WHAT IS WRONGFUL DEATH?
Wrongful death occurs when a person is killed or dies as a result of the misconduct of another person, including murder. As wrongful death is a cause of action filed in civil courts it i separate from any criminal proceedings that may be happening as a result of the death. Thus, a wrongful death cause of action may be filed even if the wrongdoer is not being prosecuted by the state on criminal charges, or if the wrongdoer was acquitted of all charges. The reason for this is the standard of proof. In criminal courts the stat must prove beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt that the wrongdoer caused the death of the victim, which is a pretty high standard to prove. In civil courts, the standard is lower and it’s “preponderance of evidence” standard. Thus, in civil courts more than 50% of the evidence has to prove that the wrongdoer caused the death of a victim.
There are many different examples of wrongful death cases. Some of the most common ones are automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, medical malpractice, toxic torts, or an intentional killing such as murder.
WHO CAN FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM?
As in wrongful death cases the victim is deceased, the question is often asked: “Who can file a wrongful death case?”
According to California Code of Civil Procedure section 337.60, in California a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed by one of the representatives of the decedent’s family who suffered damages as a result of the decedent’s death. These family members include (1) the deceased person’s surviving spouse, (2) the deceased person’s domestic partner, and (3) the deceased person’s surviving children. In addition, a wrongful death lawsuit in California can be brought by persons who can prove that they were financially dependent on the deceased person, such as (1) putative spouses and their children (2) the deceased person’s parents, and (3) the deceased person’s stepchildren.
Thus it is crucial to first determine whether you or your loved one fall under any of the above mentioned categories in order to determine your eligibility to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE PROVEN IN A WRONGFUL DEATH CASE?
In order to prevail in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California certain elements need to be established. First, there must be a wrongful death of a human being. Second, the death needs to be caused by an intentional, willful, reckless or negligent act of another. Third, the person(s) bringing the claim must suffer damages as a result of the wrongful death. Fourth, the wrongful death claim must be filed with the court within two years from the date the death occurred.
Wrongful death of a human being – under this element it must be proven that the wrongdoer caused the death of your loved one by the preponderance of evidence.
Intentional, Willful, Reckless, or Negligent Death – Under this element it must be proven that the wrongdoer acted negligently, by for example killing your loved one in a car accident; intentionally, by for example murdering your loved one; or recklessly, by for example killing your loved one with a car while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol;
Damages – under this element it must be proven that you suffered damages as a result of wrongful death of your loved one. Thus, you must prove funeral expenses, having to pay medical bills which your loved one incurred before passing, loss of income which your would have received including your loved one’s future earnings, loss of love, loss of household services, and also your suffering, sorrow and grief that was caused by the death of your loved one.
Statute of Limitations – under this element you must file a case with the proper court in order for you to be able to have a cause of action against the wrongdoer and recover damages that you are entitled to.
MOST COMMON CAUSES OF WRONGFUL DEATH CASES
There are many different causes of wrongful deaths in Woodland Hills and California. Some of the most common ones are:
- Car Accidents,
- Motorcycle Accidents,
- Truck Accidents,
- Pedestrian Accidents,
- Medical Malpractice,
- Toxic Torts, and
- Intentional killing such as murder
DAMAGES FOR A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM
Losing a loved one as a result of someone else’s wrongdoing, negligence, malpractice or recklessness is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a person and family. Putting a dollar value on such loss is impossible, because no amount of money will bring the deceased person back to life. Millions of dollars cannot possibly compensate for a loss of a loved one. However, there is compensation that the family is entitled to, which could hopefully help in their never ending grief and sorrow. Some of these damages are the following:
- Funeral expenses.
- Medical bills and specials which your loved one incurred before he/she passed on.
- Loss of income, including future earnings of the deceased.
- Loss of love, moral support, affection, guidance and attention.
- Loss of value of household services.
- Loss of consortium
- Compensation for suffering, grief and sorrow.
It is important to obtain an attorney such as Woodland Hills Accident Attorney who will fight for you every step of the way and make sure you receive all damages that you are entitled to. Woodland Hills Accident Lawyer makes it personal and treats every case as if it were his own loss. He will be with you from the initial interview all the way up till the very end when you receive the settlement or verdict that you are entitled to.