Anybody who has lost a loved one in a tragic way knows how difficult it can be. It’s one thing to grieve. If your parent or sibling passes away from cancer, it will break your heart. However, you won’t necessarily be angry at anyone. If, on the other hand, they were killed because of a drunk driver, you will feel an incredible amount of rage.
Our Palm Springs wrongful death attorneys meet with clients every week who have just lost a loved one. While they may not know who they can sue or how to do it, they do know one thing. They want the drunk driver to pay. They also want anyone who could’ve stopped the drunk driver from getting behind the wheel held accountable as well.
When it comes time for your Palm Springs wrongful death attorney to file your complaint, you’re going to need to decide who to name in your lawsuit. If your loved one was killed in a drunk driving accident, you would obviously want to sue the other driver as well as their insurance carrier.
However, there may be other parties you can sue. Unfortunately, the laws regarding vicarious liability in California are a lot stricter than in most other states. Here, we will discuss this fact. We will also explain who you can sue and who may be immune from liability.
Your Palm Springs Wrongful Death Attorney Can Sue the Drunk Driver and Their Insurance Carrier
The two obvious parties to be named in your wrongful death lawsuit will be the drunk driver and their insurance company. The driver is the person who committed the act that directly led to your loved one’s death. Just as with any other motor vehicle accident, your injury lawyer in Palm Springs will also name the insurance company.
When you file your initial complaint, make sure you don’t forget to add the insurance carrier. Plus, the odds of the drunk driver having enough assets to cover your family’s damages are low. You want to pursue the party with the deepest pockets, and that’s the insurance company.
Unfortunately, Your Injury Lawyer in Palm Springs Cannot Sue the Bar Owner or Liquor Store Owner
In most states, your Palm Springs wrongful death attorney would also be able to name the person who provided the driver with alcohol. For example, if the defendant had left a bar prior to killing your loved one, you would name the bar owner in your lawsuit. The same is true if the person had an open container.
You could go after the liquor store owner. Finally, if the other driver had left a private party, you could normally sue the host. Unfortunately, the laws in California specifically prevent you from doing this. The dramshop laws in California are governed by Civil Code 1714.
This statute states that the person who provided a drunk driver with alcohol cannot be named in any legal action filed. This means that your injury lawyer in Palm Springs will not be able to sue the bar, restaurant, or other entity that contributed to your loved one’s death.
The Only Exception to the Dramshop Laws in California is if the Other Driver Was Under the Age of 21
The laws in California generally prohibit a plaintiff from naming a bar or liquor store owner in their wrongful death lawsuits. The only exception to this rule is if the other driver was under the age of 21 at the time of the accident. If the defendant was 20 years old or younger when the accident took place, you can name the person or store that provided them with alcohol. This is because it’s against the law to do so.
Your Palm Springs Wrongful Death Attorney Must Also Be Careful About Who Files Suit
In most personal injury lawsuits, more than one person can sue. For example, if you and your spouse were both injured in a motor vehicle accident, you could sue the defendant together. The same is true if you were injured as a result of negligent security at a hotel.
However, when it comes to wrongful death cases, only one plaintiff can file the complaint. When you first meet with your Palm Springs wrongful death attorney, they will help figure out who should be the named plaintiff.
Ideally, it will be the person with the closest relationship to the deceased. Typically, this is the surviving spouse. Of course, everyone’s situation is different. There may not be close family. You may be the personal representative of the victim’s estate. Don’t worry too much about this now. Wait until you’re sitting down with your injury lawyer in Palm Springs, California.
It’s In Your Best Interest to Meet with a Seasoned Injury Lawyer in Palm Springs, California
If you aren’t sure whether you have a valid claim for wrongful death, you’re not alone. A lot of people feel this way. It’s hard enough to deal with the loss of a loved one. When their death was the result of an accident or some other tragedy, it makes it doubly hard. All you and your family want to do is grieve. Yet, you know that you can’t wait forever to decide if you want to hire a Palm Springs wrongful death attorney.
The good news is that it doesn’t cost a thing to meet with one of our injury lawyers in Palm Springs. We offer all new clients a free, initial consultation. This gives you the chance to sit down with an experienced Palm Springs wrongful death attorney and ask them whatever questions have been plaguing you.
Some of these questions may include:
- Who has the right to sue for wrongful death? Is it something any family member can do?
- Who are you supposed to name in your wrongful death lawsuit?
- How long do you have to file?
- What kind of evidence would your injury lawyer in Palm Springs need to prove fault?
- What kind of damages can you expect to receive if you win your lawsuit?
These are all normal questions. Most of our clients ask us the same thing. When you meet with your Palm Springs wrongful death attorney, they will answer as many of your questions as possible. Once you have both gotten a chance to discuss your concerns, your attorney will let you know if your case is worth pursuing.