When a person dies at the hand of someone else’s negligence, it is called a wrongful death. San Diego wrongful death lawyers specialize in helping the family members file claims against the negligent party for the death of their loved one. In the state of California, it is the surviving spouse, surviving partner, or dependent children who are the plaintiffs in these cases. Anytime an accident caused a fatality and was caused by someone else’s negligence, a wrongful death claim will be what is filed in court.
The Elements of a Wrongful Death Case
When a San Diego wrongful death lawyer is working to prove negligence in a wrongful death case, some elements must be present for it to qualify. These elements fall under the same criteria for proving that negligence was the causation in an accident.
- Duty of Care
- The philosophy of duty of care means that the defendant in the case was in a position where they should have acted in a certain way, but they didn’t, and this caused the death of another person. Something as simple as a driver following the rules of the road when driving to avoid an accident would be a duty of care.
- Breach of the Duty of Care
- Once the establishment is made that the defendant had a duty of care they owed to the victim in the wrongful death claim, it has to be proven that it was a breach of that duty of care that caused the injuries that lead to death. To follow the example, that driver who was to follow the rules of the road breached them, causing a fatal accident. They breached their duty of care on the roadway.
- The plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit must prove that the breach of the duty of care was what caused the death of their loved one. Again, with the same example, the driver who disregarded the red light and hit the victim in a crosswalk when they had the right-of-way is the causation.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Most wrongful death cases would be personal injury lawsuits if it were not for the fatality that resulted from the negligence. One common misconception by some is the elements that overlap in a wrongful death case and a personal injury case. Even though the decedent was injured and died from the injuries of a car accident, they are unable to file claims because of death. This is what makes it a wrongful death lawsuit because a surviving family member must file the claim in their place.
The most common causes brought to court include:
- Car accident fatalities due to the negligence of a driver (drunk or drugged driving included)
- Reckless driving that resulted in a fatal motorcycle accident
- Medical malpractice that resulted in patient death
- Abuse or neglect in a nursing home setting that leads to the death of a patient
- Malfunction or product liability claim that resulted in the death
- Unsafe property that was not adequately maintained and caused the death
The Eligible Parties Who Can File Wrongful Death Claims
There are only specific people who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state of California. These guidelines are listed in CCP § 377.60 and name surviving spouses, domestic partners, children, putative spouses, the putative spouse’s children, dependents, stepchildren, and parents at the potential parties. San Diego wrongful death lawyers work closely with these parties to ensure that cases are appropriately filed and seek the proper damages from the defendant.
The most common damages found in wrongful death suits are:
- Funeral expenses and burial costs
- Any medical expenses that may have been incurred prior to the death of the decedent
- The loss of the victim’s financial support to the family
- Loss of society and companionship for a surviving spouse
- Loss of financial support for children and spouses
- The pain and suffering endured by losing the decedent
Potential Liable Parties in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death lawsuit can have more than one party that is guilty of negligence. In these types of cases, a San Diego wrongful death lawyer will name all of these parties in the claim they bring before the court. These types of parties include:
- The reckless driver of an automobile
- The government agents tasked with keeping the roadways safe
- The parties responsible for manufacturing, distributing, or installing a faulty vehicle part
- The person who served alcohol to an intoxicated person who caused a drunk driving accident
- The establishment which employed the person who served the alcohol to the intoxicated party
- Anyone who had a duty of care to the decedent and breached it
If the court finds that more than one party contributed to the death of someone, they can require that each entity pays out the claim to the plaintiff. A wrongful death lawyer has the ability to investigate these claims and can find the parties that a plaintiff may not have identified, strengthening the case.
Hiring a San Diego Wrongful Death Lawyer
Much like personal injury cases, the lawyers who take a wrongful death case work on the contingency fee contract. This means that they do not get paid if the plaintiff doesn’t get paid. The surviving party won’t have to become more stressed about figuring out how they are supposed to pay for legal representation until the case is finalized.
The San Diego office of TorkLaw understands the pain and suffering that a plaintiff in a wrongful death claim is enduring. These lawyers possess the expertise to help their clients gain closure by identifying the parties who were negligent and making them pay for the expenses they caused when the decedent was wrongfully killed.
The law offices of TorkLaw offer free case consultations for potential new clients. They are passionate about their cases and want to help those seeking justice for wrongful death. If you are the survivor of someone who was killed by someone’s negligence, TorkLaw wants to talk to you. Call toll-free, 888.845.9696 for your free case consultation.