When a loved one is taken from us, especially by a senseless accident, we may be filled with feelings like rage and sadness at our sense of loss.
There’s no way to replace the loved one and nothing you do will ever bring them back, but the law allows us to get justice in the only way it can.
That is by filing a lawsuit against the negligent party. While money can never replace your loved one, it’s one of the few ways that the law allows us to get compensation for our loss.
Understanding Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Wrongful death lawsuits are an extension of personal injury law. Different states have different rules concerning how wrongful death lawsuits are litigated. Typically, they are brought on behalf of those surviving the deceased or the deceased’s estate.
In California, certain surviving members of the deceased’s family may bring a lawsuit against a negligent party. However, the statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits is 2 years. Any lawsuits brought forth after two years are almost always dismissed without ever seeing a jury.
Factors Involved in Calculating Losses
Surviving loved ones are allowed to collect on any of the following damages:
- Loss of companionship and emotional distress,
- Loss of services to the household which includes damages for loss of income. This is calculated based on the age of the deceased minus that average life expectancy and their anticipated earning power
- Loss of sexual relationship with the deceased,
- Burial and funeral expenses,
- Medical bills related to the defendant’s negligence,
In certain instances, individual plaintiffs can collect for individual injuries to them suffered because of the loss of the deceased, like the loss of consortium in the case of a spouse.
Who is At-Fault for the Accident?
When you sue an individual who responsible for the death of a loved one, especially in a situation as common as a car accident, they are typically carrying auto insurance that pays out damages to the victim. In this case, auto insurance has minimum policies in California of $15,000 for bodily injuries or the death of an individual.
This is extremely low compared to the life of your loved one. Therefore your attorney will look at all avenues for compensation. This includes looking at the third party driver but the possibility of the driver working at the time of the accident.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist’s coverage may be sought from the deceased’s insurance company if the negligent driver does not have or has low insurance limits. Finally, your attorney will investigate whether there could be a governmental claim.
This could be for design defect in the road construction or lack of appropriate traffic devices. If there is a governmental claim, the statute of limitations is 6 months to bring a claim against the proper city, county, or state agency.
In other words, how much you can collect depends entirely on who caused the accident and why.
Contact a California Wrongful Death Attorney
If a loved one has been taken from you due to the negligence of another person, call the personal injury attorneys at Beliz Law Firm. We will fight tirelessly to ensure that you are compensated for your loss. Give us a call at (562) 452-3772 or contact us online and we can begin discussing your case immediately.