Experiencing the loss of a loved one is already heart-wrenching. It becomes even more agonizing when the death is a result of someone else’s carelessness. In California, you may have a rightful claim for compensation for such a loss. To successfully present your case, understanding the intricacies of wrongful death claims becomes paramount. Contact Law Offices of Michael A. Kahn at (310) 209-1600 for a free legal consultation.
Distinguishing Wrongful Death Claims
In essence, a wrongful death claim arises when the carelessness or negligence of another leads to a person’s death. Situations can range from car mishaps and medical errors to neglect in care facilities. Yet, it’s crucial to note the difference between wrongful death claims and criminal proceedings. The former seeks monetary compensation for the deceased’s family, while the latter focuses on penalizing the perpetrator.
Evidencing Negligence in Wrongful Death
Winning a wrongful death lawsuit demands proof. You need to establish:
- A direct relationship between the negligent act and the death.
- The negligent act resulted in injuries leading to the death.
- The deceased’s close relatives, such as spouses or children, suffered due to this loss.
Taking a car accident as an example, if alleging another driver’s carelessness, it becomes crucial to present evidence, like demonstrating the driver was distracted.
Key Factors to Establish Negligence
- Duty of Care: Begin by establishing that the party in question owed a duty of care. Like drivers, they must adhere to road rules and ensure safety.
- Breach of Duty: Demonstrating that the responsible party failed in their duty. A driver disregarding traffic lights could serve as evidence.
- Causation: It’s pivotal to connect the breach of duty directly to the demise.
- Losses Incurred: Finally, show the tangible losses resulting from the death, be it emotional or financial.
Intentional Acts and Wrongful Death
While most wrongful death cases center around unintended negligence, there might be instances where the act was intentional. In cases where deliberate harm led to death, it may be classified as felony homicide, opening doors for punitive damages.
Assessing Compensation in Wrongful Death
Calculating the rightful compensation involves several layers. Only specific close relatives, as outlined in California’s legal code, can claim compensation:
- Spouses or domestic partners.
- Children, step-children, or dependents.
- Parents or siblings.
Losses that might be factored in include funeral expenses, medical bills prior to death, loss of financial support, and intangible losses like lack of companionship or guidance.
Contrasting Survival Action and Wrongful Death Claims
There’s also a provision for ‘survival action,’ allowing recovery for damages the deceased might have incurred between the time of the incident and their passing. This is separate from wrongful death, which compensates the survivors for their loss.
While survival action might seem unnecessary in instances where the deceased’s suffering was short-lived, in cases involving substantial medical bills or instances with drunk driving, seeking punitive damages through survival action might be worth considering.
When uncertain about the approach, seeking counsel from a seasoned attorney like those at Law Offices of Michael A. Kahn at (310) 209-1600 is advisable. They can guide you through the complexities, ensuring your rights and sentiments are prioritized.