Did you lose your loved one in an accident because of another person’s negligence? You can file a wrongful death lawsuit under the law of California. Losing a loved one because of another party’s negligence gives you the possibility to recover damages for your losses.
However, wrongful death must be proven in court by a preponderance of the evidence. This means you and your attorney need to bring plenty of evidence that the defendant’s action or inaction at least contributed to your loved one’s death.
Learn about California wrongful death lawsuits below, including how difficult they are to prove. If you have questions about a potential case, please contact Glendale wrongful death attorneys Ourfalian & Ourfalian.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action against someone who was negligent and caused the death of another person. For example, wrongful death lawsuits are brought for victims of accidents who would have filed personal injury lawsuits if they had lived. The survivors may receive compensation for their losses if the case is successful. In addition, a settlement or jury award may include compensation for non-monetary and monetary damages. The most common wrongful death lawsuits involve these situations:
You cannot file a California wrongful death lawsuit for every case. A valid wrongful death lawsuit must prove the following four elements through substantial evidence. While the burden of proof in a wrongful death lawsuit is not as high as in a criminal case, you must prove these elements by a preponderance of the evidence. If you do, you may be awarded damages for your losses:
You must prove that the defendant’s negligent behavior led to your loved one’s death. The legal definition of negligence means they failed to act according to the standard of care. Or they did not act in a way to prevent the death of your loved one.
The defendant must have owed a duty of care to your loved one. This means they were responsible for acting safely or rationally in a way that a ‘reasonable person’ would have acted in the same scenario. For instance, physicians have a duty to make proper medical decisions that will not injure or kill a patient.
Breach of duty is any act another reasonable person would not have done in the same situation. It also includes acts of carelessness and disregarding of the safety of others. For example, a driver high on marijuana, who kills someone at a stop sign, breached their duty to drive safely and not recklessly.
You must prove how the other party’s negligence caused or contributed to your loved one’s death. This means you must show the death would not have occurred if the defendant had not caused or contributed to it.
For example, a drunk driver may have run a red light and slammed into your spouse’s car, killing him. It could be relatively easy to prove that the alleged drunk driver caused the death of your loved one.
You must show the court that the death of your loved one led to damages. Damages from this loss include economic damages that can be proven easily, such as:
Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate. They involve the mental and emotional pain of your loss:
Some wrongful deaths can be challenging to approve. You and your wrongful death attorney must prove the four elements of wrongful death. If you prove the first three elements but do not show damages, you cannot prevail in the lawsuit. You and your loved ones only will be compensated if you prove all four.
The good news is it is easier to meet the burden of proof in a wrongful death lawsuit than a criminal case. Beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard in criminal cases and is the most difficult to prove. The standard of proof in wrongful death is lower.
However, the burden of proof is on you or the person who files the lawsuit. The defendant does not need to prove their innocence. However, to prove your case by the preponderance of the evidence, you need to show your claim has at least a 50% chance of being true.
Be mindful of the two-year statute of limitations for California wrongful death lawsuits. Therefore, you have only two years from your loved one’s date of death to file a lawsuit.
If you lost a loved one in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, you face emotional devastation and uncertainty about the future. For example, will you be able to save for your child’s college expenses? Can you pay your mortgage? What about your other bills?
Glendale wrongful death attorneys Ourfalian & Ourfalian have represented California wrongful death clients for 35 years. Whether you lost your loved one in a car, truck, motorcycle, or another type of accident, our wrongful death attorneys can obtain compensation to secure your financial future.
Ourfalian & Ourfalian represent wrongful death clients in Encino, Alhambra, Arcadia, Burbank, Glendale, El Monte, Granada Hills, Los Angeles, Monterey Park, North Hollywood, Pasadena, Van Nuys, and surrounding communities in Southern California and the San Fernando Valley. Please contact us immediately for a complimentary consultation at: (818) 550-7777.
Ourfalian & Ourfalian has successfully represented thousands of individuals and small businesses throughout the San Fernando Valley and Southern California over the last four decades. Our experienced attorneys focus on civil litigation which includes but is not limited to helping injury victims get just compensation after serious accidents. There is a distinct culture at Ourfalian & Ourfalian that is not easy to characterize but is felt everyday by the firm’s employees and clientele. Contact our Glendale Personal Injury & Civil Litigation law practice today to schedule a free initial consultation.