A bereft woman reaches for her missing loved one at sunset on the beach.

The relationship between wrongful death and negligence can make the loss of a loved one more frustrating and difficult to accept than usual.

Since personal injury lawsuits must be filed by the victim of the negligence, your loved one won’t be able to get justice for themselves. With a wrongful death lawsuit, you can seek justice on their behalf.

If you have lost a loved one due to a third party’s negligence, contact Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath today. Our Florida wrongful death attorneys are standing by to help.

What is a wrongful death case?

If your loved one died due to the wrongful actions of a third party, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim. With a wrongful death claim, you can recover financial compensation from the at-fault party for the loss of your family member.

The at-fault party did not have to be intentionally homicidal. For example, a driver who was driving under the influence and crashed into your loved one’s vehicle or a doctor who misdiagnoses your loved one’s illness.

These individuals did not intend for death to result from their actions, but they should be held liable for their mistakes.

Wrongful Death Caused by Negligence

For a successful wrongful death claim, you will need to prove negligence in court. Legally, negligence is determined by a duty, a breach of the duty, causation, and resulting damages.


For an individual to be liable for a negligent death, they must have had a “duty of care” to the deceased party. A duty of care is a requirement for every individual to behave in a way that does not cause undue harm to others around them.

The courts ask, “What would a reasonable person do under the same conditions?”  If they would behave the way that the defendant did, then it is unlikely that their actions were actually negligent. However, if they would not have behaved like the negligent party due to the foreseeable harm it would cause others, then it is likely that their actions were negligent.

Some examples of duty of care:

  • Following traffic laws
  • Performing necessary post-operative checks on patients
  • Maintaining safe business properties for customers to visit

Breach of Duty

Once your wrongful death attorney has proven that a duty of care existed toward your loved one, they will then need to prove that the negligent party breached this duty, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

Examples of breaches of duty of care include:

  • Speeding
  • Driving while under the influence
  • Not cleaning up spills or obstructions on the ground once the owner is aware of them
  • Neglecting patients
  • Prescribing incorrect medication

Proving Fault

Proving fault, also known as “causation”, is the step that relates the negligence of the third party to the wrongful death of your loved one.

Once an individual is found to be in breach of their duty of care, your attorney must prove how this breached duty of care caused your loved one’s death. Essentially, it is the step that proves that the negligent person was at fault for your loved one’s death.

Causation comes in two forms: cause in fact and proximate cause.

Cause in fact means that it can be conclusively determined that the individual’s actions caused the death of your loved one. They would not have perished if it were not for the individual’s negligence.

Proximate cause looks at foreseeability. This deals with the negligent party’s level of responsibility. The courts will determine whether it was foreseeable that the negligent actions could have caused your loved one’s death. If so, then the at-fault party will be deemed to have been the proximate cause of death.

Examples of causation in wrongful death cases:

  • The doctor leaving an instrument in your loved one’s body leads to sepsis that kills them.
  • A speeding car crashed into your loved one’s vehicle, causing them to bleed out.


The final step in winning a wrongful death lawsuit is proving that you and your loved one were damaged by the negligent actions of the third party. In this case, it is easy to prove since your loved one lost their life, the most significant type of damage there is.

Once you have proved that the accident caused damage to your loved one and their direct family members, you can put forward your claim for damages.

In cases of wrongful death, damages can be claimed for the deceased individual for losses that they suffered due to the accident. Additionally, you can claim damages for financial and emotional losses that your household has suffered due to losing your direct family member and their contributions.

Struggling after the wrongful death of a loved one? We can help.

If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, you need a wrongful death lawyer to help you handle the complicated details of your lawsuit. Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath know how to let you grieve while we handle the legal case for you. Rest assured that justice will be served for your loved one when you work with us.