Wrongful death is one caused by the negligence or recklessness of another individual. For instance, not looking out for others while at work or in public has been linked to many wrongful death claims. When your loved one loses their life due to another’s misconduct or reckless actions, this is a wrongful death. With a good Palm Springs wrongful death lawyer, you can get the justice and compensation you deserve on behalf of your loved one.
A skilled lawyer is required for these cases as they tend to be very complicated. For instance, proving that the individual in question was negligent and did not focus on their duty can be very difficult. There are many facts to be analyzed, and getting through the case can be a long, difficult battle. However, an attorney at the Crockett Law Group will ensure that all the points are presented in court. Contact us today for a free consultation with a Palm Springs personal injury lawyer.
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How is Wrongful Death Defined in the State of California?
A wrongful death claim can be made in California when someone loses their life due to another entity or individual’s legal fault. The reasons include:
- Incidents that are based on negligence. For instance, car accidents caused by negligence.
- Medical malpractice. A doctor who does not follow proper standards of care when treating a patient recklessly can be charged in court when there is enough evidence. For instance, a doctor who carries out surgery while drunk can be sued for wrongful death.
- Intentional acts: When someone causes the loss of another person’s life during a crime, they can be sued for wrongful death.
- Engineering malpractice: a faulty construction can start developing structural problems and crash down on the victim. The engineer’s design could be linked to the accident, and a wrongful death lawsuit can be leveled against them.
- Defective products: dangerous consumer products such as drugs, devices, appliances, and electronics can cause wrongful death.
- Someone driving under the influence of illicit drugs or alcohol.
- Sanitation issues and contaminated food in commercial establishments.
- Improper alcohol services: A bartender that continues to serve drinks to someone visibly intoxicated can be sued after the patron’s death.
The liability of the defendant in wrongful death lawsuits is only expressed as financial compensation. The court decides that the defendant should pay damages to the survivors of the decedent. There is also a clear difference between a wrongful death lawsuit and intentional homicide cases.
Who is Qualified to File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
Based on California’s wrongful death statute, these are the people allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state’s civil courts:
- A domestic partner or a surviving spouse of the deceased person
- Remaining children of the decedent
- Grandchildren left behind by the deceased person
If there are no survivors in the decedent’s line of descent, the lawsuit can be presented to the court by anyone that would be entitled to their property. These include the parents and siblings of the deceased person. The people that are still alive at the time of the decedent’s death can also be allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit. People that were financially dependent on the deceased are also allowed to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in California. They include:
- The putative spouse of the decedent and their children
- Stepchildren of the decedent
- Legal guardians of the decedent
What Types of Damages are Recoverable?
Damages are the losses that are claimed in the wrongful death claim. There are two main types of damages:
They include all the financial support that would have been provided to family members by the decedent. The loss of benefits and gifts from the decedent is also considered an economic loss. Another loss is the funeral and burial expenses and the reasonable dollar value of services around the house that the deceased person would provide.
Loss of love, care, comfort, companionship, protection, affection, and moral support from the decedent. A loss of the enjoyment of intimacy by the spouse or partner. The loss of guidance from the decedent is also considered a non-economic loss and is damage that the wrongful death lawsuit can cover.
Can Surviving Family File for Punitive Damages?
The family generally can’t receive punitive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit in California, unless the death was a result of felony homicide. Punitive damages are meant to punish the at-fault party for wrongful actions. Families can claim punitive damages in survival action lawsuits.
How is Negligence Proved in a Wrongful Death Case?
Four elements of negligence need to be proved for the wrongful death case to proceed. These elements are used to prove that the defendant was not behaving as a reasonable person would have in similar circumstances. They include:
Duty of Care
The defendant is required to watch out for their partners and fellow citizens. For instance, stopping at road lights and letting the lane chosen by the traffic officer pass is considered a duty of care. Warning signs at a construction site is also considered to be a duty of care. The people that are passing will see the signs and maintain a safe distance from the construction site. Lack of such signs is a clear indication of negligence.
A doctor who does not follow proper procedures when conducting surgery will also lack the duty of care. It is not good to ignore the duty of care no matter where someone is working. It is the duty of care that keeps people safe in public and the glue that holds us all together.
Breach of Duty
In addition to showing that there was a duty of care that the defendant owed to the victim in the wrongful death case, it is also necessary to prove breach of duty. A breach of duty occurs when the defendant is proved to have acted in a manner that showed recklessness. For instance, not stopping at a traffic light and over-speeding can be considered a breach of care duty.
The plaintiff must prove how the death was a direct result of the defendant’s action. The defense might put up a fight by linking the death to some other causes, and having a lawyer who can argue this out in court is important.
The attorney will then prove that the breach of duty resulted in damages. Damages can include the loss of the deceased’s financial support and the loss of companionship. The damages must be stated out and explained in court for the wrongful death lawsuit to be successful.
How do You Start a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
By the statute of limitations, you must file your wrongful death claim within a certain period. Once this window is closed, you will not be able to file the claim, and observing the deadline is very important. In California, this window is two years after the death of the decedent. In case the claim is not started in the civil court system in two years, the family will lose the right to file it in the first place.
Contacting a lawyer during this window period is an important step to starting the wrongful death claim in California. The lawyer will provide the necessary advice that will guide your actions. All the required legal documentation will also be prepared on your behalf, and the involved parties contacted.
Preparing all the necessary evidence is important as the wrongful death claim will require many claims backed up by hard, irrefutable evidence. A good lawyer will work to ensure that all the necessary arrangements are made. The attorney will also handle settlement negotiations on your behalf, and you can help you obtain a better settlement.
You’ll want a lawyer to prepare your case since it is usually very difficult to establish the defendant’s negligence as the cause of the death. The defense will also try to fight by blaming the death on other causes, and a lawyer prepared to handle such arguments.
What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and Survival Action?
A wrongful death claim is brought by the deceased person’s family members, such as a spouse and children, and the purpose is to gain compensation for their loss. In contrast, a survival claim is brought by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. A survival claim can only be brought when the deceased person survived for some period of time after the accident before eventually succumbing to their injuries. Survival actions can include a claim for punitive damages.
Contact an Experienced Palm Springs Wrongful Death Lawyer
Getting the services of a wrongful death attorney is very important for these claims to be successful. The wrongful death lawyer will argue out your case in court, presenting every piece of evidence and breaking down all the facts tied to the event in which the deceased person lost their life. There is also a lot of legal documentation that needs to be prepared to be successful.
If you intend to file a wrongful death lawsuit due to your loved one’s loss, you must get the best legal services available. A good Palm Springs wrongful death lawyer will be your best assistance when seeking compensation for your loved one’s death. At the Crockett Law Group, we will fight to ensure all the losses and damages paid for. For a free consultation, contact us at (800) 900-9393 today.