Losing a loved one is never easy. This loss is compounded when you lose someone due to another person’s wrongful or careless actions. While no amount of money could ever replace the hole the loss has left for you and your family, a wrongful death lawsuit can help recover financially for losses you may have experienced due to their passing. Read on to learn more about proving wrongful death in CA and what an experienced attorney can help you recover. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Frederick Law Firm.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death occurs when another person’s negligent or intentional acts cause a person’s death.
Pursuing a wrongful death claim holds the responsible party accountable for their actions. Unlike criminal prosecutions, wrongful death claims are civil cases that help the filing party recover compensatory damages. These damages are awarded to ease the financial burden of the filing party, usually a surviving loved one. However, the filing party must prove their claim to recover financial compensation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death lawsuit helps compensate the family of a victim for the losses experienced as a result of the death. The following persons are allowed to file wrongful death claims based on the death of a loved one in California:
- A surviving spouse,
- A surviving registered domestic partner,
- Surviving children or grandchildren,
- Other minor children who lived with the deceased person and were at least 50% dependent on them for financial support, and
- Certain other individuals who depended on the deceased person, such as stepchildren or surviving parents.
If the person had no surviving spouse or children, anyone who would be entitled to inherit under state law may file a wrongful death claim.
Common Accidents Resulting in Wrongful Death
Wrongful deaths occur in many settings, including at work and in public and private places like sidewalks, roadways, and grocery stores. The most common types of accidents giving rise to wrongful death claims include the following:
- Car accidents,
- Medical malpractice,
- Work accidents,
- Defective products,
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents,
- Commercial truck accidents, and
- Intentional assault.
The most common thread tying wrongful death claims together is that a loved one may have lived had a negligent act not taken place. If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s actions, consider speaking with an attorney to explore your options for financial compensation.
How Do I Prove Wrongful Death in California?
A filing party’s most common question is, How do you prove a wrongful death lawsuit? Most wrongful death claims in CA require establishing the four elements of a negligence claim.
Duty of Care
The defendant must have owed the decedent a duty of care. A duty of care is a legal obligation to use reasonable care to avoid injuring others. For example, a California driver must reasonably operate their vehicle and adhere to all traffic laws.
Once the duty is established, the next element of negligence is proving that the defendant breached this duty. In the above example, if a driver operated their vehicle while intoxicated, they have breached this duty of care by breaking the law prohibiting driving while under the influence.
The causation element requires proof that the defendant’s breach of their duty of care caused your loved one’s death. In the drunk driver example, if the defendant’s conduct caused a collision that killed your loved one, the causation element would likely be satisfied.
Finally, surviving family members must have suffered financial and other losses due to the victim’s death.
It’s challenging to recover the financial compensation you and your loved ones deserve without clearly establishing the required elements of negligence.
What Can I Recover?
Recoverable damages in a wrongful death claim differ from those in personal injury claims because they are based on the surviving family members’ losses, not those of the deceased person. The damages that survivors may receive include the following:
- Loss of a decedent’s love, companionship, comfort, care, and support;
- Loss of training and guidance;
- Financial support that a decedent would have provided during a survivor’s lifetime;
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Lost wages that a decedent would have earned if they had lived; and
- Loss of consortium.
Placing a value on the void left by a loved one seems an impossible task. While no amount of money could ever replace a loved one, it can help you weather financial difficulties caused by your loved one’s passing.
How Can An Attorney Help Me?
Trusting the skills and experience of a reputable wrongful death attorney helps ensure you receive the best possible result in your lawsuit. Attorneys with experience in wrongful death lawsuits understand the procedure and types of wrongful death claims that may be brought in court.
Filing the Lawsuit
An experienced wrongful death attorney understands the procedure for filing the necessary documents to get your lawsuit filed. Avoid unnecessary delays due to procedural errors by relying on an attorney.
A skilled attorney investigates the details surrounding the death of your loved one. They interview all witnesses, analyze camera footage and photographs, and review police reports and other evidence to gain a clear picture of the events leading to the wrongful death.
Calculating a Case’s Value
Before you can begin the negotiation process, you must first understand the value of your case. After analyzing the evidence and facts surrounding the death of your loved one, your attorney calculates an estimated value for your case to drive settlement discussions.
As you focus on your recovery, your attorney works to negotiate with the liable party or their insurer. Your attorney uses the evidence gathered through their investigation of your claim to negotiate a just settlement and avoid the arduous process of litigating your case at trial.
If settlement negotiations fail to progress favorably, your attorney prepares your case for trial. Your attorney uses the multiple resources at their fingertips, including experts, relevant evidence, and courtroom tactics to bring your case to a successful conclusion.
For over forty years, the legal team at Frederick Law Firm has advocated for victims when they need it the most. We treat our clients like family during the most challenging time in their life, so you know you’re never alone. Our strong and skilled attorneys help ensure you are never taken advantage of in your case. We provide our clients with in-depth trial experience and an understanding of courtroom procedures. When you need a committed personal injury attorney, the attorneys at Frederick Law Firm are the right choice. Contact us by phone or email for a free consultation, and find out how we can help you.