Tragedies like medical malpractice, car accidents, hazardous conditions or substances, and criminal behavior which result in death, happen all of the time. When these events occur, the victim’s family is often entitled to sue for wrongful death. Wrongful death cases can be complex, so it’s important to understand the key elements involved.
What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?
The different facts that a plaintiff must prove to win their case are known as the “elements” of the lawsuit. Without these, there will be no compensation for losses. Here are the basic elements of wrongful death lawsuits.
The first element that must be present in a California wrongful death claim is negligence. This means that the person or entity who caused the death of your loved one did so through their own carelessness or recklessness.
2. Duty of Care
One of the key elements is that the defendant must owe the victim a “duty of care.” This means that the defendant had a legal obligation to act a certain way to avoid causing harm to others. (For example, all drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles reasonably and safely.)
To establish that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care, your attorney will need to demonstrate that:
-The defendant was aware (or should have been aware) of the risk of harm posed by their actions;
-The risk of harm was foreseeable; and
-It was reasonable for the defendant to take steps to avoid causing harm.
If the defendant did not owe the victim a duty of care, they could be deemed not liable for wrongful death, no matter how negligent their actions may have been.
3. Breach of Duty
Once a duty of care is established, it must then be proven that the defendant breached that contract. A driver’s duty of care could be to other drivers and pedestrians by driving safely and following all the road rules. A driver’s breach of that contract could be if they were texting while driving, which led to an accident.
Causation is a very important element in a wrongful death case. To succeed in your claim, you must show that the defendant’s actions (or inaction) were the cause of your loved one’s death. This can be difficult to prove, especially if there are potentially multiple causes of death. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help you investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death and build a strong causation case.
Depending on the particular facts and circumstances, damages may be recovered in a California wrongful death case. Some of the more common types of damages include:
- Pain and suffering: This type of damage is intended to compensate the family members for the physical and emotional pain and suffering they have endured due to the death of their loved one.
- Loss of companionship: This damage is intended to compensate family members for the loss of love, affection, and companionship that they have suffered due to the death.
- Loss of support: This damage is intended to compensate the family members for the financial support they may lose due to the death. This can include things like lost wages and benefits and any contributions the deceased would have made to things like child care or mortgage payments.
- Funeral and burial expenses: These damages are intended to reimburse the family for any expenses related to the funeral/burial of their loved one.
How Do I Know If I Have A Wrongful Death Case?
When someone dies due to someone else’s actions, an attorney can help establish the elements of your case. They identify what you need to prove and evaluate the evidence according to their legal knowledge.
With the experience of a wrongful death lawyer in California, you can rest assured that you are prepared to protect your legal rights. They will also investigate issues on behalf of your family and help you through the court system to develop a settlement or recover damages from those responsible.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in California
In California, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years from the date of death. This means a lawsuit must be filed within two years to protect your rights. If the lawsuit is not filed within this time frame, you may have just waived your rights to any claim or compensation. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, so you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.
How Can a Pasadena Wrongful Death Lawyer Help?
A wrongful death lawyer in Pasadena can help you understand your legal rights and options if you have lost a loved one in an accident or due to someone else’s negligence. Wrongful death laws vary by state, so it is important to consult with an experienced attorney familiar with California’s specific laws.
If you have lost your family member and believe another party may be at fault, contact Grigoryan Blum and Grigoryan to discuss your case. Our experienced attorneys will review the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death and advise whether you may have grounds for a claim. Our Pasadena wrongful death lawyer will also guide you through every step of the legal process and fight tirelessly to recover the compensation you deserve.
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