Nothing is going to bring your loved one back. While we wish we could turn back the clock and avoid the accident that led to your loved one’s death, we know that we cannot do that. Because of this, there is no perfect way to compensate you for the devastating loss that you have suffered.
But That Doesn’t Mean That You Shouldn’t Take Action
A wrongful death claim is still important. Through a wrongful death claim you may receive financial compensation for your loss and you may hold the person that was responsible for your loved one’s death accountable. Some of the damages that may be awarded in a wrongful death case or recovered in a settlement include:
- Medical bills directly related to the accident injuries from the time of the accident until your loved one’s death.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Lost income. This includes any income lost from the time of the accident until your loved one’s death and the future lost income that your loved one was reasonably expected to earn from the time of his death until his anticipated retirement date. It includes wages, benefits, and income from self-employment.
- Physical pain and emotional suffering that your loved one experienced from the time of the accident until the time of death.
- Loss of household services. The value of the work that your loved one did at home should be included in your recovery.
- Loss of love, guidance, emotional support and more. This is, perhaps, your most significant loss. While it can be difficult to value, it provides you with a chance to explain how your loved one’s death has impacted you and your family.
Do not count on the criminal justice system to hold the person who caused your loved one’s death accountable. Not every wrongful death is murder or manslaughter. The elements of a successful wrongful death claim are different from the standard to convict a person of a crime, and you may be successful in a wrongful death claim regardless of the whether or not a criminal case is brought. Even if the person who killed your loved one is convicted in a criminal case, it will not result in damages for you or your family. In order to recover damages, you will need to pursue a wrongful death case.
Do You Have a Wrongful Death Case?
You may have a wrongful death case if you can prove:
- That the defendant owed your loved one a duty of care and breached that duty of care by failing to act as a reasonable person. Alternatively, your claim will be successful if you can prove that the defendant acted intentionally.
- That the defendant’s actions, or inactions, caused your loved one’s death. You must be able to prove that your loved one would not have died but for the actions or inactions of the defendant.
- Damages were caused by your loved one’s wrongful death. You must be able to prove exactly how your loved one’s death resulted in damages and the value of those damages.
Any time these elements are met a wrongful death case may be brought. For example, you may have a wrongful death claim if your loved one died because of a:
- Car accident
- Bus accident
- Truck or commercial vehicle accident
- Bicycle accident
- Motorcycle accident
- Boating accident
- Pedestrian accident
- Fall accident
- Nursing home abuse or elder abuse incident
- Construction accident
- Farming accident
- Premises liability or negligent security
- Product liability
- Industrial equipment accident
- Birth injury
- Brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Electrocution injury
Before you can recover damages, however, you need to make sure that you know how wrongful death cases work and that you comply with all of the required rules.
How Does a Wrongful Death Claim Work in California?
As with other types of personal injury cases, there are specific rules about who can file a wrongful death case, how long they have to file a wrongful death case, and how a wrongful death case proceeds in the state of California.
Generally, you have the legal right (known as standing) to bring a wrongful death case if you have a specific relationship to the person who died. In California, you may have the right to bring the case if you were the decedent’s spouse, domestic partner, or child. If the person died without a spouse, domestic partner, or child then the lawsuit may be brought by another relative who would have been entitled to the decedent’s property because of the laws of intestate succession. This could include, for example, the parents or siblings of the person who died. Additionally, a stepchild and other specific relations may have standing to bring a case if they can prove that they were financially dependent on the person who died.
Your case must be brought within two years or your loved one’s death unless you meet one of the exceptions set forth by law. If you fail to meet this deadline then the defendant will almost certainly file a motion with the court seeking to dismiss your case and the court will grant that motion without providing your family with any compensation.
If these basic requirements are met then you must file a complaint in state court. Filing a complaint does not mean that settlement negotiations will stop, but it does keep your legal options open if a fair settlement cannot be reached.
Our attorneys are not afraid to go to trial, if necessary. However, before we go to trial we will make sure that you understand all of the benefits and risks so that you can make the right decision for you and your family.
Let Us Help You Honor Your Loved One
We want to know all about your loved one and about what the loss has meant to you and your family. By understanding your loved one and your grief, we can effectively communicate your loss to the defendant and the court. We want to tell your story and get you the fair and just damages that you deserve.
Find out more about how we can help you by contacting us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Learn more about us and your legal options so that you can make the decisions that are right for you and your family after the loss of a cherished loved one.