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While compensation cannot bring your loved one back, it can help you to tie up loose ends. You could set money aside for children’s ongoing care and future college ambitions. Maybe there are medical bills to take care of or other debts that someone else in the family co-signed on and is now on the hook for. Funeral expenses can also get covered in a successful California wrongful death case.
However, to get these benefits, the family members must bring a wrongful death action and find proof. Working with an attorney can help you pinpoint the information you need. Experienced attorneys at Kreeger Law Firm may also help you spot discrepancies you might not have otherwise noticed.
What Is a California Wrongful Death?
This refers to a wrongful death case that qualifies under California’s guidelines. To qualify, the act of negligence typically must meet four requirements:
- The accused party owed the victim(s) a certain duty of care.
- The accused party breached this duty of care.
- The breach of care resulted in injuries that led to the death.
- The death of the loved one resulted in losses for the claimants.
To prove the accused party is responsible for the wrongful death, it becomes necessary to prove each requirement. One feeds right into the next, so this creates a process for claimants to follow.
Duty of Care
When people or organizations provide a product or service to an individual, they establish duty of care. In these instances, the party had a legal responsibility to help ensure no harm came to your loved one. There are several examples of this. The most common one that comes to mind is in a medical setting where health providers have a duty to help patients get well.
However, there are other instances of duty of care that people may not immediately think of, such as when purchasing a vehicle. The manufacturers have a responsibility to create a product that provides transportation without putting people at risk.
Breach of Duty
As the phrase implies, this occurs when responsible parties fail to fulfill their duties. Returning to the examples provided above, health care providers may have declined to see a person despite the family’s insistence that the individual was in need of immediate care.
For examples of car manufacturers breaching this duty, look no further than recalls and the incidents that lead to them. Companies often fail to spend enough time designing and testing vehicles in an effort to meet release deadlines. This can lead to safety issues such as malfunctioning seatbelts or failed brakes.
Cause of Death
For this step, claimants have to connect the dots between the breach of duty and the loss of their loved ones. In the health care example, the hospital’s failure to realize the family member was in need of urgent care led to the person’s death. However, the medical professionals may claim that once they examined the patient, it turned out there was nothing they could have done at the time.
Using the vehicle example, if brakes failed and drivers across the country kept running red lights due to an inability to stop, this could cost them not just their lives but that of other drivers, passengers, cyclists and even pedestrians. All of these incidents could get heaped at the manufacturer’s feet if experts prove brake failure was the reason for the accidents.
Losses for Claimants
The death of any family member can lead to losses for a family. The first come from expenses family members need to pay to wrap up the final affairs. Next, there is the loss of income the person brought to the family. The more of a provider role the person held, the more important this is.
However, even losing stay-at-home family members can lead to high costs. For instance, if the spouse lost was responsible for childcare, the widower or widow, in addition to grieving, may now need to pay up to $9,600 in daycare costs per child per year.
Are You Ready To File a California Wrongful Death Claim?
It is no easy decision to bring a wrongful death action against a person or organization. However, without doing so, you may not get the help you need to move forward. Many people and organizations try to escape liabilities whenever they can and rarely volunteer the full market value of a case — if they volunteer anything at all.The attorneys at Kreeger Law Firm can conduct a thorough review of your case to determine how much it’s worth. We can then walk you through the process of proving wrongful death and preparing your case for settlement or trial. To get started, give us a call at 916-891-1347.