Losing a loved one is an incredibly painful experience. Not only does such a loss cause extreme emotional pain, but it can also result in other losses that can leave you and your family put out, such as financial losses and the loss of help supporting the family. While a wrongful death claim cannot bring your loved one back or help you grieve their loss emotionally, it can make moving on financially a little easier. In this article, we’ll provide more information to help you understand what to expect from a wrongful death settlement and how to maximize the compensation you receive to ensure the best possible outcome.
If you still have questions after reading this and need help filing a wrongful death claim in California, our legal team at Sally Morin is ready to assist you. Give us a call at 877-380-8852 or visit us online to schedule a free consultation.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a civil action brought against a negligent party by the survivors of the person who died as a result of that party’s negligence. Wrongful death claims can be filed for many reasons, such as deaths in car accidents, premises liability, nursing home abuse, or even medical malpractice. To win the wrongful death case, the filing survivor must prove that the other party’s negligence was the direct cause of the death of their loved one.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
In California, the law allows only certain surviving family members or loved ones to file a wrongful death claim and recover compensation. These include:
- Surviving spouses
- Surviving domestic partners
- Surviving children
- Surviving step-children
- Surviving parents
- Surviving siblings
- Other surviving dependents
The damages these survivors can recover compensation for when they file fall into two categories:
Economic damages: These are the monetary losses suffered as a result of losing the loved one, which can include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses
- Loss of financial support
Non-economic damages: These are the non-monetary losses and can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of love and companionship
- Loss of support for household duties
- Loss of parental guidance
- Loss of childcare
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim
To file and pursue a wrongful death claim, you will need to prove the following three factors existed:
- Your loved one suffered injuries that contributed to their death.
- The injuries were the result of someone else’s negligence (the party you are filing against).
- The injuries caused by the negligence were the reason your loved one died.
How to Maximize Compensation for Wrongful Death Claims
In addition to the above, you must also establish that the party you are filing against owed your loved one a duty of care and that they breached this duty by acting negligently. For example, drivers owe other drivers a duty of care. In other words, they must operate their vehicle with reasonable care so as not to cause harm to others. If your loved one died in a car accident, you would establish fault and negligence by proving that the driver who hit your loved one owed them a duty of care.
You must also prove that the negligent party’s breach of their duty was the direct cause of the death of your loved one and that your loved one, as well as yourself as the survivor, suffered damages as a result of the injuries and the death.
Once you have established grounds for filing a wrongful death claim, you will then need to take certain steps to maximize the compensation you recover. Just because you are entitled to compensation as a surviving loved one does not mean you will automatically be awarded the full and fair compensation you deserve.
To maximize your wrongful death claim compensation, you should take the following steps:
- Keep detailed records: Keep records of everything related to the death of your loved one and anything impacted by their death, such as medical bills, funeral expenses, income statements, and even marriage contracts. This information will be necessary to help show the extent of your financial losses and suffering as a result of the death.
- Gather evidence: Evidence that further supports what happened and how your loved one died can also help. This includes medical records, witness testimonies, police reports, and even photos or videos showing what happened (i.e. photos from the scene of the car accident).
- Avoid accepting offers without legal counsel: The insurance company involved will likely try to offer you a quick settlement, which is typically much lower than what you actually deserve. It’s important that you do not accept this offer and speak to an attorney. A lawyer can help you build a much stronger case and handle negotiations with the insurance company to ensure that you are fully and fairly awarded for all damages and losses.
Sally Morin Wrongful Death Attorneys
If you have lost a loved one in California due to someone else’s negligent actions, our team can assist you in filing your claim. We understand how devastating the loss of a loved one can be and are here to help. Our team knows what it takes to stand up to insurance companies and can help you maximize your claim by negotiating a higher settlement award.
Call our San Francisco wrongful death lawyers at 877-380-8852 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.