Elements of a California Wrongful Death Suit

family member at funeral service of wrongful death victim

In order for a wrongful death suit to be successful, there are certain elements that need to be present. It is important for the surviving family to understand all of these elements before pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit in California.

Element 1: Did the Wrongful Death of a Human Being Occur?

The answer to this question must be yes. A death had to have occurred and must be proven to have been caused directly by the actions of someone else, and not another cause. The death must also be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Element 2: Did a Willful or Negligent Act Cause the Wrongful Death?

The act must be proven to have been negligent, reckless, willful or intentional. An example may be a driver that rear-ended and killed someone while being distracted by a cell phone.

Common causes of wrongful death claims include:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Car or other motor vehicle accidents
  • Criminal actions (stabbings, shootings, blatant violence)
  • Occupational hazards and exposure (such as asbestos)
  • Supervised activities (field trips, school, daycare)

Element 3: Has a Loss Been Suffered by the Survivor?

The loss of income or monetary support provided is the most common and provable type of loss. The loss of the deceased’s income would cause grave financial hardship on the surviving family. In addition to damages caused by financial loss, the surviving party could also get awarded losses related to:

  • Loss of love/affection
  • Loss of physical support- Physical help can be assigned a dollar value. If the deceased provided all of the yard work, for example, a landscaper may need to be hired now.
  • Funeral or burial costs
  • Loss of a caretaker, protection, guidance, inheritance, etc

Typically, punitive damages are not awarded unless the defendant is convicted of felony murder that is connected to the victim’s death. Additionally, medical bills are typically not recovered, but can be pursued under a separate survival action claim.

Element 4: Statute of Limitations

In the State of California a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years from the date the death occurred.

If you have suffered the loss of a loved one and meet all of the above criteria, you may have the means to file a claim. Contact Sacramento wrongful death attorney Frank Penney for a free consultation.

Recent Blog Posts

  • barriers erected to prevent caltrans accident

    Avoid CalTrans Accidents: Be Aware of Extra Roadwork

    While local stay-at-home orders were fully in place and freeways were seeing a significant reduction in traffic, state officials were taking advantage of the situation by ramping up their roadwork projects. Road workers were able to work during the daylight hours instead of at nighttime, and were enjoying being able to close down long stretches […]

    Read More
  • fedex truck passing two pedestrians

    I Was in a FedEx Truck Accident: What Now?

    Delivery truck accidents, like a FedEx truck accident, can be very complicated as there are usually many different companies and people involved and accountable for the incident. Unfortunately, delivery truck drivers often have a great deal of pressure on them to deliver their packages quickly, which can lead to speeding, reckless driving, and dangerous situations. […]

    Read More
  • person driving at unsafe speeds during covid-19

    Watch Out for Speed-Related Car Accidents: Reckless Driving on the Rise During COVID-19

    With the state-wide stay-at-home order in full effect, our state freeway traffic is reduced significantly. The problem is that many of those who remain on the road are violating California basic speed law. In fact, according to the LA Times, the California Highway Patrol has reported an increase of over 87% in citations for motorists […]

    Read More
Over $100 Million Collected From Injury Cases. You Can Bank on Frank! (888) 888-0566 Contact Us Today

We'll come to you!

  • Sacramento Office
  • 333 University Avenue, Suite 200
  • Sacramento, CA
  • (916) 756-0772
  • Roseville Office
  • 1544 Eureka Road, Suite 120
  • Roseville, CA
  • (916) 788-1960
  • Oakland Office
  • 1300 Clay St, Suite 600
  • Oakland, CA
  • (510) 962-4610

© 2020 Frank Penney Injury Lawyers, Serving the Areas of Sacramento, Roseville, Fairfield, Modesto, Stockton & Oakland California

Call Now Button