California personal injury laws allow a person’s close family to sue for wrongful death if they lose their lives due to another’s negligence. If the wrongful act of a person or company causes the death of your loved one, you could recover damages resulting from their death by filing a lawsuit in a civil court against the responsible party. The compensation could help you plan and prepare for their funeral and burial and cater to the immediate needs of their dependents.
It helps to partner with an experienced personal injury lawyer if you wish to file a wrongful death claim in Long Beach, CA. California personal injury laws are complex. An experienced attorney will smoothen the process for you and ensure your rights are protected throughout. Our competent attorneys at Overett Group Attorneys will study the details of your case, walk you through the legal process and fight alongside you for a fair outcome of your case.
An Overview of Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Losing a loved one is a terrible experience for family and friends. It's worse when you know that the death was due to another’s negligence. California personal injury laws hold negligent parties responsible for a person's resulting injuries or death. The liable party faces a lawsuit in a civil court, a result of which the judge could order them to pay compensation to the injured parties or the deceased person’s immediate family.
Wrongful death could have been avoided if the responsible party/parties were careful not to breach their duty of care. For instance, a driver who negligently causes an accident in which many people lose their lives will be responsible for their families’ loss.
Under the personal injury laws, the surviving relatives or estate of the deceased can bring a lawsuit against the responsible party for the wrongful death of their loved one. The compensation recovered can help them plan for the funeral and burial of their loved ones. It can also take care of the family’s needs before adjusting their financial status and seeking an alternative income.
Sadly, individuals and companies continue facing lawsuits for wrongful acts like negligence, recklessness, and intentional acts they can easily avoid. People suffer physical and emotional injuries and monetary damages due to these criminal acts. But it helps to know that you can find help recovering your damages if another party was responsible for your loved one’s death.
Wrongful death lawsuits are not as straightforward to bring as they seem. There is no adequate compensation out there for the death of a person. You cannot put a dollar value on the life of a person. Sometimes the loss is so painful for the family that no one is willing to go through any legal process to obtain compensation for whatever need. Thus, families need the help of a competent personal injury lawyer to understand that wrongful death lawsuits exist and what they could gain from them.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will help you understand the law, what it offers, and how to obtain compensation through the legal process. It will give you great peace knowing that the responsible party has, on the minimum, catered to some of the immediate financial needs you have experienced as a family due to the loss of your loved one. The process also helps you determine the responsible party, which sometimes is a complex matter.
People That Can Bring a Wrongful Death Case in California
When a person loses their life due to another’s negligence, his/her dependents, a family representative, or executor of the person’s estate can bring a lawsuit for their wrongful death in a California civil court. The claim is brought against the responsible party. The victim’s heirs or close family members can bring a lawsuit seeking compensation for the immediate financial losses the family has incurred due to the negligent person’s wrongful acts.
In this case, the party filing the claim will be the plaintiff, and the alleged negligent party will be the defendant. The plaintiff must demonstrate in court that the defendant's wrongful acts caused the death of their loved one, and due to that death, the family has incurred the damages listed on the claim. The defendant's actions must be the direct reason for the death. Otherwise, the claim will not fulfill the personal injury law’s requirements for wrongful death, and the plaintiff will not receive compensation.
California personal injury laws have listed down the people or parties allowed to bring a wrongful death claim in California. They are:
- The surviving spouse.
- The surviving children.
- The administrator of the deceased’s estate.
- The putative spouse or children of a putative spouse to the deceased.
- Dependent stepchildren.
- Any child that has been living under the victim’s roof for more than six months.
- The deceased’s parents.
- The deceased’s siblings or their children.
- The deceased’s grandparents.
According to the wrongful death laws, compensation will be divided if the civil court grants the applicant’s claim. If there are disagreements, the judge can intervene to ensure that everyone deserving a share of the compensation receives according to the law.
How To File a Wrongful Death Suit in Long Beach
Wrongful death lawsuits are common in California. Most of them are due to the increasing number of vehicle accidents. Some drivers operate vehicles while distracted, drunk, drugged, or speeding. All these are wrongful acts that could result in a wrongful death suit if someone loses their life. California registers a good number of slip and fall deaths too, and deaths due to other work-related accidents. It helps to know what to do if you lose a loved one to an accident that another person negligently caused.
Filing a wrongful death claim starts with identifying the cause of the accident and the responsible party. The cause of an accident almost always helps point to a responsible party. For instance, a speeding driver will likely cause an accident on a highway because they have minimal time to react in case of any changes on the road or with other drivers. A distracted driver will not be aware of his/her surroundings and can easily crash on other vehicles on the road. Once the cause of the accident is known, experts can develop a theory on how the accident occurred to determine the responsible party.
Knowing the responsible party is very important in all personal injury lawsuits. That is the party you will file your lawsuit against in a civil court for compensation. You must identify the wrongful acts of the responsible party and be ready to demonstrate that their actions were the direct cause of your loved one’s death. A solid lawsuit will have sufficient evidence to prove in court how the responsible party was negligent in causing the victim’s death. If successful, the judge will award all your damages.
It is advisable to work closely with an experienced personal injury lawyer to ensure that you have a strong case against the responsible party. Remember that the civil court will rely on your evidence and the defendant’s evidence to conclude the matter. That is why you must have quality legal aside to file a winning claim.
The Role of an Attorney
California personal injury laws can be pretty complex and challenging to navigate by an ordinary person. Wrongful death cases are particularly challenging to file due to the complex nature of the laws surrounding them. A person that has just lost a loved one due to another’s negligence can be overwhelmed if they handle the case without legal help.
