Close relatives or survivors can file a wrongful bereavement suit if a loved one passes away due to the actions or lack thereof by another party. The purpose of the case is to compensate the surviving family members for their losses. Losses may come in many forms, such as the end of a relationship, financial hardship, or the need to pay for a loved one’s funeral.

When someone dies because of the negligence of another party, their family may file a wrongful death claim. It might be anyone from the at-fault motorist to the bartender who provided drinks to a visibly intoxicated motorist.While each state’s wrongful death law is unique, they all establish who can file a claim for damages following a fatal accident and how much money can be awarded. The laws were initially enacted to help sustain families left behind after a fatal accident.

Who Would be Considered a Wrongful Death Case Victim in California?

For a claim to be lodged, the deceased must have been a direct or indirect victim of wrongdoing or carelessness. To win the lawsuit, you must show that the defendant was at least partly to blame for the victim’s death in a California wrongful death case..

For instance, if someone dies in a car accident caused by an intoxicated driver, their family may file a suit against the at-fault motorist. A claim may be filed if an individual is killed while utilizing a defective product. Wrongful demise claims have been filed due to medical negligence, like surgical and pharmaceutical errors or wrongful acts.

How to Make a Claim

In a wrongful bereavement case, the plaintiff need not be related to the deceased person in any way for that person’s “damages sustained” to be reimbursed. These monetary losses can fall anywhere on a broad scale. Economic, punitive, and non-economic damages are the three “types of damages” in a wrongful demise lawsuit.

We are here to offer sound legal advice during such a difficult time and will fight for you in ensuring you get the financial compensation you deserve from the responsible party.

Categories of Wrongful Death Cases

The term refers to any circumstance in which a person’s death directly resulted from another person’s carelessness or malice. Listed below are some typical applications of this phrase according to the California Wrongful Death Statute.

Intentional

If someone’s death resulted from a purposeful act, like murder or an assault, or violence, their family might file a wrongful demise suit against the perpetrator in a criminal case.

Negligence

Defendants who cause harm through negligence could also be sued for death. To prove negligence in a court of law, the plaintiff must provide evidence that the defendant did not exercise the degree of care a reasonably prudent person would have under similar circumstances. Negligence-related causes of death that have resulted in such a claim include:

  • Litigation Involving Automobile Crashes
  • Defective products
  • Ignoring warning signs
  • Cases involving falls due to slipping
  • Assaults by animals, especially dogs
  • Mishaps on the Job

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Damages

In a suit, monetary damages are the primary compensation sought by the plaintiff’s family. Losing services, assistance, medical costs, burial costs, and inheritance potential all fall under this category of damages.In wrongful bereavement litigation, the amount and type of damages that the court can award are specified by negligence statutes, which the courts in most states uphold. In cases, awards are typically determined by state laws and are intended to compensate for monetary losses that have arisen as a direct consequence of the decedent’s passing.

A beneficiary of a decedent’s estate has the right to recoup any funeral or medical costs for which they were responsible or compensated. Interest expenses beginning with the decedent’s death could also be included in a damage award.

Common Causes and Statistics of Wrongful Deaths in California

  1. Motor Vehicle Accidents
    Causes:

Distracted driving, such as texting or making calls.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Reckless driving, including speeding or aggressive behaviors.
Poor road conditions or inadequate signage.
Statistics:

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, in recent years, over 3,500 people died annually in California due to traffic collisions.
Distracted driving and DUI remain leading causes, accounting for a significant portion of these fatalities.

  1. Medical Malpractice
    Causes:

Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.
Surgical errors.
Prescription medication errors.
Anesthesia mistakes.
Statistics:

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) ranks medical negligence as the third leading cause of death in the U.S., following heart disease and cancer.
In California, between 2010 and 2018, there were over 2,000 medical malpractice payouts annually, many related to wrongful death claims.

