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Filing a Wrongful Death Claim After a Car Accident

After the accidental death of a loved one, the grief, pain, and emotional trauma for the victim’s survivors can be very overwhelming. In many cases, a wrongful death case will result in a great financial loss for the victim’s family members. These losses can include memorial and burial costs as well as the loss of the victim’s future earnings. A surviving family member’s pain and suffering can ultimately be incalculable.

When a person’s death is caused as a result of someone else’s negligent actions, the surviving family members have a right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the reckless party for damages.

Wrongful Death Claims Filed in California

Most wrongful deaths are accidental and will often occur as a result of another’s reckless or negligent actions. Some, however, can also occur as a result of criminal actions. When an individual fails to take reasonable care in avoiding the injury of another, this can constitute negligence and this in turn will be considered a wrongful death.

The State of California allows certain surviving family members the opportunity to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party responsible for their loved one’s death. This case will be separate from any criminal charges the accused party faces. When a wrongful death claim is successful, the party responsible for the victim’s death will be ordered to compensate the victim’s family for their losses.

Elements Required in a Wrongful Death Case

To achieve a successful wrongful death case in the State of California, the following factors must be demonstrated:

  1. The party named as responsible for the accident owed the victim a duty of care;
  2. This party breached said duty of care through their reckless, negligent, or intentional actions;
  3. The breach caused the accident that led to the victim’s death; and
  4. The victim’s passing resulted in economic losses for the victim’s surviving family members.

The duty of care will depend on the specifics of the case. The following examples illustrate what a duty of care is and how it can be breached:

  • Drivers in the State of California have a duty to drive safely. A breach of duty can occur when a driver chooses to drive while intoxicated, engages in aggressive driving, or violates traffic laws.
  • Companies have a responsibility to sell products that are safe and will not harm consumers who are using the product as it was intended. Companies also have a responsibility to warn consumers about the potential risks associated with the use of their product. When a company sells a product that is defective or otherwise unreasonably dangerous without a proper warning, this will constitute a breach in duty.
  • Medical facilities and licensed healthcare workers are expected to provide their patients a level of care a similarly trained professional would provide his or her patient in a similar situation. When a hospital or doctor’s actions fall below the applicable standard of care for medical professionals and a medical error is made, their duty of care will be breached.
  • In California, property owners have a duty to ensure their property is free from hazards or dangerous conditions. If a property owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition in the property yet failed to make proper reparations or warn visitors, the property owner will have breached his or her duty of care.

Obtain the Support of an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney

If you have lost a loved one as a consequence of another’s wrongful actions, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A qualified wrongful death attorney can investigate the case and will help you determine the viability of your case.

Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP understand the sensitivity of wrongful death cases. The firm understands that upon a tragic accident, the last thing a grieving family will want is to subject themselves to a legal case. The compassionate team at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP are equipped to handle the case in its entirety and help their clients champion for justice. After the sudden death of a loved one caused by another’s reckless actions, consider obtaining the legal support of Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP. Schedule a no-obligation consultation with the law firm today.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.