Many families in California have to cope with the pain of losing their loved ones while they face financial burdens that accompany wrongful death incidents. The grief, emotional trauma, and pain of losing someone you care about can be overwhelming. A Fullerton wrongful death lawyer can help you recover a fair settlement if you’ve lost a family member due to the reckless actions of another party.
Families facing wrongful deaths can suffer significant immediate and future financial losses. These losses may include medical expenses, loss of future earnings, and burial costs. The pain that surviving loved ones endure is incalculable.
An experienced Fullerton wrongful death lawyer can explain your rights and help you throughout the claims process. They can ensure the person responsible for your family member’s death is held accountable for their actions.
How is Wrongful Death Defined in the State of California?
Wrongful death is a tort claim that enables surviving family members to seek compensation for the death of their loved one. If any wrongdoing is to blame for the death of your loved one, the at-fault party responsible for the tort will be liable for damages.
In the state of California, wrongful death is defined as the death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another person(s). A wrongful death claim can reimburse surviving family members for expenses related to the death of their loved one.
Wrongful death claims aren’t murder or homicide trials. In fact, they aren’t considered criminal cases. Wrongful death claims are typically brought to civil courts in California. They are treated as civil matters rather than criminal ones.
You can file a wrongful death claim whether the defendant committed a crime or not. For intentional misconduct, such as homicide, surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim in Fullerton, CA, while the defendant’s criminal trial is ongoing. You may also file a claim for an unintentional tort, such as accidental negligence. A skilled Fullerton wrongful death lawyer can help you to figure out if you have a case.
Auto accidents, medical malpractice, drowning, child abuse, elder abuse, defective products, and premise liability are various grounds for wrongful death claims. If your loved one commits suicide after suffering psychological trauma due to the defendant’s actions or omissions, you may file a wrongful death lawsuit if their negligence led to your loved one’s suicide.
Who is Qualified to File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
In California, not everyone can file a wrongful death claim. If you aren’t sure if you can file a claim, you should speak to a Fullerton wrongful death attorney. A lawyer can determine if you are qualified to file a claim against the at-fault party.
California law restricts who has the legal right to file a claim after a wrongful death incident. If you aren’t a qualified party, you may not have the opportunity to seek damages on behalf of a loved one. Only certain surviving family members and relatives may file a wrongful death claim under the California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60. They include:
- Surviving spouse
- Surviving children
- Anyone entitled to property under intestate successions, such as parents and siblings
Still, the putative spouse of the deceased may file a wrongful death claim. This is an individual who wasn’t married to the decedent, but who believed they were lawfully married. The children of the putative spouse may also file a wrongful death claim in Fullerton, CA.
Additionally, any minor who lived in the decedent’s house for the last 180 days may file a claim if they relied on them for at least 50% of their financial aid.
What Types of Damages are Recoverable?
The goal of wrongful death claims is to offer compensation and justice to surviving family members. Compensation for past, present, and future losses helps to lessen the financial, emotional, and mental burden of losing a loved one. According to the CACI No. 3921 Wrongful Death (Death of an Adult), survivors may recover economic and non-economic damages after the death of a loved one.
Also known as monetary damages, economic damages are financial losses suffered by survivors after the death of their loved one. They are easily calculable since they are contained in bills and receipts. Economic damages include:
- Lost financial support
- Burial expenses
- Lost gifts
- Household services
These compensatory damages are intangible losses that survivors endure after a wrongful death incident. They are highly subjective and much harder to compute. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, trauma, loss of sexual relations, loss of advice, and loss of love.
According to the Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI), judges and juries should use their common sense to award reasonable amounts for non-economic damages — based on available evidence.
Can The Surviving Family File For Punitive Damages?
In a Fullerton wrongful death claim, punitive damages may be awarded if the defendant’s reckless actions led to the deceased’s death. These damages are meant to punish the defendant for their recklessness and deter them from committing similar actions in the future. Survivors could pursue punitive damages in California if a homicide led to the death of their loved one for which the defendant has been convicted.
Survival action after a wrongful death may also warrant punitive damages. A Fullerton wrongful death lawyer can file a survival action claim on behalf of the decedent’s estate.
How is Negligence Proven in a Wrongful Death Case?
In a wrongful death claim, the burden of proving fault rests on the plaintiff. For this reason, you need the help of an experienced wrongful death lawyer near Fullerton to prove the elements in your case. An element is the fundamental building block of any wrongful death claim.
For you to succeed in a case, you must establish and prove all the required elements. Here are the elements you must prove in a claim:
Duty of Care Owed
The first element you have to prove in a wrongful death claim is that the accused owed your loved one a duty to exercise reasonable care. These responsibilities depend on the relationship between the victim and the defendant. For instance, a driver owes road users the duty to exercise reasonable care while driving on Fullerton roads. They must obey all traffic rules while driving on the road.
