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When Can You Make a Wrongful Death Claim?

In California, when an accident causes a fatality to occur, the death can sometimes be considered a wrongful death.  Certain family members of the deceased can pursue a civil case to obtain compensation for the economic and non-financial loss caused by the untimely death of their loved one. A wrongful death claim is an alternative to a personal injury claim that the deceased would have filed against those responsible for an accident, if the deceased had survived.  When Can You Make a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death damages are often very substantial damages because the amount of loss that occurs is very great when someone passes away too early. Close family members of the deceased victim need to get appropriate legal help so they can fight for full and fair compensation for their loss. An Irvine wrongful death lawyer at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can provide the aggressive and compassionate representation that family members of the deceased need and deserve.

When Can You Make a Wrongful Death Claim?

It is possible to make a wrongful death claim when someone’s untimely death occurred as a result of negligence, intentional wrongdoing, or any failure to fulfill a legal obligation or a legal duty. A wrongful death claim may arise:

  • After a motor vehicle crash. A driver who caused an accident can be sued. In some cases, the driver’s employer could also be sued, like when a truck driver or a professional driver causes an accident.
  • After medical negligence. Doctors, hospitals, clinics, and other care providers could have a medical malpractice claim made against them when their diagnostic failures or treatment errors caused a death to occur.
  • When a product is defective. When a product malfunctions and a death occurs, the victim’s loved ones can sue the manufacturer, distributor, supplier, and others who put the product out for public consumption.
  • When a dog attacks. The dog’s owner could be held responsible for an attack, especially if there were past signs the dog was aggressive or dangerous.
  • When a victim dies by violence due to negligent security. Property owners can be held responsible if they failed to provide reasonable or adequate security to keep visitors to their premises safe from harm.

These are just a few of many examples of situations in which it may be possible for a wrongful death claim to be made. In general, if a plaintiff can prove that there was a failure of reasonable care or of a legal obligation, and that this failure was the direct cause of the death, a plaintiff should be able to make a case.

A wrongful death claim can be filed in civil court. In many cases, wrongful death claims settle before the case proceeds to trial. However, some cases are decided by a jury. Having a good lawyer is important so you can put together a strong argument and substantial evidence showing the defendant who the claim is made against should be held legally liable for the death that has occurred.

Who Can Make a Wrongful Death Claim?

According to California Code of Civil Procedure section 377.60, a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased individual can be made by:

  • A surviving spouse or domestic partner.
  • A surviving child, grandchild, or other direct descendent of the deceased.
  • The persons who would be authorized to inherit the deceased’s property under intestate succession if there is no spouse, domestic partner, children, or direct descendants.
  • A minor who has been living with the deceased for at least 180 days before death and who was depending on the deceased for at least half of his or her financial support.

According to California Civil Jury Instructions 3921, those who make a claim are entitled to receive compensation for burial expenses, the reasonable value of household services the deceased was providing, the income the deceased would have provided, the loss of the companionship of the deceased, the loss of sexual relations with the deceased, and the loss of training and guidance the decease would have offered if not for the untimely death.

How an Irvine Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help

Do not try to handle your case on your own, and don’t wait too long to take legal action to get the compensation you deserve when any person or company has caused your loved one’s death through negligence or wrongdoing.

Give Brown & Charbonneau, LLP a call as soon as possible to speak with an Irvine wrongful death attorney who can assist you in making your case. You can reach us at (866)237-8129 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.