Wrongful death is when one person is killed by another person’s misconduct, wrongful action, or negligence. Common examples include car accidents that occur because of negligence.
In the state of California, cases of wrongful death are treated as civil cases and therefore differ from criminal cases involving homicide, which usually result in punishment (fines or imprisonment).
In wrongful death cases, the deceased could have been killed intentionally or accidentally. The important thing for wrongful death cases is that you are able to prove the existence of a few elements: that a duty of care existed, that the Defendant breached duty of care was breached, and that the wrongful action directly caused the death of the Plaintiff’s loved one.
Who can file a wrongful death case?
According to California’s wrongful death statute, the following people can file a wrongful death lawsuit: the decedent’s surviving spouse (or domestic partner); the decedent’s surviving children; the grandchildren of any deceased child of the descendent.
Parents and siblings can only file a lawsuit when the dependent does not leave behind a spouse, children, or grandchildren. If other individuals can prove they were financially dependent on the deceased, they may also be able to file a wrongful death suit. Putative spouses — a spouse in every sense but legally — and their children and stepchildren may also file wrongful death claims if they can prove they were financially reliant on the deceased.
What are the damages in a wrongful death case?
In cases of wrongful death, damages are filed to get compensation for living without the deceased person. They might cover lost earnings, funeral and burial expenses, and emotional support needed for dealing with the loss of a loved one. The family may also receive compensation for the value of the services provided by the deceased.
Some non-economic damages include the loss of the descendant’s “love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support,” according to the state of California.
What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death case?
A statute of limitations determines how long you have after the accident to start legal proceedings. In California, victims of wrongful death cases have two years from the date of the decedent’s death to file a suit.
The death of a loved one is a tragic, emotionally overwhelming event, and one you do not have to struggle with on your own. If you have lost a family member because of someone else’s misconduct or negligence, do not hesitate to contact us today for assistance.
To speak with an attorney about your case at no charge, reach out to us today.