Calculating Damages in Your Wrongful Death Case
It is never easy to lose a loved one – especially if they died in an accident that was preventable. When fatal accidents occur because of someone else’s error, omission, or intentional act, you and other surviving family members may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim seeking various damages.
Although no amount of money can ever bring back a lost loved one, favorable wrongful death damages can bring about a sense of closure and justice for you and other surviving family members.
If you think you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit on behalf of a lost loved one, it is important that you talk with a compassionate OC wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can determine your eligibility for filing a claim – or a lawsuit in the court system. If you are eligible, your attorney can pursue the damages that you and your family members deserve to recover for your loss.
Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
Several categories of surviving family members are eligible to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit in California. Those family members include domestic partners, children of the decedent, surviving spouses, and grandchildren in the event the decedent’s own children have also passed away. In some instances, stepchildren can also assert a wrongful death claim or file a lawsuit for damages.
Surviving family members can pursue the claim by themselves, or they can open an estate through the courts. Once an estate is opened, the court will name a personal representative (PR) to oversee the estate. If a wrongful death claim or a lawsuit is necessary, the personal representative will file it on behalf of the estate.
A knowledgeable California wrongful death attorney in your area can determine if you or other family members are eligible to file a wrongful death claim. If so, your lawyer can help you open an estate and submit the necessary documents to recover monetary compensation in the case.
Negotiating a Wrongful Death Claim
In most instances, a surviving family member or PR files a wrongful death claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If the adjuster handling the claim accepts liability for the occurrence, they might make an initial offer to settle. However, in most wrongful death claims, initial insurance company offers are far below the actual claim value.
A skilled California wrongful death attorney in your area can negotiate with the adjuster on your behalf and pursue a better offer by highlighting the claim’s strengths. If a better offer is not forthcoming, your lawyer can file a wrongful death lawsuit in court and, if necessary, litigate your case to a conclusion – either at a civil jury trial or a binding arbitration hearing.
Recoverable Wrongful Death Damages
Wrongful death damages are available when claimants can establish the legal elements of their wrongful death claim. First, the claimant must show that another person or entity acted wrongfully, meaning another person committed a negligent, reckless, or intentional act or omission. Moreover, they must demonstrate that the at-fault party’s negligent act or omission caused the accident, which in turn led to their loved one’s untimely death.
The claims-filing and litigation processes for a wrongful death case are essentially the same as in an ordinary personal injury claim or lawsuit. However, wrongful death claimants may be eligible to recover different damages, depending upon their individual circumstances.
First, a wrongful death claimant may be eligible to recover compensation for the decedent’s funeral and burial expenses. If they depended upon the deceased individual for income, they could calculate the decedent’s anticipated future lost income – based upon their past earnings – and recover those damages.
Next, the claimant can recover monetary compensation for the pain and suffering that the decedent endured between the time of the accident and their untimely death. The more the decedent suffered, the higher the damages may be.
Finally, surviving family members may recover monetary damages for the loss of the decedent’s ongoing comfort, care, and companionship, based on their own testimony regarding their relationship with the decedent.
Call a California Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
If you lost a loved one in an accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence or intentional act, a compassionate Orange County wrongful death attorney in your area could determine your eligibility for filing a claim or lawsuit. Your lawyer will do everything possible to help you obtain the justice you deserve and recover the wrongful death damages you need.