The death of a loved one brings about grief and other complicated emotions. When a loved one suffers an untimely death due to another's negligence or intentionally wrongful conduct, you may be able to recover compensation from the responsible party. In most cases, insurers do not readily offer the full amount to which you're entitled. Where there is clear liability, they may offer a minimal amount, hoping that you take the sum and walk away. Let our experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorneys fight for the full amount of compensation to which you're entitled after the death of a loved one.California Wrongful Death Law
Wrongful death claims in California are brought under Code Civ. Proc. § 377.60. They can be brought when someone dies because of the negligence or the wrongful act of another. They are brought by survivors of the deceased, and damages are expressed in monetary terms. While nothing can fully make up for the untimely loss of a loved one, a successful wrongful death claim results in a jury award that expresses various intangible damages as money damages.
Because there is a higher standard of proof used in a criminal case, a defendant can be acquitted of homicide in criminal court, but still be found liable to family members for wrongful death. The family will have to show the defendant's negligence or wrongful conduct.
In a wrongful death case against a truck driver and his employer for example, you would need to show (1) the truck driver's duty, (2) the breach of duty, (3) causation and (4) damages. You could either assert the employer's indirect liability through a vicarious liability cause of action, or you could assert the employer's direct liability for negligent hire, negligent supervision, or negligent training, depending on what was appropriate in the circumstances. Punitive damages claims can survive the death of the injured person in most cases only if the decedent survived the accident, at least briefly, or if the decedent's property was damaged or lost before death.
Only specific people listed under the statute or the decedent's personal representative can bring a wrongful death claim for their personal losses. The specific statutory claimants include a decedent's surviving spouse and children or domestic partner, stepchildren, parents, siblings or their children, grandparents and those that were financially dependent on the decedent at the time of the death. In California, putative spouses can recover; putative spouses are those surviving spouses of a void or voidable marriage that believed in good faith that the marriage to the decedent was a valid one.
There are two common ways to proceed. Different family members joint together to sue a defendant and the group decides how to split the award or a personal representative can sue and the proceeds of the lawsuit can be distributed according to the laws of succession.
Damages recovered may compensate the decedent's estate for losses associated with death and surviving family members for personal losses associated with the death. For example, an estate can recover funeral expenses, medical bills, and lost income that would have been earned had the decedent lived. Surviving family members typically recover loss of anticipated financial support, value of household services, loss of love, moral support and guidance.Consult an Experienced San Bernardino Wrongful Death Lawyer
If you have lost a loved one due to another person or entity's negligent conduct, such as in a car or truck accident, our San Bernardino wrongful death attorneys can represent you to recover damages. We represent families of deceased accident victims in Riverside, Rancho Cucamonga, and Temecula. Contact us at 1-866-422-7222 or via our online form for a free, no-obligation consultation.