Similarly, advice from a friend regarding an illness doesn’t hold the same weight as that of a licensed physician or medical professional. It is the legal obligation of a medical professional to offer you the best medical advice during consultations and treatment.
Duty of Care Breached or Violated
A knowledgeable Fullerton wrongful death lawyer should also prove that the defendant breached their duty of care. A breach refers to any action or omission that violates their legal responsibility to offer reasonable care. An attorney should prove that another person wouldn’t have acted in the same manner, making the defendant guilty of breaching their duty.
For example, any reasonable person wouldn’t drive in Fullerton while drunk. Drunk driving is illegal and amounts to a breach of a driver’s duty to exercise care while on the road.
Accident or Injury Caused
The misconduct or carelessness of the defendant should be the cause of your loved one’s death for this element to stand. Your attorney must prove that their death wouldn’t have occurred if the defendant hadn’t violated their duty of care.
For example, if a doctor hadn’t misdiagnosed lung cancer as asthma, your loved one may have received proper treatment for their condition. This may have prevented the condition from worsening, which led to their early demise.
The last element to prove in a wrongful death claim is that you suffered losses brought about by the death of your loved one. These damages may include the loss of your loved one’s affection, financial support, emotional support, medical expenses, and funeral costs.
A Fullerton wrongful death attorney can help you understand the actual value of your claim. They can carefully calculate the worth of the damages you are entitled to, ensuring you push for the full value of your wrongful death claim.
How Do You Start a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
The litigation process in a wrongful death lawsuit can be time-consuming and stressful. It may involve many different rules and procedures. With the help of a reputable personal injury law firm and experienced Fullerton wrongful death lawyers, you may recover compensation and get the justice you deserve for the death of your loved one.
Here’s how to start a wrongful death claim in Fullerton, CA:
Contact a Fullerton Wrongful Death Lawyer
To prove the elements of a wrongful death claim, you need the help of an experienced Fullerton wrongful death lawyer. A lawyer who specializes in wrongful death claims can look into the facts of your case and help you hold the defendant accountable for their negligence.
At Crockett Law Group, our legal team is a call away. We can help you with all the legal aspects of your claim. It is advisable to get in touch with a law firm in Fullerton soon after the death of your loved one. This ensures relevant evidence isn’t lost.
Determine Whether You Have a Valid Claim
When your loved one dies, you may have a valid wrongful death claim. However, not every death warrants a claim. In fact, most deaths don’t happen due to the actions or omissions of others. A skilled Fullerton wrongful death lawyer can look into your case and advise you if you have a valid case. They can also inform you if you are qualified to file a wrongful death claim in Fullerton, CA.
To win a wrongful death claim, your lawyer must gather and analyze evidence pertaining to your case. At Crockett Law Group, our Fullerton wrongful death lawyers will gather evidence using different methods, including depositions, document requests, and investigators. We will analyze medical records, police reports, autopsy reports, witness statements, photographic evidence, and employment records to build a strong wrongful death claim.
Filing The Lawsuit
In California, you have two years from the date of death of your loved one to file a wrongful death claim. With a Fullerton wrongful death lawyer by your side, you don’t have to worry about filing your claim. Crockett Law Group will handle this process as you deal with the loss of your loved one. Our Fullerton wrongful death lawyers will make sure we file your claim on time to ensure the court system does not bar you from seeking the compensation you deserve.
What is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and an Estate Claim?
When someone in California dies due to recklessness, negligence, or an intentional wrongful act, there are two types of claims that can be brought against the defendant: a wrongful death claim and an estate claim.
The aim of a wrongful death claim is to compensate survivors for their losses after the death of their loved one. On the other hand, an estate claim compensates the estate for losses suffered by the deceased before their demise. Estate claims don’t compensate surviving family members for their losses. They allow the decedent’s estate to sue for losses the decedent sustained before their death.
Wrongful death claims in California are brought by close family members while estate claims are brought by the estate’s personal representative. When filing a wrongful death claim, punitive damages aren’t recoverable. However, in an estate claim, punitive damages are recoverable.
In an estate claim, one may recover damages like medical bills, lost wages, and personal property damage. The deceased may have sustained such damages after the wrongful act, such as drunk driving, but before their death.
Book Your Free Case Review With a Fullerton Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Losing a loved one due to another person’s negligence really hurts. During such times, you should hire a competent lawyer to help with the claims process. An experienced Fullerton wrongful death lawyer can help you recover damages after the death of your loved one.
At Crockett Law Group, our legal team can help you shed light on the recklessness that led to the wrongful death of your loved one. We are ready to analyze all pieces of relevant evidence to build an airtight case. Our attorneys won’t rest until we get to the bottom of your case.
If you experienced the unexpected death of your loved one, get in touch with us to book your free case review. Our lawyers are ready to answer any questions that you may have. Get started before it’s too late to file your claim.