examples of wrongful death claims

Examples of Wrongful Death Claims in California

examples of wrongful death claims

Losing a loved one is never easy, but finding out that their death was caused by the negligence of another person or entity is even worse. In California, wrongful death claims are filed daily for various reasons by those who lost a family member because of the harmful acts of another.

The substantial emotional, physical, and financial toll a wrongful death can have on a family is hard to imagine. A horrific incident like this can rock the foundation of a family’s day-to-day life and change the course of its future. It can be challenging to pick up the pieces and attain justice for a family member who is not around to fight for themselves.

When faced with the wrongful death of a loved one, it is worth speaking with a wrongful death claims attorney in California to understand what legal options are available. Lawyers with experience in this area of law can help to build strong cases, explain the statute of limitations, and secure recoverable damages.

Examples of Wrongful Death Claims in California

A wrongful death occurs when someone loses their life because of another person or entity’s negligence. Wrongful deaths occur in many settings, including at work and in public and private places.

Below are some of the most common types of wrongful deaths:

  • Car accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Accidents at work
  • Defective products
  • Train accidents
  • Semi-truck crashes
  • Airplane accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents

Wrongful deaths can occur in various settings and for countless reasons. However, the one common factor is that had the negligence not taken place, the unfortunate victims may have lived. Thankfully, the families of those lost have the option of filing a wrongful death claim to recover damages for their losses. These damages will not bring back the family member they lost, but these recoverable damages will help hold those responsible for the wrongful death accountable for their harmful actions and provide much needed financial assistance in the aftermath of a tragic loss.

Wrongful Death in Car Accidents

Wrongful death in a car accident can occur due to negligence or recklessness by another motorist, criminal activity, or even a manufacturing defect by an automaker or another entity in the supply chain. Common fatal injuries resulting from a car crash can include traumatic brain injuries, internal bleeding, broken ribs, or spinal cord injuries.

Wrongful Death in Semi-Truck Crashes

Semi-trucks cause more devastation than traditional car accidents due to their size and weight. Common causes of fatal truck crashes that lead to wrongful death claims include truck driver error, distracted truck drivers, and tire blowouts.

Wrongful Death in Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents

Families of victims of fatal bicycle accidents caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness may be entitled to compensation for damages through a wrongful death claim. Negligent drivers are not the only cause of fatal injuries to bicyclists and other pedestrians; other circumstances can also cause fatalities.

Wrongful Death in Premises Liability

Families of victims of fatal accidents on someone else’s property may be entitled to compensation for damages through a wrongful death claim. Causes of death leading to premises liability claims include building collapse, daycare injuries, inadequate lighting, animal attacks, theme park accidents, and water-related incidents. A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed if the property owner was negligent and that negligence caused the victim’s death.

Wrongful Death in Defective Products

Negligence in designing or manufacturing a product can lead to a wrongful death. Defective products such as car parts, medical devices, gas cans, and children’s toys can cause fatal accidents, leading to a wrongful death. Defective product fatalities usually arise from unreasonably dangerous products, such as the faulty design of parts of vehicles which can cause fatal injuries.

Wrongful Death Law in California

Wrongful death describes the “death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another” under the California Code of Civil Procedure. A person who is found to have caused a wrongful death may be ordered to pay money to the family of the decedent. The payment of monetary damages is the only consequence the responsible party will face unless separate criminal charges are filed.

Proving a Wrongful Death Claim

The most common legal standard for imposing liability in wrongful death cases is negligence. A person is found negligent if the harm to another was a foreseeable consequence of the action taken or actions that should have been taken and were not. The foreseeability of the consequences is determined by what a reasonable person would have understood given the same circumstances.

The four elements necessary to prove negligence in a wrongful death claim include:

  • Establishing a duty of care – People have a duty to avoid activities where a foreseeable consequence is a harm to others.
  • Showing a breach of duty – The duty of care is breached by engaging in activities despite the potential for harm to others.
  • Connecting the breach to the harm – It’s not enough that a defendant was negligent. The defendant’s negligence must be a ‘substantial factor’ in causing harm to the plaintiff.
  • Proving the extent of the harm – Plaintiffs need to provide proof of their losses to justify an award of compensation.

A duty of care does not need to be established where a defendant has violated a law. The law creates the standard of care and violating it constitutes a breach of this standard. Negligence is presumed as a matter of law, but a plaintiff still must prove the violation was a substantial factor in causing the claimed harm.

Who is Liable for a Wrongful Death?

Any person who actually caused harm to another is liable for the consequences, but other individuals and/or entities are often also legally responsible, in fact, or by law, for contributing to the circumstances that caused the harm which resulted in the wrongful death and/or because they had some type of control over the responsible party.

Who Can Make a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death claims are intended to compensate the close family members of the decedent for their economic as well as non-economic losses. In California, a wrongful death action can be initiated by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate or any of the following people:

  • Surviving spouse or domestic partner
  • Children
  • Grandchildren (of deceased children)
  • Parents (if the deceased had no children)
  • Legal guardian (if parents are deceased)
  • Persons economically dependent on the decedent

Is Wrongful Death the same as a Survival Action?

A wrongful death action is not the same as a survival action. Though both claims can arise from the injuries suffered by the loved one who was wrongly killed, a wrongful death action seeks financial compensation for the losses sustained by family members, whereas a survival action is based on the personal injury claim the decedent would have been able to make if he or she had lived and thus seeks to recover the losses they could have recovered, which are different than wrongful death damages.

A decedent’s cause of action accrues when the deceased lives for a period of time following the injuries that ultimately resulted in their death. The lawsuit is usually filed by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, and any proceeds from the lawsuit are paid to the estate to be distributed according to the provisions of any estate planning documents and/or state inheritance laws.

Contact Curtis Legal Group for California Wrongful Death Claims

Those needing a California wrongful death attorney can rely on Curtis Legal Group. Our clients know they can count on us to handle the most challenging cases because we put their needs first. With over 100 years of combined experience, we are committed to giving you the personalized attention you deserve. Contact us today for a case evaluation and free consultation.