Understanding Wrongful Death Claims in California
Experiencing the loss of a loved one due to an avoidable accident is a distressing event. When that accident is a result of someone else’s negligence, coping with the aftermath can seem insurmountable. A wrongful death lawsuit might be a way to find some semblance of closure. Continue reading to learn more, and then reach out to Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909-982-0707 for a complimentary legal consultation.
What Constitutes Wrongful Death Claims?
Wrongful death claims entail more than the mere death of an individual. It is a civil lawsuit distinct from a state-initiated criminal case, where the penalty is not imprisonment, but financial. A significant difference between such civil claims and criminal claims is the burden of proof. In criminal cases, guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, while a civil claim merely requires a preponderance of evidence.
What Criteria Must Be Met for a Wrongful Death Claim?
Several elements must be demonstrated for a wrongful death claim to be substantiated. These include verifying that a death occurred, that the death was a result of another person’s actions or intent to harm, and that the deceased’s family members suffered financial hardship as a consequence of the death.
What Constitutes Wrongful Death Cases?
An intentional act resulting in death, such as murder or manslaughter, can be deemed wrongful death. However, killings that are legally justified, such as self-defense, do not qualify as wrongful death. Negligent driving resulting in a fatal accident, such as speeding or ignoring traffic lights, can be categorized as wrongful death.
Medical malpractice can also lead to wrongful death. This could include erroneous prescription medications, surgical mistakes, or failure to correctly diagnose a medical condition. Product defects, including unsafe products, contaminated food, and faulty machinery, can all be grounds for wrongful death lawsuits. A death related to work—particularly if it was caused by a third party—may also qualify as wrongful death.
Who is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Not everyone can file a wrongful death claim. Under California law, those entitled to inherit property from the deceased in the absence of a will, or those acting as personal representatives of the deceased’s estate, generally have the right to file a claim. For instance, this would typically encompass the spouse and children of the deceased. Parents could only make a claim if they were financially dependent on the deceased.
If you need more information about wrongful death cases, want to determine your eligibility to file one, or wish to understand potential compensation, we recommend contacting Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909-982-0707 for a complimentary legal consultation. We are ready to assist you during this challenging period.