Wrongful Death Car Accident Lawyers in Los Angeles
Did your love one die in a Los Angeles Car Accident?
Call the LA Fatal Car Accident Lawyers at Wilshire Law Firm right away!
Our Wrongful Death & Car Accident legal experts are available to take your call 24/7, 365, and can be reached at 1-800-522-7274.
Your Guide to Los Angeles Wrongful Death Claim in Car Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 35,000 car accident fatalities are reported in the United States every year. That equates to one death every 12 minutes. Most of these car accidents are caused by motorists that exhibit negligent and/or reckless behavior on the road, such as:
- Distracted driving,
- Fatigued driving,
- Drunk driving, or
- Otherwise reckless driving.
A deadly car accident in Los Angeles can happen in a flash, but the consequences can last a lifetime. Family members are often left asking, “Why? Why did we lose our loved one so suddenly and violently?” Besides emotional pain and mental anguish, survivors may suffer significant financial damages as well, especially if they were dependent upon the decedent for monetary support at the time of his or her death. All of these damages can add up, placing a heavy burden on those left behind.
If the negligence of another party caused a fatal car crash, the legal concept of wrongful death comes into play. Under the wrongful death statute, qualifying family members, dependents, and beneficiaries have the right to seek compensation for the loss of their loved one. However, they must first establish the three basic points of a wrongful death claim or suit:
- Another party was at fault for the death of the decedent;
- The claimant can prove their relationship to the deceased; and
- The death of the decedent will result in a pecuniary (monetary) loss for the claimant.
Proving these points requires substantial credible evidence. Unlike minor injury claims, wrongful deaths always require the expertise of a personal injury attorney with a proven track record of success in car accident fatality cases. There’s just too much on the line. The sooner you get legal representation, the better.
Understanding Common Awarded Los Angeles Car Accident Wrongful Death Damages
No two wrongful death cases are exactly alike. How the death occurred, the losses surviving loved ones have sustained as a result, and so on – these circumstances affect what damages are awarded and how they are calculated. However, there are several types of damages that are consistently awarded to survivors. They are as follows:
- Medical and Funeral Expenses – People who sustain fatal injuries in a Los Angeles car accident often receive medical treatment before passing. The resulting costs can be exorbitant. In addition to medical costs, there are funeral expenses to consider. Getting compensation for these damages can help survivors alleviate stress after a loved one’s death.
- Loss of Earnings – When a loved one passes, surviving family members are deprived of his or her income. If the deceased was the “breadwinner,” the effects upon the family’s finances can be devastating. Economic loss experts are often brought in to calculate the deceased’s anticipated income, which is then factored into the damage award.
- Loss of Benefits – Survivors can recover the probable total value of the deceased’s benefits, including pension, medical coverage, etc.
- Care of a Child – Today, the courts recognize that the loss of a stay-at-home parent can still put a huge financial strain on the family, not to mention the emotional toll. After all, they both provide highly important and valuable services to the family, including child care, housekeeping, and other domestic services.
- Survivors’ Pain and Suffering – While these non-economic damages are not always awarded in wrongful death cases, they can be quite significant when they are granted. They are generally awarded in cases in which the survivor’s suffering goes beyond grief and includes trauma and shock.
Do you have any questions about the calculation of damages for your specific wrongful death case? If so, please don’t hesitate to contact the compassionate California wrongful death lawyers at Wilshire Law Firm for assistance. We have the financial and legal expertise required to give you a comprehensive evaluation of your case. After speaking with us, you will know where you stand and what to do to get the justice and compensation you deserve. To learn more about the services our personal injury firm provides, call us toll-free today at (866) 703-5073.
Wrongful Death Attorney: How to Prove a Car Accident Wrongful Death Claim in Los Angeles
A wrongful death claim is one in which close family members or heirs of a decedent seek monetary compensation from the person or entity who allegedly caused the death. In order to win the claim, the plaintiff (the person filing the claim) must prove with evidence that the defendant was indeed responsible for the death of the deceased person through negligence.
What must the plaintiff prove?
A wrongful death claim has four elements, each of which the plaintiff must prove with evidence. They are as follows:
- Negligence: Negligence can be described as the failure to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury or loss to another person. Anyone who causes injury or death to another person is liable for penalties and damages. The plaintiff must prove that the wrongful death of the decedent was caused partly or wholly by negligence of the defendant.
- Breach of duty: A breach of duty occurs when an individual or entity owes a legal duty of care towards another individual, but fails to perform that duty to an acceptable standard. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached his or her duty and that breach of duty caused the wrongful death.
- Causation: Causation is the actual cause of death or injury. It can be any action (or inaction) committed by the defendant. The plaintiff must prove that a certain action (or inaction) of the defendant directly caused the wrongful death of the decedent.
- Damages: These are the quantifiable losses incurred by the plaintiff as a result of the death of the decedent. The plaintiff must prove, by producing documentary evidence (such as medical bills, funeral and burial costs, and pay slips), that the death of the decedent caused him or her damages.
What evidence must the plaintiff produce?
Proving the four elements of a wrongful death claim discussed above is not easy. The plaintiff must produce evidence, eyewitness testimony, and expert witness testimony. The evidence needed to prove a wrongful death claim may include death certificate, police reports, medical reports, autopsy reports, toxicology report, and evidence of relationship between the negligent party and the victim.
