California residents are involved in car accidents daily, and approximately eight Californians die as a result of a car crash every day, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Oftentimes, a fatal accident can be attributed to another driver's negligence. In these tragic situations, the victims' loved ones and family members may elect to file a wrongful death cause of action.
According to California law, the family members who may file a claim for wrongful death are the victim's surviving spouse, the victim's children and stepchildren, or the victim's registered domestic partner who would be entitled to the his or her property by intestate succession. If the victim is not married or does not have a partner or children, others may file suit for wrongful death, including those who are dependent on the decedent, a putative spouse and his or her children, and the victim's parents. Further, any minor who lived in the victim's household for at least 180 days leading up to his death and was dependent on the victim for at least one-half or more of its support may also file a wrongful death action.
When a family member is killed in a car accident, whether it's by a drunk driver or by a distracted driver who was texting and driving, that person's loved ones are left to deal with the aftermath. A victim's family members may suffer emotionally, for which they may recover damages for their pain and suffering. The loved ones left behind will oftentimes suffer a negative impact on their finances as well, and may recover damages for loss of companionship, lost wages, and medical and funeral costs. If the victim's family decides to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, the damages recovered can help to ease their financial burdens.
Those who have lost a loved one in a fatal car crash because of the negligence of another person, may benefit from speaking with a personal injury attorney. Filing a wrongful death claim may help hold the negligent person responsible for his or her actions, in addition to obtaining financial compensation.
Source: California Code of Civil Procedure, "Section 377.60-377.62," accessed on Oct. 3, 2014