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California Wrongful Death Law – How to Bring & Win a Lawsuit

If your family member died because of someone else’s wrongful conduct, you might have a valid claim for money damages for the untimely death. If the defendant has liability insurance that covers the incident, you can expect that insurance company to defend against the wrongful death claim aggressively, because of the amount of money at stake.

A California wrongful death attorney can battle the insurer on your behalf so that you can focus your energy and attention on dealing with your grief and rebuilding your life. Here is an overview of California’s wrongful death law and how to bring and win a lawsuit.

What Are the Requirements for a Wrongful Death Claim?

At its most basic elements, a wrongful death claim can arise if your close relative died because of someone else’s wrongful conduct. Wrongful conduct, for purposes of a wrongful death case, can be an intentional act or mere negligence. 

Here are some examples of carelessness that could lead to a wrongful death claim:

  • A drunk driver causes a car crash that kills someone else.
  • A patient dies from a medication error or medical malpractice. 
  • A defective airbag in a vehicle explodes and kills the driver or a passenger.
  • A nursing home resident falls and dies from injuries caused by negligence of the facility. 
  • A construction worker falls to his death on the job because of a lack of proper safety equipment.

If an innocent party gets killed by someone else when that other person is committing a crime, like robbing a gas station, the deceased person’s estate and close relatives might qualify to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This situation is an example of wrongful death caused by an intentional act.

Elements Needed to Prove a Wrongful Death Claim

You will need to show that the defendant’s conduct was wrongful, whether negligent or intentional. Also, you must convince the court that the defendant’s wrongful conduct was the cause of death of your loved one.

The evidence you will need to prove your case will depend on how the untimely death happened. For example, if a patient died in the hospital after receiving someone else’s medication dose, the hospital records will provide some of the evidence needed in the case. For a fatal drunk driving accident, the police report will be the starting point for gathering evidence to support a wrongful death case.

Money Damages Available in a Successful Wrongful Death Case

Your loved one’s estate could recover compensation for the final medical bills, funeral, and burial. The legal beneficiaries could seek money damages for loss of the financial support and services of the decedent, loss of love and companionship, loss of guidance and education, and the grief and emotional pain of the survivors. Also, new wrongful death cases in California can seek compensation for the decedent’s disfigurement, and pain and suffering. You will want to talk to a California personal injury attorney to find out if you have a valid wrongful death claim. You only have two years to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for wrongful death in California. If your claim is against a government entity, you will have to go through a different procedure, an administrative claim, which must get filed within six months. For legal help with your wrongful death claim get in touch with our office today and request your free consultation.