Every year, over 173,000 people die from accidental injuries in the US. Accidents, whether they are car accidents, accidents at work, result from defective products, or slips and falls, make up the third leading cause of death in the US.
If your loved one has died as the result of the negligence of another person or as a result of the actions of another person, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A successful wrongful death case can help you get a settlement that will compensate you for the lost support of your loved one.
Read on to learn more about wrongful death suits in San Diego.
Common Causes of Wrongful Deaths
Wrongful death suits aren’t for people who die of disease, old age, or natural causes. Instead, they are meant for people who died because someone else failed to act, acted in a negligent manner, or acted in a criminal manner.
- Car accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Accidents at work
- Defective products
- Premises liability
- Medical malpractice
You also may file a wrongful death suit if your loved one died as a result of the criminal actions of another person, such as assault that results in death or homicide. This would be a separate case than any criminal charges that person is facing, as it would be filed in civil court.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
California has rules surrounding who can file a wrongful death suit. Not just anyone can file. In order to be eligible, you must be one of the following:
If you are the surviving spouse or domestic partner, you can file a wrongful death suit. A “putative” spouse may also file a wrongful death lawsuit. A putative spouse is someone who believes that they were in a valid marriage and is financially dependent on the deceased person.
Biological or adoptive children can file wrongful death suits as well. Stepchildren also can file, as long as they were financially dependent on the deceased person at that time of their death. A minor who was not the child of the deceased, but resided with them for at least 180 days before their death and got at least 50% of their financial support from them may also have the right to file a wrongful death suit.
If your adult child has no spouse, children, or other descendants, you can file a wrongful death suit. Even if they do have descendants, parents can bring a suit if they were financially dependent on the deceased.
If there are no parents or children surviving the deceased person, other family members who would have legally inherited their estate if there was no will can file a wrongful death claim.
There also can be multiple people who are eligible to file this suit. In this case, one designated person could bring forward the case and then distribute any settlement to the other eligible parties accordingly. This is easier than having multiple claimants and multiple attorneys all trying to vie for a piece of the settlement.
What Damages Can You Recover?
A wrongful death claim can result in both economic and non-economic damages. Common damages include:
- Funeral, burial, or cremation costs
- Medical expenses incurred as a result of the injury, prior to the person’s death
- Lost income (including the potential lost wages over their lifetime)
- Loss of household services (such as chores or childcare that the deceased person provided)
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium (e.g., companionship from a spouse)
- Education expenses
- Loss of parental guidance and nurturing for children
- Punitive damages
An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to help you estimate an adequate compensation amount considering all of these losses and the expenses incurred as a result of the death of your loved one.
Who Can Be Sued for Wrongful Death?
Anyone who is responsible for a person’s death may be named in a wrongful death suit. In some circumstances, there may be multiple people involved and named in a lawsuit. Common individuals who may be named in a wrongful death suit include:
- The driver of another vehicle who is at fault for the accident
- The employer or owner of a trucking company when a truck driver causes an accident
- The manufacturer of a defective product
- A bartender who overserves a patrol who then causes an accident
- The owner of a business who did not take proper safety precautions
- The person who commits an assault that results in death
- A doctor who has a duty of care for a patient and there is a breach of this duty that results in death
Some people may be immune from a wrongful death suit, however, such as a government agency or their employees.
How to File a Wrongful Death Suit
To file a wrongful death suit, you need to make sure you are eligible to file the suit and ensure that you are within the statute of limitations. It is best to speak to an attorney who specializes in these types of cases, as they will be able to advise you if you have a case.
Before you contact an attorney, you can prepare by gathering documents that will help the lawyer assess your case. Things to gather include:
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Information from any witnesses, including their contact information
- Surveillance camera footage
- Photos of the scene, your injuries, or property damage
Your attorney will also gather their own evidence to support your case, but this basic information can help them determine if you have a strong case to move forward.
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney in San Diego Today
If you think that your loved one was killed in an accident that was the fault of someone else, you should contact a wrongful death attorney today. They will help you get compensation for the economic and non-economic damages incurred as a result of the death.
If you are in need of a wrongful death attorney, contact the Sweet Law attorneys today. We can provide a free case consultation.