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How does California law define wrongful death?

On Behalf of | Jun 30, 2022 | Wrongful Death |

Even in cases where a loved one has been ill for a long time, it is never possible to be 100% prepared for his or her death. Sadly, many California residents have experienced the unexpected, sudden and, sometimes, violent deaths of their loved ones. Grief is intense in such circumstances, especially if the death was caused by another person’s negligence, recklessness or malice.  

There is no way to replace the loss of a family member’s life. However, a sudden death not only causes emotional trauma in a family, but it can also spark financial distress, especially regarding funeral expenses, medical bills for care that may have been provided before the person’s death and other issues. If there are grounds to do so, an immediate family member may act on behalf of a decedent to file a wrongful death claim in a civil court.  

What constitutes a wrongful death? 

To file a wrongful death claim in court, certain elements must present. Such elements are shown in the following list:  

  • A person (not animal) died.  
  • The death was a result of another person’s negligence or intent. 
  • A surviving family member has suffered damages because of the death. 
  • The plaintiff has been appointed to represent the decedent’s estate. 

Various types of situations may lead to someone filing a wrongful death claim, including but not limited to motor vehicle collisions, medical injuries, criminal activity or workplace accidents.  

Keeping stress to a minimum during wrongful death proceedings 

A person who files a wrongful death claim in a California court must provide evidence to show that the defendant owed the decedent a duty and was negligent in that duty and caused the decedent’s death in the process. The court will want to consider all factors before deciding, which means the decedent’s death will be a central focus of the proceedings. It is less stressful for family members to have an experienced personal injury law attorney act on their behalf than to navigate court proceedings without legal representation.