It would be nice if we all lived to an old age and then died peacefully from natural causes. However, this ideal scenario does not always happen. Sometimes, a person’s life is taken away by another person’s negligence or malice, such as in a car crash or homicide. When these tragic incidents occur, the victim’s survivors may wish to pursue a wrongful death claim to obtain compensation for the damages they suffered. Wrongful death claims are civil claims and can be sought alongside criminal proceedings.
The elements of a wrongful death claim in California are as follows. First, there must be the death of a human being either due to the negligent act of another or due to another’s intent to hurt the victim (even if the person didn’t mean to kill the victim). The surviving family members of the victim must have suffered financial damages due to their loved one’s death. Finally, a personal representative must be appointed to the decedent’s estate.
In California, there are certain damages that may be sought through a wrongful death suit. Compensation may be sought for medical expenses incurred by the deceased right before they passed away. Funeral and burial expenses may also be sought. Potential income may be sought based on what the deceased would reasonably have earned had they not passed away. Finally, damages for the loss of companionship may be sought.
These are only the basics of a California wrongful death claim. These claims have the potential to become very complex very quickly. It is important that the right plaintiffs file the claim against all potential defendants and within a certain legal timeframe. In order to ensure the case is handled appropriately, it can help to have legal guidance throughout the process.