The emotional toll of losing a close family member is immense — particularly when someone else’s recklessness caused their death. If you’ve lost a family member and someone else is to blame, filing a wrongful death claim could be a valid legal option.
A wrongful death lawsuit will not ease the pain of your family member’s death, but it can hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. Furthermore, a wrongful death claim can compensate you for funeral expenses, lost financial support, emotional distress, and other losses related to your family member’s passing.
Winning a wrongful death case requires families to meet specific legal criteria. Keep reading to learn more about the main elements of a wrongful death claim in California.
The Key Elements of a California Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In most cases, only a deceased’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, or beneficiaries of their estate can file wrongful death claims. Others who can demonstrate they were financially dependent on the deceased can file a claim in limited circumstances.
Eligible claimants must prove two main points. First, you’ll have to prove that the deceased died a wrongful death. California law defines a wrongful death as one caused by a person or other entity’s reckless, intentional, or negligent acts. The liable party’s conduct doesn’t need to be criminal to be considered negligent. However, a criminal conviction could be used as evidence of negligence.
Next, you’ll have to show that you sustained financial or other losses due to the death. This includes loss of love, affection ,companionship, support and the emotional harm you have endured as a result of the death of the decedent . A California wrongful death lawyer can help you collect the evidence needed to satisfy both requirements.
Differences Between Damages in a Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Action
A wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury claim. But unlike other personal injury cases, it seeks compensation for the losses suffered by the victim’s family rather than the victim. This distinction means there are slight differences between the compensation available in a personal injury claim vs. a wrongful death action.
Wrongful death compensation is more limited than the money you can seek in a typical personal injury case. Examples of potential compensation include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of consortium, sexual relations, and affection
- Loss of services to the household
- Loss of guidance, emotional support, and companionship
- The future income the deceased would have earned had they not died a wrongful death
Another way the deceased’s family could recover additional compensation is through a survival action. This is a personal injury claim brought by a personal representative of the deceased’s estate. Essentially, a survival action is the personal injury claim that the decedent could have filed if they survived. Compensation may include money for medical bills, conscious pain and suffering, lost wages, and property damage.
How to Prove Liability in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
To prove wrongful death in California, you’ll need evidence of the liable party’s negligence. Examples of evidence include:
- Police accident reports
- Medical records
- Photos or video from the accident scene
- Eyewitness or expert testimony
- Grief counseling and Financial support records.
How a California Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help Me
The prospect of filing a wrongful death claim can be daunting for grieving families. A California wrongful death lawyer can handle the complicated legal aspects of your case so that you have time and space to grieve. Hiring a lawyer also gives you the best chance of recovering maximum compensation for your loss.
If you’re coping with the loss of a beloved family member due to another’s negligence, a compassionate wrongful death lawyer from the Law Offices of Pius Joseph can help. Call or contact us today for a free case review.