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What Is a California Wrongful Death Action?

Posted on in Personal Injury

California wrongful death claim, California personal injury attorneyIf a loved one dies in an accident that was not his or her fault, you may be able to recover damages. While no monetary amount will ever be able to completely compensate you for the loss of a loved one, it is important that you hire a lawyer who focuses on wrongful death action who can fight for you in this difficult time.

Wrongful death actions are meant to compensate the family of someone who died for its loss of support and services, funeral expenses, and loss of companionship. Included in the damage calculation is the loss of financial support that the deceased person will no longer provide.

Under California wrongful death law, only certain groups may recover these money damages:

  • A surviving spouse or registered domestic partner;
  • Surviving children; and
  • Siblings or other family members who would have inherited from the deceased if that person did not have a will, if the deceased had no surviving children.

These are the most common groups of people who can file a wrongful death claim. However, if the following groups can show they were financially dependent on the deceased person, they can also file a suit and potentially recover:

  • Parents of the deceased;
  • Stepchildren of the deceased; and
  • The putative spouse the deceased and children of the putative spouse.

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil suit as opposed to a criminal case, which would be prosecuted by a district attorney on behalf of the state in order to punish the perpetrator of a crime. This means that the party bringing the civil suit must only prove his or her case to a preponderance of the evidence. This is sometimes referred to the more likely than not standard. In a criminal homicide case, a district attorney would have to prove that the accused killed the victim beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a much higher standard. Another thing to note about wrongful death suits is that punitive damages are prohibited.

Another type of claim that is often times filed with a wrongful death action is a survivor action. These two actions are different and are meant to compensate different injuries. The key requirement for a survival action is that the deceased person did not immediately die from the injuries. In a survival action, the family of the deceased “steps into the shoes” of the deceased and brings a suit on his or her behalf for any damages the deceased may be awarded. Medical expenses, lost wages, and punitive damages are awardable. Pain and suffering and damages for disfigurement are not awardable in this type of action.

If a loved one dies in an accident, there could be several ways to compensate loved ones for their loss. The San Jose wrongful death attorneys at Jachimowicz Law Group, Attorneys at Law, Inc. charge no upfront fees for representation in wrongful death suits because they work on a contingency fee basis. Call 408-246-5500 for a free consultation.

 

Sources:

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=ccp&group=00001-01000&file=377.60-377.62

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=ccp&group=00001-01000&file=377.30-377.35

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