It is painful to lose a loved one due to negligence. Though the law in several states allows dependents of wrongful death victims to claim compensation, it cannot replace their loss. These lawsuits are meant to hold the defendant liable for their actions and to prevent the same accident from happening again.
In Orange County, California, the law, under California Code of Civil Procedure section 377.60, allows the victim’s children, surviving spouse, parents, and some other family members to recover compensation from the at-fault party. Therefore, to successfully file a claim, you will need the help of a wrongful death attorney. Therefore, if you are in Orange County, an experienced wrongful death attorney in Orange County can help the surviving relatives understand the state laws, review their case, and help them with their claim if the case is valid.
For a successful claim, it is essential to know the law. Here is all you need to know to successfully file a wrongful death lawsuit in Orange County.
Who Can Qualify as a Victim?
In California, a wrongful death victim is anyone who loses their life due to somebody else’s negligence or wrongful act. To file for a wrongful death claim, you have to connect the victim’s death with the negligent act and prove that the victim’s chance of survival was at least 51% or more before the negligent act.
Under California law, the death of an unborn child or fetus is not wrongful death because the law does not define them as human beings until they are born. Justifiable homicide victims, such as victims killed while committing a crime are also not considered victims of wrongful death.
If your loved one commits suicide and you are able to hold someone liable for their death, you can sue them. Victims of wrongful death are anyone to whom the defendant owed a duty of care, yet they failed to prevent their death.
How to Prove Liability
To prove that you have a valid claim, you and your attorney will have to consider four elements to prove liability:
- The plaintiff owed a duty of care to the victim.
- The duty of care was breached. They will also have to show
- That the breach of duty of care caused the victim injuries.
- The victim succumbed to those very injuries.
If you can prove all four elements, you can also claim damages for pain and suffering.
The Statute of Limitations
You will need to uphold California’s statute of limitations to file your claim. This is the time limit you have to file the lawsuit. If you fail to file within the set time, you can lose the case because the court can refuse to hear it. Different claims have different statutes of limitations. Your attorney will advise you on your claims statute of limitations so that you can file the claim within the right time.
The Damages You Can Collect
The number of damages you can claim will depend on your case and the factors surrounding it. In wrongful death lawsuits, the damages are meant to compensate you for both economic and non-economic losses and include the following:
- Hospital bills
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of financial support
- Lost income
- Loss of moral support
- Loss of love
- Loss of guidance
- Loss of affection
Your attorney, at-fault party, or the court will use a formula to determine the exact value of your damages. Your attorney can negotiate the settlement on your behalf to ensure you get fair compensation.
Consult an Experienced Orange County Wrongful Death Attorney
An experienced wrongful death attorney can help dependents through the challenging time of dealing with the tiresome settlement process after the sudden death of a loved one. These attorneys understand how emotional the process is and are always ready to assist dependents through the lawsuit process and help them get compensated for their losses.