Westlake Village Wrongful Death Lawyer
You, your spouse, and a few friends wanted to take a water taxi to the clubhouse to avoid driving after having cocktails, which is something you do every weekend in Westlake Village. But you had no idea your trip would end in tragedy. You know now that the boat was only supposed to carry six passengers, but the driver waved all nine of you onto the boat. After hitting a rough patch of wake, the boat tipped sideways and your husband fell into the water. The weight of his clothing pulled him under and he drowned before you were able to help him.
Accidents happen, but there was a reason for the water taxi’s six-person limit. An experienced Westlake Village wrongful death lawyer at Walch Law discusses your legal options and suggests you may have a strong case against the company that operates the taxi service. The following is an overview of wrongful death claims, including who has standing for these types of suits and the various types of damages you may claim.Who has Standing to File a California Wrongful Death Claim?
It may seem odd to put a monetary value on the loss of a loved one; after all, no amount of money will bring back your husband. But wrongful death claims are meant to compensate for the losses sustained by loved ones and family members, including (but not limited to) their financial support. So, while your husband obviously can’t file suit, certain parties have what is called standing to file a claim. In the example above, you have standing because you lost your partner and the value he brought to your life.
Only 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
Insurance companies often try to entice plaintiffs with quick cash settlements for injury claims (including wrongful death) in an attempt to keep payments low and close cases early. It’s in your best interests to speak with Robert and Gary Walch first, though, since you may not fully realize the extent of your damages (monetary claims pertaining to the other party’s liability) at the outset. Accepting a low ball insurance claim means that is all you will ever get for the accident—don’t make the mistake of taking money before talking to us!!Westlake Village Wrongful Death Claims and Liability
The water taxi driver shouldn’t have allowed more than the six-person passenger limit, but assuming he’s just an employee it may be something the company routinely ignored. You don’t know that; but just by virtue of the employee/employer relationship, the company probably is liable for your husband’s death. Wrongful death claims also may be filed for intentional acts (such as homicide) or via strict liability (such as when a defective product is the cause of death). In this case, as in most, the defendants were negligent. Even if the driver acted on his own behalf, his employer still may be held liable.
To prove your negligence claim, you’ll need to illustrate that the plaintiff (the driver and the water taxi company) owed a duty of care to the deceased, such as limiting the passenger load to six per the safety regulations. If the court decides that a “reasonable person” would know or should have known that exceeding this limit could pose a serious safety risk, then they’d find the defendant liable.
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
The burden of proof for civil claims, including wrongful death, is “preponderance of the evidence.” This means it’s more likely than not that the defendant is liable. Criminal trials require the much higher “beyond a reasonable doubt” burden of truth, since they may be facing the loss of liberty, or prison time.Damages for Your Westlake Village Wrongful Death Claim
How much is your wrongful death case worth? Your Westlake Village wrongful death lawyer will be able to help you calculate your damages, which aren’t always so obvious to non-attorneys. These may include, but aren’t limited to:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost financial support
- Loss of household services
- Loss of companionship, affection, and intimacy
Wrongful death claims are difficult for a number of reasons, not least of which is the pain of reliving the loss of a loved one. A skilled attorney can help take the sting out of the process while making sure you get every penny to which you’re entitled. If you’ve lost a spouse or loved one, don’t leave your claim up to chance. Contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Gary K. Walch, a Law Corporation today and learn more. We know this time is tough and we are here to make things easier. Trust your wrongful death case to some of the best local lawyers near you and learn why we have so many happy clients. Get in touch with Walch Law now.