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Wrongful Death Cases: What They Are, Who Can File One

Posted in Wrongful Death on January 17, 2020

Anytime the death of a loved one occurs, it takes an enormous toll on the surviving family members’ emotional, physical, and often financial health. These events become even more stressful when the loved one’s death was caused by another person being careless. Slips, falls, dog bites, car accidents, botched medical procedures, and numerous other situations can all be the result of one person failing to take proper precautions and, unfortunately, can lead to the death of another individual. When that happens, you could have a case of wrongful death on your hands.

There are many famous wrongful death cases, often involving celebrities or defective products with the potential to harm millions. However, these highly publicized situations don’t always reveal just how complicated wrongful death cases can be for those involved. Many victims, for example, are not always aware when they are even able to pursue compensation for wrongful death.

The following facts can help you better understand what wrongful death is as well as when and how to file a claim:

What Is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is connected to negligence, but it’s important to understand when you are dealing with an actual case of wrongful death and when it is just a negligence claim.

Negligence occurs when a person commits an act that unintentionally harms another person. Car accidents, defective products, dog bites, and many other situations can all happen because of negligence, and typically when litigation follows, it falls into the personal injury category of the law.

However, there are times when one person’s negligent act leads to another’s death. In these cases, the surviving family members may actually be able to pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim.

Also worth noting is that wrongful death cases differ from those involving homicide, which involve the willful killing of another individual. In other words, in homicide, there is intent to harm — a factor that’s absent in cases of wrongful death.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Not just anyone can file a wrongful death claim, no matter how much they loved or were close to the deceased. In wrongful death cases in the state of California, the deceased person’s spouse or children can file a wrongful death claim. If none of those relations exist, the deceased individual’s parents, siblings or other relatives from extended family may be able to file a claim.

Life partners and putative spouses, as well as those who can prove they were financially dependent on the deceased, may also file for wrongful death, even if they are not related by blood.

What Types of Damages Can I Collect?

Once surviving family members have established that their loved one’s death was directly due to someone else’s negligence, they may be able to collect a number of different types of damages. That includes medical bills from when the deceased was in the hospital, compensation for wages that person would have earned, funeral expenses, and compensation for pain and suffering on the part of the victim’s loved ones.

Like many other types of lawsuits, wrongful death cases can be tricky to establish and are best pursued under the guidance of an experienced wrongful death attorney. At Rodriguez & Associates, we stand behind families experiencing the loss of someone due to the carelessness of others. If you and your family are suffering because of the untimely death of a loved one, reach out to us today to discuss the details of your case.

Do I Have a Wrongful Death Case?

A wrongful death claim can’t be filed by just anyone. Only specific individuals with certain relationships to the deceased person can do so. In California, the deceased individual’s spouse, domestic partner, or children can file. If there are no such relations to the previously mentioned relations exist, California law dictates that anyone “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession” can file the claim. This may extend to the deceased’s parents, siblings, or other relatives, or in some cases, people who were financially dependent on the decedent can file a wrongful death claim.

The Bakersfield wrongful death lawyers at Rodriguez & Associates have extensive experience representing loved ones in wrongful death cases in California and throughout the United States. The best way to find out if you have a wrongful death case is to contact experienced lawyers with a strong track record of success. Contact us today at (661) 323-1400 or via our website to see if you have a case.