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100 Most Influential Lawyers in America
– the National Law Journal

Filing a wrongful death claim

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2021 | Personal Injury

When a loved one is unexpectedly taken away by a tragic event, the pain for those in the chain of connections to that individual is unbearable. For those left to pick up the pieces after a fatal accident that was caused by the negligence of another, finding not only emotional support but also financial resources can be challenging, especially when there has been a loss of income, costly medical bills and funeral expenses.

While insurance will supposedly cover some if not all of these costs, it is often difficult to get companies to pay, which adds to the already crushing grief family members feel. There are laws that guide the procedures for pursuing a wrongful death claim in each state which determine what compensation family members may receive.

For California residents, having the knowledgeable guidance of experienced personal injury attorneys can help them not only to stand up to the insurance companies, but also pursue financial compensation in a wrongful death claim.

Proving negligence or intent to harm

Wrongful death claims are pursued in civil court. Criminal cases require proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but in a civil trial, proof of responsibility for the death of another is based upon a preponderance of the evidence.

Claims may arise out of a number of circumstances, including vehicular accidents, occupational exposure to hazardous substances, bad faith health or life insurance denials, or medical malpractice.

The wrongful death suit will be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. The elements necessary to file a wrongful death suit are:

  • The death of a person
  • Another’s negligence or intent to do harm as the cause
  • The financial injury that the death has caused the surviving family
  • The appointment of a personal representative for the estate of the decedent

Pursuing a claim in California

Under California law, surviving family members may be able to receive compensation for medical and funeral expenses, loss of financial support and companionship, as well as the financial loss the deceased would have contributed to the family had they survived.

While a settlement will never bring a loved one back, it can ease the pain of loss and provide much needed closure for the grieving family.