Losing a loved one is difficult to cope with. It is common for many people to feel an overwhelming amount of pain and sadness, especially at the thought of never being able to see them again. Although filing a wrongful death claim can help bring closure and compensation, a lot goes into making the claim successful.
Wrongful death claims in California are governed by the Code of Civil Procedure. This code preserves the right of a survivor of a wrongfully killed person (a decedent) to sue for redress after such death. The suit is not on behalf of the decedent though. It is directly for the benefit of the survivor and is meant to compensate them for loss they have suffered due to the wrongful death.
Of course, being entitled to sue and succeeding in your lawsuit are often two very different propositions. This is why it is important to get a qualified Los Angeles wrongful death attorney involved in the case as early as possible. This way you have the best opportunity of securing the outcome you desire.
At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our expert Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys are readily available to legally represent those who have lost their loved ones due to wrongful death. With our track record of winning more than $1 billion in settlements for our clients, we are confident that we will deliver a good outcome to your case.
Wrongful death claims can arise from varying circumstances. It would ordinarily arise when a person is killed due to an avoidable accident or in instances of an intentional wrongful act done by another person.
Some of the instances where such a claim can arise include the following:
In any one of these situations, you would be entitled to file a wrongful death claim as the survivor of the decedent. Although this would depend on whether you are listed as one of those that have the right to sue under the Code of Civil Procedure.
Depending on the circumstances, you may also be able to file a survival action on behalf of the estate of the decedent. Once you meet with your wrongful death attorney, they will be able to explain if your case meets the criteria for an additional survival action.
In order to succeed in your wrongful death claim though, there are several elements that must be shown.
The elements that must be proven in a wrongful death claim are those legal hurdles that should be crossed in the case. They are basically legal criteria that must be shown in your case.
However, this does not mean that once the elements are shown to exist in your case, it is automatically successful. Nobody can tell with certainty if your case will end up successful as there are many variables involved. But it is certain that if these elements are not present in your claim, your chances of succeeding will be much slimmer.
There are three basic elements that you are expected to show. We will explain them one after the other below.
Although this seems obvious, it is still an element that must be proven to the court. Ordinarily, death will be proven by the aid of a death certificate issued by the relevant county coroner.
While proving death will be pretty straightforward in some cases, in other cases, it can be quite tricky. This is because there are some situations where it will not be clear whether death has occurred.
For instance, if a plane was carrying your loved one and it goes missing, there will be a bit of a question mark over the death. Until the destroyed pieces of the plane are recovered or a body is found, it will be almost impossible to tell whether death has occurred.
In some situations, a person may be legally declared dead if the requisite amount of time has passed without them showing up alive. This goes to show that proof of death is not always straightforward.
If death is proven, it must then be shown to have been caused by the intentional, reckless, or negligent act of the defendant. In showing this, three areas of proof are often important: duty of care, breach of duty of care, and causation arising from that breach.
After all the elements listed above have been proven, you must then show that you have suffered a loss due to the death of the decedent. This is often a tricky part of wrongful death claims because the proof you provide here must be compelling.
In some cases, it can be easy to show loss here. For instance, if the decedent was your spouse and provided significant financial support for the household, you have a clear case of loss. You would be able to show the financial hardship that the death has caused to your family.
Other losses you can prove include the loss of love and affection you would have continued to enjoy from the decedent. Loss of physical support, guidance, protection, and inheritance are other losses you can prove. Importantly, you can also prove any expenses you have incurred as a result of the death, such as funeral or burial costs.
West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help
If you have lost a loved one due to negligent actions committed by another party, our expert team of wrongful death attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers will help you recover compensation for damages you have suffered. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and more.