A “wrongful death” occurs when a person dies in an accident due to someone else’s negligence or intentional laxness and, unfortunately, in the state of Californiait is more common than you would think. Negligent drivers, dangerous workplaces, defective products, and careless property owners could all cause preventable fatal accidents. Losing a loved one as a result of another party’s negligence is a terrible experience, and while no amount of money can replace a life, family members can find justice through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Any type of accidental death may qualify as a wrongful death, such as car accidents caused by an unsafe driver, fog-related auto accidents, poorly repaired roads, product defects, physical abuse or medical malpractice
Some common causes of wrongful deaths include:
- Construction accidents
- Criminal activity
- Medical malpractice, errors, and mistakes
- Automobile and motorcycle accidents
- Boating or recreational accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Work-related accidents
- Animal attacks and dog bites
- Defective, unsafe or malfunctioning products
- Exposure to toxic substances
The following parties are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- A surviving spouse in case the victim was married
- Adult child of the victim
- Parents or siblings (if there are no direct survivors)
- Registered domestic partner
- Others financially dependent individuals
The court allows a single wrongful death case and if multiple individuals file wrongful death claims, the court consolidates them into a single case.
The damages that each different party can recover will vary depending on their own specific and personal losses from the death. The law gives the court discretion to determine the rights of each party to certain damages. Damages in wrongful death claims are meant to compensate for the value of support the plaintiff would have expected to receive from their deceased family member. This usually comes in the form of compensatory damages, which is usually broken up into economic and non-economic damages.
Compensation is never a guarantee, but it’s possible that you could be awarded damages for:
- Funeral expenses
- Lost income
- Loss of anticipated financial support
- Past and future lost wages and benefits
- Medical expenses related to the decedent’s final injury or illness
- Emotional pain and suffering
Recovering any compensation for a loved one’s death may not always be easy, but recovery on these claims is often possible with the guidance of the right legal counsel. In general, proving a wrongful death claim takes evidence that someone was negligent and that this caused your loved one’s fatal injury. Negligence is made up of four main elements your experienced wrongful death attorney must prove to be more likely true than not true.
- Duty of Care: The plaintiff must first prove the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased person. Examples include the duty motorists owe to drive safely, or the duty a property owner has to protect their visitors from harm.
- Breach of the Duty: There must be proof of the defendant’s breach of his or her duty of care. A breach can refer to any action or omission that falls outside of the defendant’s duty of care. If another person would have done something differently, the defendant may be guilty of a breach of duty.
- Causation: The defendant is only responsible for the damages that resulted from the untimely death they caused. This principle is known as causation. If the plaintiff cannot establish a link between their losses and the breached duty of care, they are not entitled to compensation.
- Damages: Finally, the plaintiff will need proof that the defendant’s negligence gave you compensable losses, that they have suffered real, measurable damages due to the wrongful death. Your lawyer can help you list the damages that accompanied your loved one’s death, such as medical bills, property damages, lost wages, funeral expenses and mental anguish.
The California wrongful death lawyers at Workers’ Advocate Law Group know how difficult it can be to cope with the loss of a loved one. We will do everything in our power to alleviate the stress and help you recover the compensation you need to move on with life. We have the skills and resources to hold the responsible parties accountable for wrongful death and the determination to help you find the justice you deserve.
File your claim and schedule your free consultation in English or Spanish today. Count on an experienced lawyer from Workers’ Advocate Law Group who has extensive experience in fighting for their clients’ rights.