as other negligence claims.

Duty of Care

The first thing you need to prove in a wrongful death or other personal injury case is that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care. In other words, they had a responsibility for the safety of the victim. For example, drivers have a duty to follow the rules of the road, so anyone navigating a vehicle has a responsibility to act in a safe and reasonable manner.

Breach of Care

Then, you must show that the defendant breached that established duty of care by acting negligently, recklessly, or intentionally. When a death was caused by medical malpractice, for example, an expert witness could be used to testify about the medical error in question.


After outlining the duty of care and how the defendant failed to fulfill it, you have to show how the breach of care caused the victim’s wrongful death—without such negligence, the fatal accident would not have occurred. This causation may be obvious, or it could require extensive legal and investigative resources to uncover.


Finally, you need to prove that the wrongful death of the victim resulted in compensable damages. These damages could include funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, lost wages, and litigation costs, among other items. Calculating the financial losses of the victim’s surviving dependents and beneficiaries is how the final settlement amount is calculated.

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney Today

Navigating the complexities of a wrongful death lawsuit is especially difficult when you are grieving the loss of a loved one. Don’t go through the process alone; we can help.

If your loved one has been killed as a result of negligence, contact the Indianapolis Wrongful Death Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you and your family fight for the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

Contact Us

Let WKW put our experience to work for you. Contact us for your free case evaluation.


Or, call us today at (317) 920-6400

Located In Indianapolis
Back to Top