  1. Workplace Accidents
    Causes:

Machinery malfunctions.
Falls from heights.
Lack of safety equipment or training.
Exposure to harmful chemicals.
Statistics:

The California Department of Industrial Relations reports that there were 451 workplace fatalities in a recent year, with transportation incidents being the leading cause, followed by slips, trips, and falls.

  1. Pedestrian Accidents
    Causes:

Distracted driving or walking.
Speeding.
Failing to yield the right of way at crosswalks.
Impaired driving.
Statistics:

In 2019, California witnessed 893 pedestrian fatalities due to traffic accidents, making it one of the states with the highest pedestrian death rates.

  1. Product Liability
    Causes:

Defective manufacturing.
Inadequate safety warnings.
Design flaws.
Statistics:

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that consumer products are linked to an estimated 8.5 million injuries and over 3,000 deaths annually nationwide. While state-specific statistics for California aren’t readily isolated, the state’s sizable population suggests a proportionally significant share of these incidents.

  1. Violent Crimes
    Causes:

Assaults or physical altercations.
Robberies or burglaries.
Domestic violence incidents.
Statistics:

According to the California Department of Justice, there were 1,679 reported cases of criminal homicides in the state in 2019.

The death of a loved one is always tragic, and when it’s the result of someone else’s negligence or misconduct, the grief is compounded by feelings of injustice. California, with its vast population and extensive road network, faces challenges in many areas that lead to wrongful deaths, from traffic accidents to workplace incidents. The presented statistics underline the urgency of addressing these issues through stringent safety regulations, public awareness campaigns, and legal frameworks that hold wrongdoers accountable.

How Challenging is it to Prove a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In a wrongful death case, proving fault could be a difficult task. Your attorney for wrongful needs to collect evidence to back up your claim. This could necessitate hiring high-priced experts whose time may be worth hundreds of dollars. Your attorney will front the money for these expenses and charge you for them out of whatever settlement they win for you.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to prove liability in wrongful death cases:

  1. Establish Duty of Care
    The first step is to demonstrate that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased. This duty varies depending on the relationship and the circumstances.

Example: A driver has a duty to operate their vehicle safely to avoid harming others on the road. Similarly, a doctor owes a duty of care to their patients to provide competent medical treatment.

  1. Prove a Breach of Duty
    Once the duty of care is established, the next step is to prove that the defendant breached this duty. This breach can be an action or a failure to act.

Example: If a driver was speeding or driving under the influence, they breached their duty to drive safely. If a doctor failed to diagnose a treatable condition that any reasonably competent doctor would have recognized, they breached their duty to the patient.

  1. Show Causation
    It’s not enough to prove that the defendant breached their duty; you must also demonstrate that this breach directly caused the death in question.

Direct Causation: The breach of duty directly led to the death.

Proximate Causation: The death was a foreseeable result of the breach, even if other intervening events played a role.

  1. Present Evidence of Damages
    While the death itself is the most significant damage, quantifiable losses must also be shown to determine compensation. This can include:

Funeral and burial costs.
Lost income, including future earnings the deceased would have provided.
Medical bills related to the deceased’s final illness or injury.
Loss of consortium, companionship, or parental guidance.
Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before death.

  1. Gather and Present Evidence
    Solid evidence is crucial in proving liability. Depending on the nature of the wrongful death, this can include:

Witness Testimonies: Eyewitnesses can provide first-hand accounts of the incident or the defendant’s negligence.

Expert Testimonies: Professionals can offer opinions on specialized topics, such as how a medical procedure was mishandled or the dynamics of a car crash.

Medical Records: These can show the cause of death and how it relates to the defendant’s actions.

Police Reports: For cases involving crimes or car accidents, police reports provide an unbiased account of what occurred.

Photos and Videos: Visual evidence from the scene can establish facts or show the aftermath of the incident.

Physical Evidence: This can range from damaged property to medical devices, depending on the case.

