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What is considered a “wrongful death lawsuit?”

There are four key elements involved in wrongful death as defined by law. Surviving members submitting a claim or filing a lawsuit must prove each element to win a case for financial recompense. The four key elements include:

Negligence – The surviving members or their legal representatives must prove the death of their loved one was caused (in part or in whole) by the recklessness, carelessness, or negligent actions of the defending party.

Breach of Duty – To be successful in the case, it must be proved that the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit owed a duty to the deceased victim. For example, a motorist maintains a duty to drive safely, and follow and obey every traffic law. Doctors and medical health providers have the duty to maintain a patient’s health. It is up to the plaintiff to establish how the defendant’s duty existed, and that the duty was breached through their negligent actions.

Causation – In addition to proving how the duty of the defendant was breached toward the deceased, the lawsuit plaintiff must also prove how the defendant’s negligence caused their loved one’s death.

Damages – The death of the victim must have generated quantifiable damages such as hospitalization, medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, loss of income and potential earnings, loss of protection, guidance and inheritance along with pain and suffering of the victim prior to death.

California law also limits the amount of time to file a lawsuit. While the general statute allows up to two years, this can be shorter in medical malpractice cases and other special circumstances.

Who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim in California?

It is crucial to speak to an experienced wrongful death attorney. They can help you determine if you have grounds to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.

A number of factors are often involved in determining who can file a wrongful death claim. Surviving family members such as a spouse, children, or any others who depended on the deceased person for support, can bring a wrongful death lawsuit in California. However, these factors are particularly when the decedent has no surviving family members or dies without a will in place.

The damages that survivors may be awarded include the amount of financial support the deceased person would have provided, loss of care and companionship, the cost of pre-death medical treatment, and funeral expenses.

Why do I have to report to my insurance if I’m not at fault?

Most people try to avoid reporting minor accidents to their insurance companies for either two reasons:

  • Assumptions that their insurance rates will increase.
  • Assumptions that things can just be “worked out” between the parties involved without involving the insurance companies.

In California, insurance companies require policyholders to report any accident that they are involved in. No matter if it’s minor or a major accident, failing to do so may result in significant complications or penalties down the road.

At Sunset West Legal Group, we understand that every injury case is different. We have recovered millions for our clients by advising them on next steps, negotiating on their behalf with powerful insurance companies, and even representing clients in court in front of a jury. Your free consultation is the first step in letting us help you get the justice and compensation you deserve.