A wrongful death action is a civil case that’s brought by a family member of a person who died through the negligent or intentional acts of somebody else. The California Wrongful Death Act provides that the surviving family members of the individual who was killed (decedent) are allowed to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for damages.
How is wrongful death determined?
Nearly all wrongful death actions are filed in accident cases that are determined by the law of negligence. Those negligence cases can include but not be limited to:
- Auto and truck accidents
- Construction accidents
- Medical malpractice
To show negligence the party bringing the action is required to prove certain elements. Those elements are:
- A duty to the person who was injured or died
- A breach of that duty
- That the breach caused the injury or death
- Damages incurred by surviving family members
Proving each and every one of these elements can get complicated. You’ll want an experienced personal injury and wrongful death lawyer in your corner. The damages survivors can seek is governed by the Wrongful Death Act. These damages consist of:
- Loss of consortium for a surviving spouse. If not a surviving spouse, loss of companionship, society and companionship of the family member
- The value of any household services that the decedent might have provided in the future
- The amount of financial support the decedent would have provided to the survivors
Other damages not contemplated by the Wrongful Death Act can be sought in another count of the lawsuit that isn’t brought under the act.
How long the decedent would have lived but for the event that caused their death can be a contentious damages issue. Factors in establishing life expectancy within a reasonable degree of certainty might be:
- Age of the decedent
- His or her occupation and lifestyle
- His or her medical condition before death
There’s potential for significant exposure to insurance companies in wrongful death cases. They’re vigorously defended. Issues of negligence and damages can become clouded very quickly without an experienced and aggressive personal injury and wrongful death attorney in Orange County, California. Contact our law offices today if you have questions about the death of a family member.