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California Among The Nationwide Leaders For Fatal Car Accidents

California has long been known as a leader among other states. After all, many progressive and social issues were first addressed in the state. However, sometimes being the leader is not a good thing. According to recently released data, California is among the nation’s leaders in fatal car accidents.

According to federal transportation data, 32,367 people were killed by car accidents nationwide in 2011, representing a 1.9 percent decrease from 2010. This is the lowest number of fatal car accidents in more than 60 years. Although all but 14 states showed a decrease in the number of car accident fatalities, California saw a 2.6 percent increase with 2,791 fatal car accidents. This is more fatal accidents than any other state except Texas.

Fatal accidents and the law

If a loved one is killed in a car accident, certain family members of the victim have legal recourse that is a wrongful death lawsuit. Under California’s wrongful death statute, surviving spouses, domestic partners and children are among the people who may bring a wrongful death suit on behalf of the deceased. If the deceased did not have any family members, as personal representative (or executor) of the estate may also file a lawsuit.

Under California law, wrongful death occurs when a person is killed because of the negligence of another person, company or entity. California law imposes on drivers a minimum standard of conduct, which is to take all measures that can reasonably be taken-such as avoiding texting while driving or speeding-to avoid harming another driver or pedestrians. If an accident occurs and a court of law finds that a driver failed to meet this standard, the driver is legally considered to be negligent and is liable for damages.

Under the law, the person suing the negligent party may recover damages such as:

  • Loss of financial support (i.e. the financial support the victim would have contributed to the family had he or she lived)
  • Loss of gifts or benefits that the victim would have provided to the person suing such as an inheritance
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of consortium-the loss of love, comfort and care that the victim provided
  • The value of household services that the victim provided

If the victim’s death is the result of conduct that is intentional or extreme negligence, the person suing on behalf of the victim can also recover punitive damages (damages intended to punish the negligent party) in many cases.

Consult an attorney

If you have lost a loved one because of the reckless or negligent conduct of another, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can consider your individual situation and work to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.