Losing a loved one is never easy. This difficulty is especially traumatizing when your loved one dies due to the wrongful act or neglect of another person. In some cases, California allows surviving family members to pursue a claim for damages they have suffered as a result of losing the deceased. This type of lawsuit is known as a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death claims can arise in many situations, including fatal auto accidents, trucking accidents, motorbike accidents, and other accidents that result in death.
Wrongful Death: An Overview wrongful death claim arises when someone dies due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. California allows certain surviving family members of the deceased to bring a wrongful death claim to recover monetary damages. For example, if your spouse died in a fatal car accident caused by someone else’s negligent act, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages.
To prevail in a wrongful death claim, the party bringing suit bears the burden of proving that the death was caused by another person’s wrongful act or neglect. In some cases, this hurdle is easy to overcome. For example, if the driver who caused the fatal accident was driving drunk, you can easily prove that the act the driver committed was wrongful. However, finding proof of negligence also presents more challenges. To prove negligence, you must show four distinct elements:
- The responsible party owed a legal duty to act reasonably under the circumstances,
- The responsible party breached their duty of care,
- The breach caused an accident which resulted in the death of another, and
- The death resulted in actual damages to the party bringing the wrongful death claim.
If you lack proof of even a single element, you cannot prevail in the wrongful death claim. An experienced wrongful death attorney at Henderson Law can help determine whether you can prove negligence in your wrongful death claim. We will provide you with a realistic assessment of your case to ensure you know exactly what the process entails.
Who Can Recover in a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
Not just anyone can bring a wrongful death claim. California allows only certain surviving family members to file the claim. In California, the parties who can pursue a wrongful death claim include the deceased’s surviving:
- Domestic partner, and
- Issue (or descendants) of any children of the deceased who are no longer living.
California defines a “domestic partner” as any person who was in a registered domestic partnership in accordance with the California Family Code at the time of the deceased’s death. Under certain conditions, others (e.g., parents and stepchildren) may also file a claim.
What Should I Do After a Fatal Car Accident?
If you lost a loved one in a fatal car accident, you might not know what to do next. That is where we can help.
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney
An experienced personal injury attorney is a critical asset to your wrongful death claim. One of our lawyers can help you in several ways, including:
- Gathering relevant reports and records to establish negligence,
- Determining the damages you are entitled to,
- Negotiating with insurance providers, and
- Ensuring your claim is filed in a timely manner.
Without a wrongful death lawyer, you will have to navigate the process alone.
Do Not Accept a Settlement Offer Immediately
Insurance companies know that the loss of a loved one can lead to extreme financial hardship and devastating emotional issues. Unfortunately, many companies use this knowledge to disadvantage surviving family members. For example, an insurance company might offer you a settlement right away to help you get your finances under control. However, later you might discover that you should have received a significantly higher amount based on the damages you suffered. Unfortunately, once you accept a settlement offer, your wrongful death claim is over. That’s why you should never accept the first settlement offer you receive.
Types of Damages for a Fatal Car Accident
The unexpected loss of a loved one can impact one’s life in many ways. There might be hospital bills associated with the death, the loss of one person’s paycheck, not to mention the added responsibility. Though no amount of money will bring back your loved one, a wrongful death settlement can help you stay afloat financially and hold the responsible party accountable. Damages you can recover as part of a fatal car accident settlement include:
- Loss of future income of the deceased;
- Lost gifts or benefits that the claimant would have expected to receive from the deceased;
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Loss of training and guidance of the deceased;
- Loss of financial support of the deceased; and
- Loss of the deceased’s love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support.
A fatal car accident average settlement will depend on the damages that you suffered in the above-stated categories. Thus, a fatal car accident settlement value varies from case to case.
Henderson Law Can Help You Secure a Fatal Car Accident Average Settlement
We know that losing a loved one can leave surviving family members feeling like there is nowhere left to turn. Having a qualified personal injury lawyer to help you bring a wrongful death suit can give some relief from your added responsibilities. We will ensure that you know what is happening every step of the way and fight to ensure you receive the settlement offer you deserve.
Our team at Henderson Law has over 25 years of experience representing clients in wrongful death suits. We have won tens of millions of dollars for our clients that allowed them to move on with their lives. Our team will listen to your needs and treat you with respect at all times. We will work with you to secure that maximum settlement. Our mission is simple: We fight for you, so you don’t have to.