·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Lawsuits & Litigation

How to Prove a Negligent Homicide by Car Accident

— March 17, 2023

Your lawyer will help you draw up a list of damages that you and your family incurred upon the death of your loved one.

Accidents happen on the road all the time. Most mishaps may leave nothing more than minor dents or scratches on cars and, thankfully, don’t result in criminal charges. 

But if one of the drivers involved was somehow especially negligent with their driving causing the death of another, they could be charged with homicide.

So, what can you do after a car accident that leads to a loved one’s death? Today, we’ll walk you through the steps to file and win a wrongful death claim.

What is Negligent Homicide?

Negligent homicide is the lowest level of all homicide charges. You’d be charged with this if you caused a death on the road because you were driving unsafely.

Those who are unaware that their way of driving can harm others can also be criminally negligent because it’s their responsibility as a driver to know these before hitting the road in the first place.

Some of the most common acts that lead to negligent homicide by car accident include speeding, not following road signs, running a stoplight, and being distracted by your phone while driving. When these acts lead to another person’s demise, it puts you at risk of receiving a criminal charge.

The deceased person’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, and grandchildren can file a negligent homicide case. Other additional relatives that can make a claim include the victim’s grandparents and even stepchildren.

How to Prove Negligent Homicide

Proving negligent homicide can be tricky. Most of the time, drivers who might have caused the death of another person aren’t unlawful or evil. 

Something as innocent as taking your eyes off the road to reply to an important text message can lead to fatalities, even if you have no ill intentions. Unfortunately, this is considered negligence and is grounds for being charged with homicide.

Your goal as a plaintiff is to prove that the driver behind the wheel was negligent while driving—that is, did not exercise the right amount of care to keep your loved one safe. Here’s how to do that, step by step.

Step 1: Hire a wrongful death attorney

Dealing with death can be incredibly stressful. You might not be in the right headspace to file a legal complaint regarding the accident after going through such a traumatic event.

To ease the process for you and your loved ones, hiring a wrongful death attorney is best to help you figure out a game plan for your wrongful death claim. 

Some of the best law firms to contact for representation are personal injury law firms like Adamson Ahdoot. These attorneys are well-versed in areas like motor accidents and injury leading to death, so they’ll be the right people to pursue justice. 

After learning about your case, your lawyer will determine a litigation strategy to strengthen your case.

Step 2: Illustrate the duty of care

Proving that a driver committed negligent homicide requires you to prove the 4 elements of negligence—the first of which is illustrating duty of care.

Duty of care is the notion that the driver responsible for the death owed the person who passed away consideration for their safety. 

In most states, all motorists owe each other duty of care. That means they should all be responsible enough to know road rules and regulations to keep each other safe. 

With the help of a lawyer, you can also illustrate the duty of care to sue the driver behind the wheel of the car your loved one was in when the accident happened. This might be a driver hired to care for the person who died. 

Step 3: Prove the breach of that duty of care

Once you’ve established a duty of care by the driver to your loved one, it’s time to prove that there was a breach of this duty. 

This refers to the negligent act on the road that leads to death, whether it’s speeding, tailgating, being on the phone while driving, or any other reason that results in careless driving.

In the case of a hired driver, one example to prove that there was a breach in the duty of care might be that they did not inform the passenger to put their seatbelt on and then proceeded to drive recklessly.

Step 4: Show the causation of injury

Next, you must show that the breach of duty of care did, in fact, cause the death of your loved one. That means medical records, police reports, or any other evidence showing that the driver’s negligence harmed the person who passed away. 

You must prove that the victim would still be alive today if it were not for the driver’s negligent acts. For this, try to gather as much evidence as possible, such as videos of the actual car crash or a witness willing to testify.

Opioid Deaths Will Rise Due to Mixing, New JAMA Study Warns
Photo by MART PRODUCTIOIN from Pexels

Step 5: Determine the damages caused by the death

Lastly, your lawyer will help you draw up a list of damages that you and your family incurred upon the death of your loved one. These include medical bills, reduced earning capacity of the family, the psychological distress of surviving relatives, and more.

These damages will also be the basis of the compensation the court will honor you if you win the case.

Proving Negligence is Possible with the Right Representation

Court cases can add even more stress during an already difficult time when you’re grieving a loved one who passed away after a car accident. 

But taking the proper legal action can help mitigate expenses from the hospital or funeral services and serve the justice your loved one deserves. That’s an extra weight lifted off your shoulders when you’re at your lowest.

To make sure you have enough time and headspace to recover from a loss due to negligent homicide, make sure to hire a personal injury attorney to help get justice for your loved one and navigate your wrongful death claim.

Join the conversation!