There is nothing that can match the emotional trauma, pain, and grief of losing a loved one, especially when it happens due to someone else’s negligence. It is tough for the surviving family members to deal with the unexpected death. While it’s not possible to replace a loved one but surviving family members do not have to live with the financial consequences of losing a loved one due to the wrongful act of a third party. They have the legal right to file a wrongful death claim and receive fair compensation.
These claims are complex and you need a skilled Twentynine Palms wrongful death lawyer on your side to recover the compensation you deserve. Here at Crockett Law Group, our personal injury attorneys have helped many family members receive fair compensation in wrongful death cases.
How Is Wrongful Death Defined in the State of California?
In the state of California, wrongful death is defined in the Code of Civil Procedure section 377.60. In simple terms, wrongful death is defined as one that is caused by the recklessness or wrongful act of another person or entity.
California law defines wrongful death broadly and this is why almost any death caused due to reckless or negligent action of another individual or entity could form the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit. It might involve cases such as motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, car accidents, bike accidents, slip and fall accidents, dog bites, and medical malpractice, among others.
Who Is Qualified to File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
Not everyone is eligible to file a wrongful death claim in California. In most cases, people who are related to the deceased by blood, marriage, or adoption are allowed though there are also exceptions to this general rule. Here is what California law states regarding the eligibility to file a wrongful death claim in California:
- Surviving domestic partner or spouse
- Surviving children
- Grandchildren of the deceased child of the decedent
In case the decedent does not have any surviving family member in their line of descent, the law allows anyone entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. It may include the parents of the decedent or siblings of the decedent.
In addition to the above, people who can prove their financial dependence on the deceased can also bring a wrongful death lawsuit. These may include:
- Putative spouse and their children
- Deceased’s stepchildren
- Parents of the deceased
- Decedent’s legal guardians in case parents are not alive
What Types of Damages Are Recoverable?
Recoverable damages in a wrongful death claim in California might be grouped into 2 categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
This category includes damages that are subjective in nature and are relatively easy to calculate. It may include the financial support that the decedent would have contributed to the family during their expected life expectancy.
It also includes the loss of benefits or gifts that the plaintiff(s) would have expected to receive from the decedent. This category also includes funeral and burial expenses as well as a reasonable value of household services that would have been provided by the deceased.
The award of future economic damages is reduced to their present cash value.
This category includes compensation for damages that are intangible in nature. It typically includes loss of comfort, care, affection, protection, assistance, moral support, society, companionship, and love as well as compensation for loss of training and guidance.
California law does not provide compensation for pain and suffering as well as the plaintiff’s sorrow, grief, or mental anguish.
Can Surviving Family File for Punitive Damages?
Surviving family members are not allowed to file for punitive damages in a wrongful death case. However, California law does allow for punitive damages in a survival action case. The California Code of Civil Procedure section 377.30 authorizes survival action.
The designated representative of the decedent’s estate has the right to bring a survival action claim to seek compensation for losses caused due to the negligence of the defendant. Law allows an individual to bring both a survival action claim as well as a wrongful death claim. In short, you are allowed to be a claimant in both cases even though both cases are distinct.
How is Negligence Proved in a Wrongful Death Case?
In a wrongful death case, it needs to be proven that the death occurred due to the wrongful action or neglect of another party. There is no need to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. However, there has to be at least a 51% possibility that the death was wrongful.
There are 4 legal elements of negligence that need to be proven in such cases:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the victims.
- The defendant breached that duty of care.
- The defendant’s breach of duty of care led to the accident causing the death of the decedent.
- The plaintiff(s) suffered losses due to the death of the decedent.
How Do You Start a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
The most important thing you need to know is that there is a time limit to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state of California. The statute of limitations applies in such cases and it is important to file the claim within 2 years from the date of death.
As explained above, a wrongful death claim is often coupled with a survival cause of action. All these terms can get complicated and this is why you should get in touch with an experienced Crockett Twentynine Palms wrongful death lawyer to know more about the legalities involved in a wrongful death claim.
Give us a call today at (800) 900-9393 to schedule a free consultation.
What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and Estate Claim?
As explained above, a wrongful death claim and an estate claim or survival action are two separate things. The wrongful death claim allows the beneficiaries or survivors of the decedent’s estate to receive compensatory damages for their own losses.
On the other hand, an estate claim or a survival action allows the personal representative of the decedent to recover financial compensation for the damages suffered by the decedent before dying. It may include any punitive or exemplary damages that might have been awarded to the decedent in case the decedent had lived.
Contact Our Twentynine Palms Wrongful Death Lawyers
While no amount of money can bring back a loved one but it is your legal right to recover damages for the wrongful death of your loved one caused by the negligent actions of another person or entity. A wrongful death claim can be extremely complicated as a lot of things need to be proven in order to recover damages.
Here at Crockett Law Group, our team of experienced Twentynine Palms wrongful death lawyers has helped many clients win millions in damages. We will help you get a better understanding of your case and help you learn what damages can be compensated and how to protect your rights.
Give us a call today at (800) 900-9393 to schedule a completely free consultation today.