What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death claims occur when someone dies as the result of another party’s negligence or intentional act of misconduct. Under these circumstances, the victim’s estate is allowed to seek compensation by filing a civil lawsuit against the person or entity who caused the death. This type of lawsuit may be filed independently of any criminal charges that are brought.
Under What Circumstances Can a Wrongful Death Claim Be Filed?
A wrongful death claim can be filed in cases where a victim would have had grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit had he or she survived. Examples of these cases could include medical malpractice, acts of intentional harm, reckless conduct and car accidents that are caused by negligent behaviors, such as drunk driving or distracted driving. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent or intentional actions of another party, you could contact a wrongful death lawyer in Newport Beach for assistance.
What Must Be Proven?
In criminal cases, prosecutors are required to prove that a defendant is guilty beyond all reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction. However, the burden of proof in a wrongful death case only requires that a defendant be found guilty by a preponderance, or 51 percent, of the evidence. In a car accident case, for example, that would mean that a plaintiff would only need to prove that it was more likely than not the defendant caused the victim’s death to prevail in court.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death claims can be filed by a victim’s surviving next of kin. The rules on who qualifies as next of kin vary from state to state, but California allows a victim’s spouse, domestic partner or children to file a claim. Under certain circumstances, a victim’s grandchildren or stepchildren could also be allowed to file a claim.
What Damages Are Typically Paid in Wrongful Death Settlements?
Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can vary depending on the victim’s age, income and number of dependants. Damages are also divided into economic and non-economic categories. Possible economic damages include funeral and burial expenses, loss of income and loss of inheritance. Possible non-economic damages include loss of services by the deceased, loss of care, advice and nurturing, loss of companionship and loss of consortium.
To learn more about filing a wrongful death claim, contact one of our Newport Beach wrongful death attorneys for a free consultation. Our expert personal injury attorney in Newport Beach will get you the justice you need.