The Wild, Wild World Of Wrongful Death Law

The eyes of the law is partial to wrongful death law for a number of reasons. First, the subject of the case is already deceased and therefore, cannot technically sue for damages. And that’s why wrongful death cases can only be brought to court by a close family relative of the person who has passed away. To-date, no legal remedy yet exists that can allow the dear departed to be represented in the courts of law.

However, with the advent of AI or artificial intelligence, doors might open that can possibly allow for a deceased person to be represented as in the case of a robot or a human software. But then again, that is peering way too far ahead into the future; a detour is in order.

At Death’s Door: How a Case Proceeds from a Dead Person

Also when it comes to wrongful death law, the subject is often referred to as the decedent. This is the legal term for a person who has died. The premise of the law in question is actually very simple when you come to think of it.

In a nutshell, it’s a case against anyone or anything that has caused the death of someone. Although the definition of someone can refer to a pet such as a dog or a cat, there has not been many sightings of such cases being filed. Also, the loss of an entity as opposed to an individual has rarely figured as a cause for filing a wrongful death case. If the opposite were true, then just about anyone could sue for the wrongful death of his or her business or even a way of life.

How It All Began

The landmark case for wrongful death dates as far back as 1846 and is commonly referred to as the Lord Campbell Act. Since then, related or similar cases have built steadily on the original premise of the act in the usual manner that legal precedents do.

The Curious Case for Civil Arbitration

One key difference that sets wrongful death law apart from a murder or similar investigation is that it is always a civil suit instead of a criminal prosecution. As such, the burden of proof isn’t as heavy as a criminal case. In this manner, wrongful death arbitration becomes similar to personal injury law or even car accident law.

The burden of proof in the case of wrongful death varies from country to country and in the case of the United States, from state to state. For example, in Australia, having signed what is known as a waiver is an effective means to deter a person from pursuing any wrongful death claim. Generally, in the U.S., the standard of proof being applied is just how much evidence the accuser has. Thus, the case succeeds in the plaintiff’s favor when a litany of evidence is presented as opposed to say, burden of proof, beyond reasonable doubt or litmus test.

Death Law Origins

Wrongful death prosecution originates from what is known in the courts of England as tort law. The keyword here is tortious, as when someone is tortured or inflicted damage in one way or another. As the mother of all injury laws, a thread runs through from the parent and down to the child. This makes wrongful death law a direct descendant of all tort litigation.