The death of a loved one is an incredibly difficult process to endure.
In the event that the death was caused by the negligence of another party,
financial worries and legal action prosecuting those responsible can intensify
feelings of loss and stress. When it comes to recovering the damages suffered
after a family member's death, it is vital to retain legal counsel
to learn your rights and help file a timely wrongful death claim.
Help for Victims' Families
When a person dies due to the fault of another person, that person's
living relatives may be able to file a wrongful death claim. A death may
occur as a result of a car-accident, trucking accident, motorcycle accident,
bicycle accident, pedestrian accident, or a fall on someone's property
(premises liability accident). Sometimes a person incurs hospital or medical
bills because of the accident and then dies of those injuries. All of
these situations are wrongful death claims. Wrongful death claims were
created to protect the rights and well-being of a victim's family
and filing them correctly is crucial to being adequately compensated.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
Wrongful death claims are filed on behalf of the survivors who suffer any
damages, expenses and extenuating circumstances as a result of the decedent's
death. According to California Civil Procedure section 377.60, the following
people, or a representative on their behalf, may file wrongful death claims:
- Immediate family members (spouses, children and parents of unmarried children)
- Life partners or domestic partners
- Putative spouses (a domestic partnership entered into in good faith)
- Minors residing with and dependent on the decedent 6 months prior to the death
What are the elements of wrongful death compensation?
Compensation for family members or individuals filing claims typically
involves three general types of damages. These damages include economic
damages, non-economic damages and punitive damages.
Economic damages consist of any financial support or monetary benefit the victim would
have provided to the survivors during the victim’s life, funeral
expenses. A survivor’s loss of financial support is defined broadly
to be any financial support, gifts, benefits, and the value of household
services that the victim would have contributed to his or her household.
If medical expenses are incurred prior to death, these would be recoverable
economic damages for a personal injury claim that could be filed at the
same time as the wrongful death claim by survivors.
Non-economic damages are considered less tangible, though not less valuable, forms of support
the deceased victim would have provided. For example, the surviving family's
loss of love, companionship, comfort, loss of care, protection, guidance,
moral support, and advice of a loved one are all forms of non-economic
damages for which a negligent party is required to pay compensation. These
forms of loss and suffering are not determined by any formula or financial
calculation. They are determined by the evidence presented by the survivors
of their relationship to the deceased victim.
Punitive damages are rare, but occasionally applicable, and can be awarded the families
of victims in order to punish those responsible for the wrongful death
and can vary considerably from case to case. The law allows punitive damages
if malice, oppression, or fraud is proven. Oppression may be defined as
the conscious disregard for the rights of others.
Providing Victims with Legal Help
Calculating damages can be a very complicated, emotionally demanding, and
very difficult experience for victims. x. These cases can involve complicated
areas of law, intricacies in financial matters and an uncompassionate
legal atmosphere, making wrongful death procedures easily misunderstood
without experienced legal advice. Our firm takes pride in the fact that
we establish a close and genuine relationship with our clients, competently
assess their particular case and do everything available under the law
to recover all compensation to which the survivors are legally entitled.
We understand that wrongful death claims create additional burdens to
an already difficult situation and SWARTZ & KENNEDY handles all the
legal and insurance aspects of the wrongful death claims allowing our
clients to focus on the difficult family situation surrounding the loss
of a loved one.
Contact us to discuss your situation and how we can help.