When a person dies as a result of an act of negligence or malice, California state law gives their family and estate the right to seek compensation by filing a wrongful death suit.
A wrongful death lawsuit in California is a civil action, separate from any criminal charges filed by state or federal authorities. A defendant can be held liable for a person’s death in civil court even if they:
- Were never charged with a crime;
- Had any criminal charges against them dropped due to lack of evidence; or
- Were found not guilty of a crime.
In fact, the burden of proof requirements for finding a defendant guilty of wrongful death in civil court are a lot less rigorous than those in a criminal court case. In a criminal case, the defendant must be found guilty beyond a reasonable of doubt; in a civil case, the judge and jury only has to consider the preponderance of the evidence to reach a verdict, which over 50 percent.
How to Prove Wrongful Death in California
In order to prove wrongful death claims in California, the plaintiff must be able to prove that:
- The defendant committed a negligent or malicious act;
- The act was a substantial factor in causing the death of the decedent;
- Surviving family members and the deceased’s estate suffered damages as a result of the death;
- A personal representative for the decedent’s estate has been appointed.
Proving liability in a California wrongful death case can often be a difficult. So can getting a fair and equitable settlement from the responsible party. An experienced Manhattan Beach wrongful death attorney can be invaluable in proving a wrongful death claim and collecting the full compensation you are due for the loss of your loved one.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?
Who can file a wrongful death claim in California? The people who have the right to make a wrongful death claim depends on what relatives survived the decedent and requires the analysis by an attorney experienced in handling wrongful death cases. Such persons include the decedent’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, or children; their estate; and in some situations, a putative spouse, children of the putative spouse, stepchildren, parents or siblings.
Damages in a California wrongful death lawsuit can include:
- Loss of the decedent’s love, companionship, comfort, care, guidance, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support;
- Medical expenses for the deceased’s final injuries;
- Funeral and burial costs; and
- Loss of financial support from potential income (income the deceased would have been expected to earn if had they lived).
Get Help Today
Losing a family member due to the negligence of another person can be emotionally and financially devastating. If you’ve recently lost a loved one because of someone’s negligence or malice, we urge you to reach out to the Manhattan Beach wrongful death attorneys at the law firm of Dinsmore & Sandelmann.
We’ve been helping clients in Manhattan Beach, Torrance, Redondo Beach, El Segundo, Hawthorne, Hermosa Beach, Gardena and other South Bay California communities get the justice they deserve after losing a loved one to the intentional or negligent acts of another.
Don’t delay in seeking legal representation; there are statutes of limitation that apply to wrongful death suits in California. Contact the law firm of Dinsmore & Sandelmann to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with a leading Manhattan Beach wrongful death attorney. We are here to listen to your story, answer your questions and provide honest advice on your legal options. Let us help ease your financial and economic burdens after the loss of a loved one due to a wrongful death.