Many of our readers in California have probably seen news reports before about families who decide to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit after a loved one is killed as a result of another person's negligent or reckless conduct. However, some people may not know the basics about wrongful death lawsuits. This knowledge can be crucial when making a decision to take legal action.
First, it is important to understand that a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action intended to pursue financial compensation from the party responsible for the death in question. But, depending on the facts of the case, a criminal case may also be underway at the same time based on the same death, if the party who caused the death violated a criminal statute in the process. These two legal cases would be completely separate from each other, even though they are based on the same incident and might even share a lot of the same evidence.
Next, many people may believe that they can only pursue a wrongful death claim if there are exact, calculatable losses to pursue, such as lost wages that the deceased person would have earned from the person's employment if not for the wrongful death. However, there may be many other types of damages to pursue even if the deceased person was not employed. There are, for example, plenty of cases that are initiated based on the death of a child or an elderly person. The types of damages to pursue will depend on the facts of the case.
Lastly, even though wrongful death lawsuits are a form of personal injury lawsuit, a wrongful death case can be quite a bit different than, say, a personal injury lawsuit based on a car accident injury where the victim survives. In fact, wrongful death cases can be quite a bit more complex. Those who believe they may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim in California may benefit from getting more information about their own legal options.