Negligent death, also known as wrongful death, is the death of someone due to the fault of another person or entity. The surviving family members can bring suit against the at-fault individual or entity to help compensate them for associated damages having to do with their loved one’s death.
Proving Negligence in Wrongful Death
For a case to be considered a wrongful death, there has to be a fault at play. There are specific elements for proving negligence, which includes:
Duty of care is one of the most complicated aspects of negligence. The general rule is everyone owes the public at large a duty to act reasonably. Some people in society owe a special duty to someone else. This includes the special duties a parent owes their child to protect them. Certain professions owe their clients a heightened duty such as doctors and lawyers, due to the vulnerabilities and confidences that are held in that type of professional relationship. To prove a case of negligent death, you have first to show that the defendant owed the deceased at least a general duty of care.
Breach: Once you have established that there was a duty owed to the person who was killed, you have to prove that the duty was subsequently breached.
Next, you must prove that the defendant’s breach was the cause of the injury and death of your loved one. There are two types of causation: actual and proximate. Actual causation is also known as “but for” causation. Meaning, but for the defendant’s breach, there would be no injury. Simply, if the defendant never breached their duty, your loved one would be alive. Actual causation is establishing a direct link between the defendant’s action (or inaction) and the damages you and your loved ones have suffered.
Can a Parent Be Responsible for a Child’s Wrongful Death? THE ANSWER IS YES
Both nature and law” expect parents to care for and watch after their children. Parents are expected to supervise their children and protect them from danger. But what happens when parents fail to live up to that expectation? Can the parent be held liable for the death of a child Yes in the other jurisdictions outside Nigeria, a parent can be held liable for the death of a child. See (Estate of Goodwin v. Nw. Mich. Fair Ass’n, 325 Mich. App. 129)
In that case, 6-year-old Ezekiel Goodwin was killed in an auto accident when a truck backed up into him. He had been riding his bicycle unsupervised on the service road between the campgrounds and the fairgrounds controlled by Northwest Michigan Fair Association. The jury said the accident was 50% the fault of the truck driver who hit Ezekiel and 50% the fault of the fairground for allowing vehicles on the service road during the fair. But the fair association had a contrary view which will be addressed in the next edition.