  1. Overcome Defenses
    The defendant might argue defenses to escape or reduce liability. Common defenses include:

Comparative or Contributory Negligence: The defendant may argue that the deceased also played a role in their own death.

Statute of Limitations: The defendant might claim that too much time has passed since the death to bring a claim.

Assumption of Risk: In cases where the deceased was engaged in a potentially dangerous activity, the defendant might argue that they knowingly took on the risk.

Proving liability in a wrongful death case is a complex process requiring a combination of legal expertise, thorough investigation, and compelling evidence. It’s always recommended to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney who can guide the process and ensure the best possible outcome for the grieving family.

How Wrongful Death Settlements are Paid Out

Your attorney will receive a cheque for the compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company when the wrongful death litigation is resolved. After deducting their charges and other litigation costs, your lawyer will distribute the remaining funds to the decedent’s heirs per the proposed settlement. They could potentially hand the money over to whoever is handling the estate.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California

Before submitting a death claim, a lawyer must determine who is legally allowed to do so under the relevant state’s laws. A spouse, children, siblings, parents, or other relatives of the deceased may file a death claim in some states but not in others.

However, in some jurisdictions, the deceased’s representative or executor must file a wrongful death case. Naturally, the laws and regulations of each state prove to be significant in this regard.The statute of limitations for filing a death claim is another factor that legal counsel must consider.

This is just one example:

  • The period to file a lawsuit for wrongful demise in California is two years.
  • The statute of limitations in Montana is three years.
  • Florida’s limitation period begins counting down two years after death.
  •  List

In certain places, the clock starts ticking on a claim the day someone dies, whereas, in others, it starts when the damage is discovered. An action for wrongful death may be time-barred if the statute of limitations has expired, as specified by the laws of your state.

The next step in initiating a wrongful death lawsuit is for an attorney to file the necessary paperwork. The initial formal document filed in a civil lawsuit is typically referred to as a “complaint” or “petition.” The defendant has a right to know the facts and legal basis of the action, which should be laid out in the complaint or petition.A wrongful death lawyer will also serve the defendant with a summons, a legal document that serves as notice that he is being sued and specifies where the case will be heard.

At the end of the legal process, when the attorney for the wrongful demise files the action, all defendants should be provided copies of all supporting paperwork. Again, every state must enact its own rules for the proper ways to deliver such details.The primary responsibility of any wrongful demise attorney is to establish liability in the client’s case. Except if the defendant undertakes an intentional act, the onus of proof rests on the wrongful death attorney to show negligence on the defendant’s part.

This work has its unique components, but negligence is at its core. In that order, the breach of duty, causation, and damages are necessary to establish negligence. When we talk about responsibility, we’re usually referring to the obligation to prevent harm from another individual or to intervene when doing either would be counterproductive.

To win a claim for breach of duty, a plaintiff must show that their version of the events is more likely than not to be accurate. A plaintiff has the burden of proving that the defendant’s breach of duty was the direct cause of the decedent’s damages.

When filing a lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that a duty was breached and that it was the cause of the deceased person’s injuries. A lawyer specializing in wrongful death cases can aid in these investigations.

The plaintiffs in the “vehicle accident” wrongful termination lawsuit alleging that the defendant, Anthony, was irresponsible behind the wheel and caused Mary’s death. Mary’s loved ones who are still here may argue that Anthony was responsible for ensuring Mary was competent behind the wheel.

The procedure above may be complicated to follow, and the initial papers served are only the beginning. Court cases can sometimes go on for decades. They could involve nuances and subtleties that might be difficult for someone who is not a lawyer to navigate.You may want to hire a wrongful death lawyer to help you navigate the legal process.

Contact Avian Law Group

Contact Avian Law Group if you are interested in qualified and experienced California lawyers on a wrongful demise case. Our attorneys will be your personal representative in filing an action according to California law. We offer a free consultation to discuss your legal avenues for getting compensation from the individual or parties responsible for the loss of your loved one.

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