Oak Park Wrongful Death Lawyer
Injuries are a part of life. We’ve all been injured at some point in our lives, whether it’s a skinned knee from falling off a skateboard or whiplash from an automobile accident. Accidents that cause minor-to-serious injuries, or even death, can happen anywhere, including your close-knit town of Oak Park. When someone is careless or commits an intentional act that results in another party’s death, the deceased party’s surviving immediate family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Wrongful death claims address the very real financial and emotional injuries that are caused to others when someone close to them is killed and may be filed against individuals, institutions, companies, and other parties whose actions led to that death. Since these claims are quite complicated, not to mention emotionally charged for survivors, you should always work with an Oak Park wrongful death lawyer at Walch Law to ensure your interests are protected and your settlement is maximized.
The following is a primer on wrongful death claims and how they work in California, including who has standing, how liability is established, and specific damages that may be claimed.Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
Not everyone who’s close to the deceased party may file a wrongful death party. These claims are meant to compensate individuals who suffered real losses as a result of the death, which typically includes those who were financially dependent on that individual or shared an intimate relationship with them. Spouses are the most common plaintiffs for these claims but not the only ones with legal standing to file them.
Under California civil law, parties with the following relationships to the deceased may file a wrongful death claim:
- Surviving spouse or domestic partner
- Surviving children
- If none of the above apply, then anyone who would be entitled to the decedent’s estate (such as parents or siblings) may file a claim
- Anyone who can prove they were financially dependent on the decedent
If you’ve lost someone close to you, it may seem awkward to come up with a dollar amount representing your losses. However, these claims are limited to financial compensation and, of course, there’s no way to bring back your lost loved one. Your Oak Park wrongful death lawyer will know how best to proceed with your claim and will give you the space you need to mourn your loss.Liability for Wrongful Death: The Basics
Liability for a wrongful death claim will depend on a number of factors. If a party’s negligence was the cause of death, then establishing liability will start by proving that this party had a duty of care to the deceased and breached this duty. This means they had a legal responsibility to, for example, pay attention to pedestrians in the roadway. Plaintiffs also will need to prove actual damages (losses) from that person’s death, such as loss of financial support or loss of companionship. If there is an underlying criminal act, such as impaired driving or even something intentional such as murder, then it may be easier to establish civil liability. If a company was negligent in the design of a product that killed someone, then they may be held strictly liable for wrongful death.
Wrongful death claims must satisfy the following elements in order to prevail:
- A human died
- This death was caused either by another's negligence or intent to cause harm
- Surviving family members are suffering monetary injury as a result of the death
- A personal representative for the decedent's estate has been appointed
Just make sure you don’t accept any early settlement offers the defendant (at fault party) may try to push, since there’s a good chance it doesn’t fully assess your losses. Talk to your attorney first.Damages for California Wrongful Death Claims
If an immediate family member or some other individual close to you has died as the result of another party’s liability, you will need to show actual damages and express them in terms of monetary value. These are called damages and can sometimes be abstract in nature (such as “pain and suffering” in more common injury claims). Damages you may claim in a wrongful death claim include (but aren’t limited to) the following:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost financial support
- Loss of household services
- Loss of companionship, affection, and intimacy
Your losses will never be fully compensated but you shouldn’t also bear the financial burden of losing someone close to you, especially if you depend on their financial support. You have the right to file a wrongful death claim when another party is liable but you should consider working with legal counsel. The seasoned professionals at the Law Offices of Gary K. Walch, a Law Corporation can help you. We know this is a hard time and are here to make things easier for you and your family.