There’s nothing more traumatizing than losing someone you care about unexpectedly. One moment you were having fun and spending time together, then before you know it, they are no more. Such times become more devastating if the loss of your loved one was because of the reckless actions of another party. A Victorville wrongful death lawyer can help you determine if you have a valid wrongful death claim in California.
In truth, no amount of money can bring back your loved one. Nonetheless, all individuals or entities responsible for the death of your loved one deserve to pay for their negligent actions or inactions. The Crockett Law Group is here to help you fight for justice for the wrongful death of your loved one.
Our Victorville personal injury firm is prepared to look into the facts of your case and discuss your legal options. Call us today at (800) 900-9393 to book your free case review. Get started now before it’s too late to file a wrongful death claim in Victorville, CA.
How Is Wrongful Death Defined in the State of California?
In California, wrongful death is defined as the “death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.” This implies that the death of an individual wasn’t due to natural causes but as a result of another person’s or entity’s legal fault.
As with all other personal injury claims in Victorville, CA, the surviving members of the defendant’s family have the right to seek financial compensation — damages — for the loss of their loved one. Survivors within California can file a wrongful death claim if the defendant’s negligence, gross negligence, maliciousness, or recklessness led to the death of their loved one.
Wrongful deaths are preventable deaths that may include:
Any road user can die in an auto accident due to the reckless actions of another road user. Your loved one may be hit by a DUI driver while walking on the side of the road. In such a case, a Victorville wrongful death lawyer can prove that the drunk driver’s gross negligence led to your loved one’s demise.
The actions or inactions of healthcare providers may determine whether your loved one recovers from their illness or not. If a physician doesn’t offer acceptable standards of care, you may be eligible to file a Victorville wrongful death claim.
If your loved one passes on as a result of intentional acts like a crime, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim to recover damages. The loss of your loved one due to assault and battery or murder and manslaughter are grounds for a personal injury claim in Victorville, CA.
The negligent actions or omissions of an individual who owes your loved one a duty of care may cause psychological trauma, leading to suicide. As surviving family members, you may file a lawsuit against the at-fault party if their actions led to your loved one taking their own life.
Wrongful deaths in Victorville, California, may also be due to child abuse or neglect, drowning, slip and fall accidents, elder abuse or neglect, defective products, fatal burns, hazards on commercial and residential properties, Covid-19 nursing home deaths, animal attacks, and workplace accidents. An experienced wrongful death lawyer in Victorville can help you prove that someone else’s negligence led to your loved one succumbing to their injuries.
Who Is Qualified to File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
In most wrongful death cases, close family members can bring wrongful death claims. However, it is advisable to review your case with a knowledgeable Victorville wrongful death attorney to find out if you are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California. A lawyer can evaluate your relationship with the deceased to determine whether you are qualified to file a legal claim.
According to the California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60, a wrongful death claim in Victorville can be filed by the decedent’s:
- Surviving spouse
- Domestic partner
If no one is in the deceased’s line of descent, a claim may be filed by any person “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession.” This may include their parents or siblings — depending on who is alive at the time of the demise of their loved one.
Additionally, the deceased’s “putative spouse,” the children of the putative spouse, the deceased’s stepchildren, and the legal guardians of the deceased may be entitled to file wrongful death claims. A putative spouse is an individual who wasn’t legally married to the decedent but who, in good faith, believed they were lawfully married.
Any minor who resided in the deceased’s home for the last 180 days and depended on them for at least 50% of their financial assistance may also file a wrongful death claim in Victorville, California.
What Types of Damages Are Recoverable?
After the death of a loved one, surviving members may be entitled to financial compensation. Often referred to as damages, this settlement is meant to compensate heirs for the losses they’ve suffered due to the death of their loved one. Surviving family members typically receive reasonable compensation in relation to what they’d expect to receive if the deceased was still alive.
The Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) provides guidance on the types of damages available to surviving family members in California. CACI No. 3921 Wrongful Death (Death of an Adult) states that the damages available for wrongful death claims fall into two categories: economic and non-economic damages.
These are damages that cover financial losses that are verifiable through bills, receipts, and other financial documents. When determining these damages, the court may consider factors such as increases in wages as the years go by and inflation. Your Victorville wrongful death lawyer will use all available resources to determine the value of your economic damages. We are prepared to speak to financial, medical, and occupational experts to arrive at accurate calculations.
