Please be advised that the following topic is for informational purposes only and not a legal matter currently handled by our firm. If you need further assistance regarding this particular topic, you can contact your local Bar Association for a referral to an attorney who may be able to address your inquiry in more detail.
Los Angeles has seen a sharp rise in traffic deaths. LA’s car accident fatalities increased 24% in a single year, with bicyclist and pedestrian deaths rising too. This trend isn’t confined to LA or California. Traffic fatalities are up across the state and the nation due to a pandemic-related increase in dangerous behaviors like intoxicated driving, reckless driving, and speeding. Personal injury lawyers are now seeing an increase in wrongful death claims from families that have been devastated by losing loved ones in traffic accidents. During a time of tragedy, these families try to find a measure of justice and healing through the legal system.
Public works projects, including San Francisco’s Vision Zero, are attempting to turn the tide and eliminate fatalities. While these projects have had considerable success, the rising rate of traffic deaths seems to have no end in sight.
Wrongful Death Claims Arising From Traffic Deaths
Almost 300 pedestrians and non-motorists are now dying every year in Los Angeles traffic accidents. This means there are thousands of family members and friends who have been left behind to mourn these losses and figure out what to do next.
If you’re one of these loved ones, you may have the legal standing to start a wrongful death case. Below are the criteria for starting a claim, including who is eligible to receive wrongful death compensation.
How Does Wrongful Death Compensation Work?
A successful wrongful death claim involves proving three main things about the situation and who is at fault.
You must show:
- The deceased person suffered injuries that contributed to their death.
- The injuries arose due to someone else’s negligence.
- The negligent person or entity did something that resulted in the person’s death.
Often, an individual is pursued as the negligent party in a wrongful death claim. Sometimes, the negligent party is an organization like a private company, public agency, association, or another type of entity that isn’t a single person.
In terms of who has the legal standing to pursue a wrongful death case, this is spelled out in the California Wrongful Death Statute. Civil legal proceedings after an individual’s death can only be initiated by certain surviving people.
- Domestic partners
- Legal guardians
Most commonly, surviving spouses, partners, and children start wrongful death claims because they suffer the most substantial losses in the situation. Of course, every situation is unique and your ability to start a wrongful death claim depends on the circumstances.
What’s Covered in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death claims involve economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are direct monetary costs while non-economic damages include the losses of things like relationships and lifestyle enjoyment.
Recoverable damages may include:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Lost income from the deceased
- Gifts the deceased would have given
- Loss of companionship and support
- Other damages as the court instructs
The average per capita income in California is about $76,000 per year, and lost income is a form of damages that can be covered in a wrongful death claim. So are burial and funeral costs, which average at least $2,700 and $7,000 respectively for a total cost of about $10,000.
You can see how the costs add up to enormous losses for the surviving family in a wrongful death case. The emotional losses are considerable for a loving spouse who lost everything when they lost their partner.
There are also other ways to maximize the value of a wrongful death case and ensure you receive everything you deserve under the law. For example, additional damages are often recoverable when a survival action is brought in conjunction with a wrongful death claim.
We Can Help With Your Wrongful Death Claim
Contact the attorney team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of personal injury law, including wrongful death claims, and we’re here for you with experience and compassion. Call 877-380-8852 today for a free case evaluation.