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Legal Insight on the Common Causes of a Wrongful Death, Proving Negligence, and Recoverable Compensation

San Francisco is no stranger to fatal accidents, with the most recent one involving 3 deadly motor vehicle crashes in one day. Each of these incidents involved multiple vehicles. As negligent drivers, riders, or cyclists continue to occupy the roads, it becomes a major risk factor for others nearby. If you lost a loved one due to a wrongful death, we extend our deepest condolences to you and your family.

At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our San Francisco wrongful death attorneys are committed to fight for your justice. We have over 60 years of collective legal experience in handling personal injury cases. With our track record of recovering more than $1 billion in settlements for our clients, we are confident that we will deliver a good outcome to your case.

Please do not hesitate to contact our 24/7 legal team by calling (415) 326-8794 or emailing [email protected] to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at our San Francisco personal injury law firm.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death in San Francisco

  • Car accidents. Car accidents can happen at any given moment. Unfortunately, many negligent drivers choose to ignore the rules of the road and perform reckless actions, such as speeding or texting and driving, which can trigger an accident. Most car accidents typically occur on highways. As previously mentioned, multiple fatal motor vehicle accidents occurred in one day. Two of the incidents took place on a highway. One driver was killed in a hit and run accident, while in the other incident, a pedestrian, who was walking into traffic, was struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle. The third incident took place on a street. It was a head-on collision that involved three vehicles. The accident was caused by a driver who crossed over a double solid line. One driver was killed while the others suffered mild to severe injuries.
  • Motorcycle accidents. Motorcycles, compared to standard cars, are small vehicles. Oftentimes, drivers may not notice a motorcyclist nearby and accidentally crash into them. It is always urged for drivers to make careful observations of the road prior to doing a lane change or turn. Drivers who are intoxicated will make it even more dangerous for a motorcyclist to pass by as the driver’s vision may be impaired from the substance(s) they have consumed. In San Francisco, a driver who was under the influence of alcohol caused a motorcycle accident, which resulted in the motorcyclist losing his life. These types of selfish decisions can ultimately cause innocent individuals to get seriously injured or killed.
  • Pedestrian accidents. Pedestrians are vulnerable when out on the street. Most of the time, a pedestrian will suffer from severe injuries or death when involved in an accident with a motor vehicle. San Francisco has experienced 12 pedestrian deaths in 2021. The most recent incident involved two vehicles that had collided and struck a pedestrian nearby. Unfortunately, the pedestrian was left in critical condition and could not be revived by the paramedics. He died at the scene of the accident.
  • Criminal violence.  In the first half of 2021, San Francisco has had an estimate of 119 crimes involving gun violence. Police officers have reportedly found more unregistered ghost guns than ever before, which does raise safety concerns for those living in or visiting San Francisco.

How to Prove a Wrongful Death

The plaintiff must show convincing proof of the defendant breaching their duty of care, which ultimately led to the death of their loved one. The legal standard for negligence in the state of California will consider the following three elements:

  • Duty of care. The plaintiff is expected to show proof of the defendant owing a duty of care to the deceased victim. For example, the defendant was disobeying road rules, such as exceeding the posted speed limit.
  • Breach of duty of care. The plaintiff must show proof of the defendant breaching their duty of care. For example, the defendant was going over 80 mph on a 55 mph road.
  • Causation. The plaintiff is required to show proof that the defendant’s breach of duty of care was the reason why the victim was killed. Following the previous examples, the defendant’s speeding is what caused the car accident that led to the wrongful death of the victim.

The plaintiff may also show proof of being financially and/or emotionally harmed as a result of the defendant’s actions. Again, following up with the examples above, the plaintiff must have evidence of suffering from financial and emotional burdens, such as costly medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, loss of earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering after the passing of their loved one.

Available Damages in a Wrongful Death Case

Damages will be distributed based on the type of loss the deceased victim’s heir(s) endured. If the plaintiff is successful in proving a wrongful death, then they will be granted economic and non-economic damages. 

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 bicyclist has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries. A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Financial support the decedent would have contributed to his or her family throughout their lifetimes
  • Loss of benefits or gifts the surviving family members would have received had the deceased not lost his or her life
  • Funeral and burial costs

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:

  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of moral support
  • Loss of training and guidance
  • Loss of affection
  • Loss of sexual relations

What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death?

The victim’s heir(s) are given two years, starting from the initial date of the death or discovery of the death, to file a lawsuit. If there is no lawsuit filed within this period of time, then the victim’s heir(s) will lose the right to file a claim. However, there are a few exceptions that may apply. The plaintiff must be:

  • A minor,
  • In jail,
  • Legally insane,
  • Living out-of-state, or
  • Disabled.

It is encouraged for those suffering the loss of a loved one to hire an experienced San Francisco personal injury attorney. The attorney will help strengthen your claim and make negotiations with insurance companies to get you the justice and compensation you deserve.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help

If your loved one was a victim of a wrongful death due to someone’s negligence, West Coast Trial Lawyers has experienced San Francisco wrongful death attorneys that will get you the justice you deserve. Our attorneys will help you recover financial and emotional compensation for damages such as emotional distress, lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and more.

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at our San Francisco personal injury law firm, please reach out to our 24/7 legal team by calling (415) 326-8794 or emailing [email protected].

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