Unless you’ve lost a loved one in a car wreck, you can never fully grasp the shock, sorrow, and overwhelming feelings that accompany such a tragedy. After experiencing this traumatic, life-altering experience, you may wonder how to cope and what steps are next. At the law offices of Dan Rose, we provide compassionate and experienced legal assistance to individuals and families affected by fatal car accidents. Oftentimes, a death in the family due to a car accident can be emotionally debilitating and financially destructive.
In the event a loved one perishes in a wrongful car accident death caused by another person’s recklessness and negligence, an experienced attorney can help you seek compensation from the at-fault party to cover expenses like funeral costs, preserve the family’s financial stability, and give your family some peace of mind.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
You may not be immediately contemplating finances after the death of a loved one, as in many circumstances, funeral and burial insurance are already in place to cover related expenses.
Although if a loved one is killed due to someone else’s negligence, the family really shouldn’t have to bear any of the costs like medical bills and funeral expenses.
You may wonder, “Can I receive compensation?” in the event a loved one has passed away due to a fatal collision.
In California, wrongful death is defined as a death resulting from the negligence of another individual or entity. Cases of wrongful death are civil in nature, and therefore, they are adjudicated (or processed) separately from any criminal charges. In these cases of vehicular manslaughter (due to drunk driving, for example), the criminal case is pursued independently from the wrongful death civil suit. Under just circumstances, guilty parties can be held criminally and civilly liable for the same incident.
Be aware that criminal charges do not have to be brought against the negligent party in a wrongful death case for the family to be eligible to pursue a wrongful death case. There are many possible circumstances for wrongful death claims, but auto accidents are the most common source of civil litigation of this sort.
Who Can Seek and Claim Compensation for a Loved One’s Death in a Car Accident?
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute, California was at the top of the list for the greatest number of fatal crashes for 2019. In the vast majority of cases, the surviving spouse, domestic partner, or child is the only heir. Even if the deceased did not have a spouse, domestic partner, or children, their parents or siblings might be eligible to file a claim as well as inherit property (if there is no spouse or domestic partner to claim it). Stepchildren may also be eligible to file a wrongful death claim, children of putative spouses, putative spouses, and parents.
What Kind of Damages Can You Recover?
If you file a wrongful death lawsuit, surviving family members (and individuals discussed above) may be entitled to certain financial damages.
Potential damages resulting from the wrongful death of a loved one may be:
- Maintaining the family’s finances and the loss of help completing household chores and services the deceased may have
- Each claimant’s expected loss of financial support
- The individual’s death causes an absence of affection and emotional support, resulting in emotional duress, pain, and suffering for the claimant(s).
- Individual expenses due to a loved one’s death, such as funeral costs
Note: death claims differ from claims by a deceased person’s estate; however, both types of claims may exist simultaneously according to the circumstances.
Is there a Statute of Limitations?
When a loved one dies suddenly, the grieving process takes precedence. When you’re mourning the loss of a loved one, it is understandably jarring and difficult to consider taking legal action; however, the statute of limitations does exist. California has a statute of limitations to sue (or be sued), which is two years from the date of injury or death. A wrongful death claim’s success may often be dependent on obtaining skilled and professional representation. You are entitled to total and just compensation, but it can take years to pursue a claim. Bearing in mind how complex these cases can be, it is critical to consult with a skilled and trusted attorney after the wrongful death of a loved one. Take advantage of a complimentary consultation today with an experienced attorney at The Dan Rose Law Offices.