Meeting the burden of proof for a wrongful death claim

The courts offer people multiple ways to pursue justice after the death of a loved one. Under New Mexico state law, when an individual or business causes the death of a person through negligence, default or misconduct, surviving family members can sometimes bring a lawsuit against the responsible party.

A wrongful death lawsuit not only compensates those grieving an unnecessary family tragedy but also creates consequences for those whose actions negatively affect the lives of others. If you believe that your loved one’s death meets the state definition of wrongful death, you could potentially file a lawsuit to ask for compensation and justice.

However, you will need to meet the burden of proof for a civil claim to succeed in court.

What is the standard of evidence for a civil claim?

In a criminal case, a prosecutor needs to present evidence that convinces a jury or a judge of the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. It is a high standard of proof that only requires that a defendant provide a viable alternative explanation for the situation to avoid conviction. Police officers and prosecutors spend months developing such claims.

Thankfully, you don’t have to meet that same standard in a civil case. Instead, you simply need to show that a preponderance of evidence supports your position. For example, if the police officer responding to a car crash arrested a driver for impaired driving, you might be able to use those records to show wrongful acts or neglect even if the state did not prosecute.

In cases where the state does successfully prosecute, a conviction can often be strong evidence to help support your claim of wrongful actions.

The average family will need help gathering credible evidence

There are many ways to collect evidence regarding a wrongful death claim, ranging from getting copies of medical records to reviewing security camera footage. Gathering as much evidence as possible will make it harder for the other party to fight their responsibility for your losses.

It can be hard to determine what sources of evidence are available in your case and even more difficult to pursue those options without support. With the right help, your family can possibly hold a person or business accountable for causing the wrongful death of a loved one.

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