- Death certificate: The decedent’s death certificate can provide an accurate picture of the exact cause of his or her death. Since it is verified by the coroner, it is often accepted as the final word in deciding what caused the death.
- Police report: If the death occurred in an event that required police response, then the report prepared by the responding police officer will be valuable evidence. This report is often accepted by the jury as the final word in deciding who caused the death. The report is available online or can be ordered via mail.
- Medical reports: The medical reports of the decedent can prove the extent and source of the injuries the decedent sustained.
- Autopsy report: An autopsy is a post-mortem examination of the deceased’s body to discover the cause of death of the extent of injury or disease.
- Toxicology report: A toxicology report is the result of lab procedures to identify and quantify potential toxins in the body. If a lethal medication or substance is suspected to be the cause of death, then a toxicology report will provide evidence of that.
- Evidence of the relationship between the victim and negligent party: To prove that the defendant was negligent in performing his duty, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed the deceased a duty of care. For example, the relationship between a driver (the defendant) and a pedestrian (the plaintiff).
Proving a wrongful death claim is not easy. It requires a lot of research, hard work and understanding of the legal processes. This is why you need an experienced wrongful death attorney to handle your case. Once hired, he or she can take care of everything, leaving you free to grieve over your loved one’s death.
A Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help
Have you lost a loved one in a Los Angeles car accident ? You are not alone. Every year, thousands of people are killed in motor vehicle crashes and other accidents in the LA area. If your loved one’s death was caused by the reckless, careless or negligent actions of drivers, then contact a wrongful death lawyer to seek justice for him or her.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit which seeks compensation from the guilty party for the survivor’s losses, including loss of companionship, medical bills, loss of future earning capacity, and funeral expenses. Even if a defendant is exonerated in a criminal case, he or she can still be held liable for damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
What are the types of damages you can seek?
‘Damage’ is the term that personal injury lawyers use to mean a sum of money claimed by or awarded to a plaintiff in compensation for a loss or injury. In the event that a loved one is killed in a Los Angeles car accident, you can seek the following damages from the guilty party.
- Economic damages: These are the financial losses suffered by the family members of the deceased. They include medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of earnings, etc. They can even include loss of services and goods provided by the deceased while he or she was living. The claims should be substantiated by documentary evidence, such as hospital bills.
- Non-economic damages: These are the non-financial losses suffered by the family members of the deceased. They include pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and loss of protection, care and guidance, etc. The monetary value of these losses is often determined using a special formula.
- Punitive damages: These are the damages that are awarded to punish the individual or entity that caused the death, whether deliberately or through negligence. Punitive damages are rarely awarded; but if you can prove that the guilty party caused the death by deliberate action or egregious negligence, then you may ask the court to award these damages to you.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
Under California law, only a legal heir of the deceased can file a wrongful death lawsuit and recover the damages. The heir should be identified in the code section CCP Section 377.60. A legal heir may not necessarily be the surviving spouse or children of the deceased. In case a person dies intestate, i.e. without a will, his or her heirs are determined according to the laws of the state. Only those individuals named as heir can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In general, the people who can seek damages include spouse, children and sometimes parents of the deceased.
What’s the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim or lawsuit?
The statute of limitations is the period within which a claim or lawsuit must be filed. The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim or suit varies from one state to another. In California, there are at least three statute of limitations:
- In most situations, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of injury or death.
- If the death was caused due to medical malpractice, then the statute of limitations is three years from the date of death or one year after the discovery of injury that led to death.
- If the death was caused by government property, such as a fire truck, which are usually protected by sovereign immunity, then the statute of limitations is six months from the date of injury or death.
How to file a wrongful death lawsuit?
If you are not planning to represent yourself in the court (which you shouldn’t if you are not well-acquainted with the legal processes), then your lawyer will file the lawsuit on your behalf. He will gather all the necessary information and evidence to win the lawsuit (a process called ‘discovery’), talk to the witnesses and speak on your behalf in the court. Before the lawsuit goes to trial, he may try to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with the defendant.
As your designated representative, your wrongful death lawyer will fight until the lawsuit reaches its conclusion. He will work hard and use all his knowledge and skills to win a verdict in your favor. This is why you should carefully select your lawyer.
How a Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help You Win
Since hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars are usually at stake in wrongful death cases, it is important to retain the services of an attorney who has the training and resources to thoroughly investigate and win your case. The right wrongful death lawyer will:
- Hire investigators, accident reconstruction specialists, medical experts, and other relevant professionals to prove the other party’s liability and establish the full extent of your damages;
- Collect vital evidence, such as photos, video footage, witness statements, police and medical reports, etc., AND prevent insurance companies, individuals, and government agencies from destroying or erasing key evidence; and
- File a lawsuit and fight aggressively in court if negotiations for a full and fair settlement don’t work out.
If you have lost a loved one in a Los Angeles car accident caused by another party, please reach out to the experienced Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers at Wilshire Law Firm for immediate legal assistance. We can help you get compensation for medical and funeral expenses, lost potential earnings, pain and suffering, and more. However, don’t delay – in California, the deadline to file for wrongful death, also known as the statute of limitation, is two years in most situations. Don’t surrender your right to obtain justice. Call us today at (800) 522-7274 and let us get started on your case.