A competent lawyer will take you through the legal process to ensure everything is ready for the lawsuit. He/she will break down the complex process into manageable bits to ensure that you understand and are a part of every step of the process. For instance, your attorney will start by determining the cause of the accident where you lost your loved one. He/she will then guide you into determining the responsible party. With that information, you will compile a winning claim against the responsible party, complete with evidence of the party’s negligent actions.
Wrongful death lawsuits require adequate preparation, complete with compelling evidence. That is where your attorney comes in. Competent personal injury lawyers have the training and experience in collecting relevant evidence and compiling solid cases on behalf of their clients. Working with a law firm that has handled similar cases in the past will work to your advantage.
Your attorney will also guide you on the type of damages you must include in your claim. California wrongful death laws provide a list of compensatory damages a person can claim in a criminal death case. An ordinary person will not know about them, but a wrongful death attorney will. He/she will ensure that you have identified and included all the damages you deserve compensation for in your claim.
Additionally, you must know the amount of compensation you deserve for your damages. That, too, is a challenging issue that your attorney will help you figure out. Competent personal injury lawyers rely on several experts to determine the several problems after an accident, including the type and amount of damages. For instance, your attorney will help figure out how much each surviving dependent must receive in compensation and for how long.
The success of your claim will depend on the uniqueness of your case. That is something you need help with. You must be careful with how you prepare and file legal claims. It is advisable to hire a competent personal injury lawyer from the start of the process to avoid having your case thrown out of court. Your attorney will ensure that your claim meets all the required details and is filed within the deadlines provided by the law for wrongful death lawsuits.
Types of Damages To Include in Your Claim
A wrongful death claim against the responsible party will help you and the deceased person’s dependents recover damages resulting from his/her untimely death. As previously mentioned, it is difficult to recover your total loss after the death of a loved one. But the law provides a way for you and the close family of the deceased person to recover their immediate losses as they adjust their status and come to terms with their loss. Damages in a wrongful death claim fall into two main categories: economic and non-economic. Let us look at both of them briefly to understand how and why they are awarded:
Economic damages include all the financial losses the family has incurred due to the wrongful death of their loved one. Careful consideration will be made on how much the surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, or even grandparents have lost with the death of their kin. Your claim could include any of the following damages under this category:
Loss of Financial Support
If the deceased were working and providing for his/her family, the amount of financial support he/she must have provided to the family in his/her expected lifespan would be considered. The court will consider how much the family will lose in financial support by considering how much they could have received had the victim survived.
Funeral and Burial Expenses
The family will incur an unexpected loss of money in planning for the funeral and burial of their loved one. They could have saved that money had the victim survived. That is why they must claim compensation from the responsible party. Expenses under this category will include the costs of having the deceased’s body kept in a funeral home, transportation costs, and catering costs incurred during their burial.
You will also be able to claim for the lost benefits, which your loved one will have contributed to had he/she survived. They could include pension and medical benefits.
Any service the deceased would have offered in his/her lifetime should also be considered. Based on the current market price, evaluate how much the service would have cost and include that in the claim.
Any gifts and benefits the deceased’s immediate family would have received would also be included in the claim. That should be calculated according to the previous gifts and benefits family members received while the deceased was still living.
Non-economic damages do not result in direct financial loss but are essential in wrongful death lawsuits. A person’s loss after the death of a loved one is not just monetary but emotional and psychological. It takes time for the family to come to terms with their loss.
It is challenging to quantify non-monetary benefits since they do not directly cause financial loss. But civil court judges award the benefits based on the extent of your suffering after your loved one’s death. Some of the benefits you can include under this category are:
- Loss of guidance, training, care, protection, companionship, love, affection and assistance you would have received from the deceased had he/she lived.
- The lost consortium, or sexual relations if the victim was your spouse.
- Emotional turmoil suffered by close family members after the death.
Involving experts like medical personnel and financial advisors could strengthen your case by telling how much you and others suffered after your kin’s demise. That could cause the judge to award substantial compensation for your loss.
The law does not have a standard for determining the amount a plaintiff can receive for non-economic damages suffered after a wrongful death. The judge awards a reasonable amount based on common sense and evidence brought before the court. That is why you must involve a competent personal injury lawyer to gather enough solid evidence to support your claims. That way, you will receive the compensation you deserve.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits in California
Personal injury laws also provide a statute of limitations, a timeline within which the close family members or representatives of a victim’s estate can bring a lawsuit against the responsible party. It is necessary to take note of this deadline because filing a case after the given timelines could cause the jury to throw out your case.
The deadline provided for filing wrongful death claims in California civil courts is two years from the date of the death. It means that within those two years, you must make a decision to pursue compensation against the responsible party, find legal help, prepare and file a lawsuit, and gather evidence to support your claims.
The death of a close family member will likely affect you, such that you will need enough time to recover before deciding to file a suit in court. That explains why many wrongful death cases do not receive the compensation they deserve. Family members take too long to mourn the loss of their loved one and then run out of time to plan, prepare and file a suit in court.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer from the start of the process will ensure that your case meets all set deadlines.
Find a Competent Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
Have you lost a loved one due to the wrongful acts of another person?
You could be eligible for compensation for the wrongful death of your loved one, thanks to the California personal injury laws. Find a competent personal injury lawyer for advice and help prepare and file a successful civil court claim. If you need legal help in Long Beach, CA, contact Overett Group Attorneys at 562-986-9864. Our team of skilled attorneys will study the details of your case to advise you on the right action to take. We have the experience you need to obtain a fair outcome of your case.