What Constitutes a Wrongful Death: A Look at The Basic Elements
Wrongful death form and stethoscope on a table.

There are not enough words to define the pain an individual experiences when losing a loved one, especially when the fate of their loved one’s life was in the hands of another. Negligent fatalities can happen in a number of ways, including auto accidents and medical malpractice. The term “wrongful death” has been misconstrued, however. It is important to understand what constitutes a wrongful death before filing a lawsuit. If you’re in need of legal assistance in Hobbs, then the Law Office of Javier Martinez can help. We are not only here to provide our support during this difficult time but we are here to help you understand what happens in these cases and what you need to know. 

Common Causes 

As was briefly mentioned, there are many instances that can result in wrongful deaths. Some other causes that can be constituted as a wrongful death include injuries at birth, product defects, occupational exposure and hazards, premises accidents, criminal actions, accidents during supervised activities, and abuse and neglect. If your loved one’s death occurred as a result of any of these examples, you can take it to court and file a lawsuit. 

How Wrongful Death is Defined by Law

The statutes for wrongful death can vary based on what exactly happened and what caused the matter of death. The law defines who can sue for wrongful death, the reason/cause for the death, and it also provides limits regarding the amount of compensation that can be given for damages. 


Most of the time, the argument of negligence is used when death was caused by an auto accident. When proving negligence, the surviving members of the deceased must show that the death was caused by the recklessness, negligence, or negligent or careless actions of the defendant. When this is shown, the defendant can be found guilty for their death. 

Breach of Duty 

Breach of duty refers to the idea that the defendant had a duty to fulfill, which is often caring for or looking after the person that is now deceased. If that duty was not fulfilled and is, in part, shown to have led to the death of an individual, the defendant can be found guilty. It is the responsibility of the plaintiff to determine how the defendant’s duties existed, how they were supposed to be in effect, and how they failed to care for the deceased individual. 


In addition to breach of duty, causation must be shown. Breach of duty refers to the defendant has been absent from their responsibilities, but causation is intended to specifically show how their absence led to the events in which the death took place. The plaintiff must also indicate how negligence plays a role in this situation. 


If there were expenses or damages that were done alongside the death, this can also be used to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Some damages include hospitalization, medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, loss of income and earnings, loss of protection, therapy, or some form of care or guidance, along with the suffering of the victim and what they experienced prior to their death. 


Of course, as long as this is shown, proven, or if there is substantial evidence, the defendant will be found guilty. Not only will the defendant be charged with the victim’s murder, but this may also count as an opportunity to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The wrongful death case would have to be a separate case, which would be represented as a civil matter. After that, you could take the case up to criminal matters and have the defendant charged for that as well. 


Medical malpractice can be considered a form of breach of duty. This definition of wrongful death is much more specific and happens rather often. As such, it has become its own element in wrongful death cases. If the doctor acts recklessly with the care that they provided to the victim which leads to death, the surviving members of the family can file a wrongful death lawsuit under medical malpractice statutes. 

Get the Legal Help You Deserve with the Law Office of Javier Martinez, Jr., P.C. 

At the Law Office of Javier Martinez, Jr., P.C., you have all the legal support you could need to get through a wrongful death lawsuit. If you’re ready to start a case, you can contact us today. We are ready to initiate the process whenever you are.