Economic damages may include:
- Lost financial support
- Lost gifts or benefits
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Household services
These are intangible damages that are awarded to surviving family members after the demise of their loved one. According to CACI No. 3921, surviving family members may be entitled to the following damages:
- Loss of comfort, love, companionship, assistance, protection, care, affection, and moral support
- Loss of training and guidance
- Loss of sexual relations
There is no fixed standard when it comes to non-economic damages. CACI requires judges and juries to award reasonable amounts for non-economic damages based on presented evidence. It also urges these parties to use their common sense when awarding these damages in California.
Interestingly, the plaintiff’s grief, sorrow, poverty or wealth, pain and suffering, and mental anguish aren’t considered when determining non-economic damages.
Can the Surviving Family File for Punitive Damages?
Surviving family members can’t generally file for punitive damages during a wrongful death claim. However, Civ. Code, § 3294(d). allows for an exception if the death of your loved one resulted from a homicide for which the defendant has been convicted of a felony.
Punitive damages may also be awarded in a California wrongful death lawsuit through survival action. Survival claims in Victorville, CA, are usually filed on behalf of the deceased’s estate.
Wrongful death claims and survival claims may at times be filed simultaneously. It is best to hire an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Victorville like Kevin Crockett to help you navigate this complex area of state and federal law.
How Is Negligence Proved in a Wrongful Death Case?
Everyone expects their loved one to live happily and die a peaceful death. However, the negligent acts or omissions of other parties may lead to the death of your loved one. When you lose your loved one due to the recklessness of another person, you must prove their negligence to recover financial compensation.
As a plaintiff, you just prove these four elements to have a valid wrongful death claim.
Duty of Care
The defendant should have had a duty of care to your loved one. This implies that they were responsible for the safety and wellbeing of your loved one. For instance, a driver has a duty to obey all traffic rules while on the road.
Breach of Duty
You must then prove that the defendant’s actions or inactions breached their duty of care. For instance, any reasonable driver above 21 years shouldn’t drink and drive with a BAC of 0.08% or more in California.
Also known as fault, this element proves that the defendant’s actions resulted in the death of your loved one. This element is easy to prove since the plaintiff has already passed on. A qualified Victorville wrongful death lawyer should be able to pin your loved one’s death on the defendant’s negligent actions.
For example, a drunk driver who fails to react on time and brake may end up hitting your wife while crossing the crosswalk. She may sustain severe injuries and lose her life before an ambulance arrives at the scene of the accident.
These are the losses that surviving family members have to deal with after the death of their loved one. They may include burial costs, lost income, medical expenses, and loss of guidance.
How Do You Start a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
If you believe someone else is to blame for the death of your loved one, there are several concrete steps that you should take to ensure you have a valid wrongful death claim in California. Hiring an attorney from the beginning can make your claims process much simpler.
Here’s what our team at the Crockett Law Group recommends.
Contact a Victorville Wrongful Death Lawyer
It isn’t advisable to wait for a long time to reach out to an experienced attorney after the death of your loved one. Hiring a lawyer who specializes in wrongful death claims within California can help you to avoid making common mistakes that could jeopardize your claim.
Determine if You Have a Valid Wrongful Death Claim
A knowledgeable wrongful death attorney from Victorville can determine if what happened to your loved one is indeed a wrongful death incident under California’s wrongful death torts. At Crockett Law Group, our legal team will evaluate if you have a valid negligence-based wrongful death claim using the four elements — duty, breach, causation, and damages.
Find Out Who Can File
Our attorneys will then find out if you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim in Victorville, California.
Prepare Evidence and Documentation
Once we’ve established that you are one of the privileged parties that can file a claim, we will look into the facts of the case to build a stronger claim. We will analyze police reports, medical records, employment files, the coroner’s report, photographic evidence, and eyewitness statements to build an airtight case.
File Your Claim Before the Deadline
Our wrongful death law firm in Victorville will ensure you file your wrongful death claim within two years after the death of your loved one before the statute of limitations runs out.
What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and a Survival Action?
Wrongful death claims in California are at times combined with survival action lawsuits. While the former can be filed by surviving family members like the spouse or children, the latter is filed by a personal representative of the decedent’s estate.
The aim of a wrongful death claim is to compensate family members for the loss of their loved one, while a survival action compensates the deceased’s estate. Under a survival action lawsuit, the deceased’s estate could receive punitive damages.
Contact Our Victorville Wrongful Death Law Firm Today
No amount of money can bring back your loved one. Nonetheless, anyone responsible for the death of your loved one shouldn’t be left to walk around scot-free without paying for their negligence. Holding at-fault parties accountable for the tragic death of someone you care about can bring a sense of justice and closure.
The Crockett Law Group is ready to compassionately listen to what happened and led to the death of your loved one. We will push for maximum compensation for your claim. Book your free case review today to get started.