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How to Prove a Wrongful Death Case to Obtain the Compensation You Deserve for Damages

Many types of situations can lead to the wrongful death of a loved one. However, wrongful death is almost always caused by either the action or inaction of an individual who had a legal duty to act with care. Because of the tragic nature that is common to all wrongful death situations, there are laws in place to ensure that surviving family members of the deceased can seek justice and compensation.

California law states that certain individuals, such as surviving spouses/valid domestic partners and children, can bring a wrongful death claim if their loved one was killed due to the negligence of another person, group, or other types of entity. Wrongful death claims in Bakersfield are governed by the Code of Civil Procedure. This statute entitles the survivor(s) of a wrongfully killed person the right to sue for the recovery of damages after a death caused by negligence.

If you have lost a loved one due to wrongful death, we extend our deepest condolences to you. At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our Bakersfield wrongful death attorneys are available 24/7 to help you with your case. We will make sure you get the justice and compensation you deserve for your losses.

Please don’t hesitate to contact our 24/7 legal team by calling (661) 299-7554 or emailing [email protected] to schedule a free consultation at our Bakersfield personal injury law firm.

Examples of Wrongful Death Acts

A few common examples of wrongful acts/deaths include:

  • Car accidents, including DUI’s
  • Murder/manslaughter
  • Elder abuse and neglect
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Slip and falls
  • Drowning
  • Police negligence
  • Assault and battery
  • Medical malpractice

How Do I Prove a Wrongful Death Claim?

Death Must Have Occurred
Proving death is not difficult in most circumstances. However, it’s worth mentioning that there are rare cases when it can become a challenge, especially when it is not clear whether the individual actually died. For example, what if a plane that was carrying a loved one goes missing? Unless the pieces of the plane are recovered, or until a body is found, it can become impossible to determine whether a death actually occurred.

Death Must Have Been Caused by a Wrongful Act

It must be proven that an intentional reckless or negligent act was the cause of a loved one’s death. It is also necessary to show that a duty of care existed when the death occurred, that a duty of care was breached, and that the death was caused by this breach. Below is a more detailed explanation of what these terms mean.

  • Duty of Care: When a person owes someone a duty of care, it means that they must not do anything to harm them. For example, a driver is required to make a full stop once the traffic light turns red.
  • Breach of Duty: It must also be proven that a duty of care was breached. For example, the driver noticed the red light, however, they chose to speed rather than make a full stop. As the driver sped by, they crashed into another vehicle that was driving under a green light.
  • Causation: Finally, it must also be proven that the breach was the direct cause of death. Following the above examples, the driver went against California’s road rules and inflicted severe harm onto the other innocent driver, which ultimately led to their death.

An Overview of Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim

How does a court determine how much surviving family members must be compensated for ? The period of time during which damages are recoverable is typically the shorter of:

  • The decedent’s life expectancy when the wrongful act took place
  • The life expectancy of the plaintiff when the wrongful act took place

Factors such as lifestyle, health, and job occupation will be taken into consideration by the court to determine the amount of economic and non-economic damages the plaintiff may be awarded.

Economic damages are intended to compensate an accident victim for losses a dollar amount can objectively be attached to. The total amount of compensation is calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an injured motorcyclist has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries. A few examples of economic losses include loss of earning capacity, medical bills, loss of earning capacity, and funeral and burial expenses.

Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are intended to compensate an injury victim for losses that are thought of as subjective. For example, non-economic damages may include compensation for emotional distress, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering.

Statute of Limitation

There are strict time limits to file a wrongful death claim. There are different time limits depending on the circumstances. In most cases, the limitation period runs for 2 years from the date of death. If the cause of death was not apparent, the limitation period starts from the date the cause of death was first discovered.

  • Death Caused by Public Entities: The limitation period here is shorter. You only have 6 months from the date of death to file a notice of your wrongful death claim.  Once the public entity rejects your claim, you have only 6 months from the date of the rejection to file a lawsuit.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Always Here to Help

If you have lost a loved one as a result of someone’s negligence or deliberate acts of malice, you have the right to hold the guilty party responsible for your losses. A Bakersfield wrongful death attorney at West Coast Trial Lawyers will help you recover compensation for the losses you have suffered.

Contact us today by calling (661) 299-7554 or emailing [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.

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