If someone else’s actions caused the death of a loved one, then California wrongful death laws may allow you to file a claim seeking compensation for some of your losses. This is true whether the actions of someone else causing the death were intentional and with malice or only the result of negligence. In order to bring a successful wrongful death claim in California, however, there are certain elements that will need to be proven. More specifically, a wrongful death claim needs to be proven by a “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This means that it is more likely than not that the death was wrongful.
How Difficult is it to Prove Wrongful Death?
In order to substantiate a wrongful death claim, you may be asserting that the person who caused the death either did so due to negligence or because of intentional violence inflicted on the victim. In order to successfully pursue a negligence theory in a wrongful death claim, you must satisfy all of the following elements:
- The at fault party had a duty of care owed to the victim;
- The at fault party breached that duty in some way;
- The at fault party’s breach of the duty caused the accident;
- The accident caused by the at fault party’s breach of duty led to fatal injuries; and
- The death of the victim caused you and/or other claimants to sustain losses.
If you are pursuing a wrongful death claim pursuant to a theory of intentional violence, then you will have to prove different elements. These elements include:
- The at fault party intended to commit the act that resulted in harm;
- The victim did not consent to the contact with the at fault party; and
- The contact resulted in the victim being fatally injured.
In addition to all of the above listed elements, you must also be able to not only asserted the damages you have sustained, but also to support them with sound evidence. In California, you are able to seek compensation in a wrongful death claim for things such as:
- Cost of burial and funeral services for the deceased
- Loss of future income
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of household services
- Loss of companionship and moral support
While the cost of burial and funeral services, as well as loss of future income, can be fairly easy to substantiate through receipts and financial records, other damages may not be so easy to prove. Loss of companionship can be subjective and difficult to effectively demonstrate. Proving this kind of loss often requires the use of expert testimony.
Personal Injury Attorneys
Wrongful death claims can be difficult to prove. The requirements for what needs to be proven are specific and must be met in order to bring a successful claim. At SoCal Injury Lawyers, we are here to fight for our clients even when, and especially when, it is difficult. Our job is to fight for your legal interests and we do just that. Contact us today.