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Suing for wrongful death after a car accident

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Losing a loved one in a car accident is a devastating experience. If the accident resulted from another party’s negligence, you might wonder if you can sue for wrongful death.

A wrongful death claim is a legal action brought when someone dies due to another’s negligence or intentional act. If you have lost a loved one in a car accident, it is important to understand wrongful death suits. 

Who can file a wrongful death claim?

In California, the following individuals are eligible to file a wrongful death claim:

  • Surviving spouse or domestic partner.
  • Surviving children.
  • If there are no surviving children, those who would be entitled to the deceased’s property through intestate succession, such as parents or siblings.

Proving negligence in a wrongful death case

To succeed in a wrongful death claim, you must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased, such as all drivers having a duty to follow traffic laws. You also need to demonstrate that the defendant breached that duty through actions, such as reckless driving, DUI, or failing to stop at a red light.

Additionally, you must prove that this breach of duty directly caused the death of your loved one and resulted in quantifiable damages.

Types of damages in wrongful death claims

State law allows the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages, including medical expenses related to the deceased’s final injury or illness, funeral, and burial costs. You can also sue for the loss of the deceased’s expected income, loss of companionship, care, and guidance, and the emotional suffering of the surviving family members.

Statute of limitations

It’s important to note that there is a statute of limitations for filing wrongful death lawsuits. You typically have two years from the date of the deceased’s death to file a claim. Missing this deadline can result in losing your right to sue.

Navigating the aftermath of a wrongful death claim

While no amount of money can replace a lost loved one, a wrongful death claim can help provide financial stability and a sense of justice. Understanding your rights and the legal process in California can guide you through this challenging time.