When California residents are facing the stunning and painful news that a loved one has suffered catastrophic injury or death in a traffic accident, the grief can be overwhelming.
Not only will they have to handle the costs of medical procedures, rehabilitation, hospital stays, or funeral expenses, the surviving family may have difficulty recovering damages from insurance companies that deny or delay claims.
For Sacramento residents, it is important to know that there is legal support available not only to assist with insurance claims but also to pursue a civil lawsuit that may more adequately provide adequate compensation for injury and loss.
Pursuing a negligence claim
A wrongful death claim is a civil remedy for loss when the other party has caused injury due to negligence. A negligent act is a failure to behave with a standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise.
With respect to traffic accidents, negligence can take the form of distracted, impaired or drowsy driving, or aggressive or careless driving that breaks traffic laws and puts other drivers at risk.
Unlike a criminal proceeding, a civil lawsuit does not require the same standard of proof to be successful, and in a successful action, the plaintiff stands to receive financial compensation for injury or loss. Rather than proving charges beyond a reasonable doubt, a civil claim only requires a preponderance of the evidence.
In California, it is the personal representative of the estate of the deceased who would bring a wrongful death claim. The required elements for a successful claim are:
- The death of a person.
- Negligence of the other party or intent to harm.
- Financial injury to the surviving family.
- The appointment of the personal representative of the estate of the decedent.
What to expect from a wrongful death claim in California
California laws allow the surviving family to receive an award for compensation that addresses medical and funeral expenses, loss of financial support and companionship, and financial loss from contributions the deceased would have provided to the family if they had survived. The statute of limitations for filing a claim is 2 years.
While receiving financial compensation cannot bring a loved one back, it can provide some solace and make a difficult situation a little more bearable for the grieving family.