No one wants to receive that call, the one telling you that someone close to you has been in a fatal accident. Although the sheer emotional grief can be overwhelming enough on its own, if someone else is responsible for your loved one’s death, you might find the news even more difficult to accept.
Filing a wrongful death claim
Wrongful death claims are handled in a civil capacity, rather than in a criminal court. However, if someone committed a crime that took your loved one’s life, the evidence from the criminal case may be used in a civil wrongful death claim. For a wrongful death claim to proceed, certain factors must be present. Those basic factors are:
- Surviving family: To proceed with a wrongful death claim, there must be surviving family members, such as a spouse, child or parent.
- Liability: It will be necessary to prove that the other party is culpable for the accident, whether for his or her negligent driving actions or other wrongful actions.
- Damages: A wrongful death claim should show the extent to which the death has an impact on your life. There may be monetary damages and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, to consider.
Seeking advice from an attorney with regard to these and all other aspects of the case can help you decide how to proceed.
Although you, as a close family member, may be the one pursuing a wrongful death claim, a representative of the estate may be the one who files the claim on your behalf.
To learn more about these matters, please see our overview of wrongful death claims in California.