Elements of Wrongful Death Claim in California
Wrongful death in personal injury parlance means a death cause by an accident or negligence by another person or intentional act by the person at fault.
There are many causes for wrongful death of a loved one, but the main cause of most deaths is due to negligence, which includes vehicle accident resulting from car accident, bicycle accident, motorcycle accident, bus accident, train accident, aviation accident or boating accident. In premise liability accidents, wrongful death may result from slip and fall accident, trip and fall accident, burn accident, explosion and fire accident and even dog bite or animal attacks.
If your loved one dies as a result of any of the foregoing accidents, you and your immediately family have the right to file wrongful death claims against the party at fault. Wrongful death claim is an action by the family members or heirs of the deceased who died as a result of traffic accident, premise accident or other personal injury accident caused by the negligence of another.
However, before you decided to file a claim against the party at fault for wrongful death, you must first understand that there are elements you need to prove in order to be successful with your claim. The three elements of a successful wrongful death accident claim are:
- (1) proof of death of your loved one;
- (2) death was caused by the negligence or willful intent of the party at fault;
- (3) proof of loss of love and affection, financial support and pain and pain and suffering.
Death Caused by Negligence
Before you are able to file a claim against the party at fault you must first prove that your loved one died because of the accident or because of the negligence of another person and not because of pre-existing condition or other causes. One good example is death of your loved one while a patient at a hospital. If your loved one died in the hospital you must prove that his or her death was not because of her pre-existing condition like cancer. If your loved one’s cancer was just stage one and he died because of providing the wrong treatment then the medical provider is liable for wrongful death damages. If however, your loved one died of stage 4 cancer, you may need to sue the person or entity who caused the cancer, like exposure to asbestos or other cancerous substances at work. Then your claim should be wrongful death against the employer and not the medical provider.
Determination of Negligence or Willful Act
Aside from proving that your loved one did not die of natural causes but because of the act of another, the next thing you should prove is if that person acted through negligence or with direct intent. In either case the person is liable for wrongful death damages but you must prove the actual act committed by the party at fault before you can make him liable for damages. Negligent death can easily be proved if your loved one figured in an accident like car accident or pedestrian accident. However, in case of death through fire or due to medical malpractice, you need to prove that the other part was either negligent or intentionally harmed your loved one by reason of mal intent or motive.
This will be the crux of your evidence, your losses. In filing for wrongful death claims, the amount of award you will get depends on your evidence presented to show the actual and prospective losses you suffered and will suffer as a result of your loved one’s demise. Aside from medical and burial expenses you obviously lost love and affection and support of your loved one and although you cannot put a price on a person’s life you can at least put a price on the damages suffered by the people who were left behind.
As you can see it is not easy to pursue wrongful death claims. Hence, in case your family member dies due to the fault of another you should immediately seek legal advice from top personal injury attorneys in California who will fight for your rights regardless of the actual value of your claims.