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Wrongful death is a person’s death caused by someone else’s neglect or wrongful act. Negligence is a common factor in cases like this. Negligence occurs when one party fails to exercise a reasonable degree of care to avoid harming others. If you can prove the at-fault individual or entity was negligent in causing your loved one’s death, you could pursue legal action against them.
It’s crucial to understand that a wrongful death lawsuit differs significantly from criminal charges. When you press charges against someone for causing another person’s death, they could face criminal penalties, such as a prison sentence and fines. A wrongful death case seeks a monetary penalty from the at-fault party to cover the losses suffered by the surviving family.
An individual, business, or combination of parties could be at fault for someone’s death. The most common causes of wrongful death include:
Surviving family members can initiate a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court. Common plaintiffs in wrongful death cases include:
If the deceased victim doesn’t have any surviving relatives in their line of descent, someone entitled to their property through intestate succession could file the lawsuit. That could be a surviving parent or sibling.
Additional individuals can also pursue a wrongful death case if they were dependent on the decedent, including:
If multiple people decide to sue the at-fault party, the court could consolidate each legal action into one single case for trial. The court will determine the compensation awarded to each person named in the lawsuit.
As a surviving family member or dependent, it is your right to pursue compensation from the negligent party that caused your loved one’s death. The monetary award you receive could compensate for the losses you suffered, such as:
If you want to seek exemplary damages, you must file a survival action. This compensates the estate for losses unrelated to the death the deceased could have pursued compensation for up until the date they died, as well as losses resulting from the injury they sustained if they survived for a period after the incident. A survival action does not allow compensation for disfigurement, pain, or suffering.
There is a statute of limitations you must abide by if you want to sue the negligent party for causing your loved one’s death. The statute of limitations in California is two years. That means you have two years from the date your relative died to file your lawsuit if you want to recover compensation. After the deadline passes, you could lose your right to initiate a civil action in court.
Like any personal injury lawsuit, a wrongful death lawsuit requires showing proof of the at-fault party’s misconduct. If they were entirely at fault, you could seek the total available monetary award. However, if your loved one’s actions contributed to their death in any way, you will receive diminished compensation.
Pure comparative negligence reduces a plaintiff’s compensation by their percentage of shared fault. For example, if your loved one’s death resulted in $100,000 in losses, but a jury determines they were 25% responsible for the incident, you could only receive up to $75,000 in a lawsuit.
Car accidents are a common cause of wrongful death in California. In 2019, 3,316 fatal collisions caused 3,606 fatalities. Of these deaths, 33% were the occupants of passenger cars, 27% were pedestrians, and 13% were motorcyclists. The highest number of fatalities occurred in single-vehicle crashes.
Commercial truck accidents are also a common cause of wrongful death. If truck drivers behave recklessly or make an error at the wheel, they put other people at risk of injury and death. In 2020, accidents involving large trucks resulted in 440 fatalities in California.
Fatal workplace injuries are common among various industries, such as construction and transportation. Some occupations are more dangerous than others. In 2019, the number of fatal occupational injuries in these industry sectors included:
Nursing home abuse is tragically common in California. As distressing as it may be to imagine, older adults are vulnerable to mistreatment while living in long-term care facilities. If a staff member or another party physically abuses or neglects a patient, a fatal injury or medical condition could result.
A study determined that California has one of the highest elder abuse and neglect rates in the country. That is due to the lack of protections and resources for individuals in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. According to National Council On Aging, five million older adults experience some type of abuse every year.
Losing someone you love in a preventable accident is a tragic experience for anyone to endure. You deserve to hold the negligent party accountable for their actions. However, pursuing legal action can be a huge undertaking. When you’re already grieving your loss, you might not have the mental capacity to handle a legal case. That is where OnderLaw comes in.
Our Santa Clarita wrongful death attorneys can take on this responsibility. You should take this time to focus on coping with what happened and getting your life back on track. We will investigate the incident to determine the circumstances and gather all available evidence to prove who was at fault.
OnderLaw has experience representing surviving family members in wrongful death lawsuits. We have a proven track record of success in holding companies and individuals liable for the harm they cause.
Since 2002, we have received multiple awards and accolades from prestigious organizations, including the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, The National Trial Lawyers, and Super Lawyers. We also hold an AV® rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating a law firm can receive.
We understand the economic strain of paying for final medical bills and other costs after a family member dies. We take cases on contingency, so you’re not burdened by upfront fees or costs. We will not collect any legal fees unless we secure compensation on your behalf.
OnderLaw will remain in your corner throughout your entire case. We will provide you with sound legal advice and keep you informed on the status of your case at every step in the legal process. Your case will be a priority from start to finish. No matter what happens, you can depend on our team to fight for you and seek justice on behalf of your loved one.
If someone’s negligence caused your relative’s death, do not hesitate to contact OnderLaw. One of our Santa Clarita wrongful death attorneys will go over all the details during your free initial consultation and determine if we can take your case. Call now.