The death of a loved one is often sad and difficult no matter the circumstances. Even if a person’s passing is imminent, when the moment arrives, it may still feel surprising and painful. However, when a person dies because of someone else’s reckless or negligent actions or someone’s intent to cause injury, family members may be left struggling with the loss. For many in California, a successful wrongful death claim may bring some closure and much-needed financial assistance following a tragedy.
A wrongful death claim allows one to seek compensation from another person whose misconduct resulted in a family member’s death. This is a civil action and separate from a criminal proceeding, although many cases of wrongful death occur following a criminal trial. In a wrongful death case, the standard of proof is considerably lower than a criminal trial. Instead of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the family must establish that someone else’s negligent or reckless actions resulted in a death that left survivors suffering measurable damages.
Those damages may include the loss of the income of the deceased, the loss of the services the deceased once provided to the family, funeral expenses and any final medical bills the deceased incurred. However, the family may also seek compensation for the loss of the loved one’s companionship and affection. An insurance claim may not be enough to cover these and other losses.
Many circumstances may lead to a wrongful death claim, including a motor vehicle accident, criminal behavior or a medical error, among others. Death that occurs from exposure to workplace hazards may also be cause for a lawsuit. Surviving family members may consult with a California attorney to learn if the circumstances surrounding their loved one’s death entitles them to bring legal action against those whose misconduct resulted in tragedy.