Wrongful death is a statutory action, which provides for the compensation of certain people who have lost a loved one due to the wrongful conduct of another person. Typically, wrongful death claimants include the surviving spouse and children of the person who died but may include other relatives depending on the specific circumstances. For example, if no children or spouse survived the person who died, then other persons may be able to recover according to the intestate succession scheme, which is described by the California Probate Code. This scheme can include virtually any relative of the person who died.
Wrongful death actions do not compensate for the pain and suffering of the person who died. Rather, a wrongful death claim is intended to compensate family members who have lost the love, society, and support of the person who was killed by the wrongful act of another person.
Generally, friends and acquaintances may not file a wrongful death claim for the death of a person who was not biologically or legally related to them. The limitations imposed on claimants depends upon the specific circumstances of each case. Typically, claimants include the surviving spouse and children of the person who died but may include other relatives. Recent laws have expanded the right to sue for wrongful death to unmarried but established same-sex couples and putative spouses.
Wrongful death is the result of a person’s negligent act. The different types of negligent acts in our society are virtually limitless and include events such as car accidents, slip, and fall accidents, elder abuse, and neglect cases, and product defect cases. If a person makes a mistake that causes another person’s death, then generally the person who committed that mistake will be responsible for any consequences, including the death of other people. In some instances, a person has a duty to prevent an injury from occurring, and that person does not take reasonable precautions to prevent injuries. In that scenario, a person would be responsible for a death that could have been prevented through reasonable precautions.
In many circumstances, the law specifies what actions a person or entity must carry out. For example, the law requires automobile manufacturers to install certain safety mechanisms (like seatbelts) in their vehicles and the failure to do so would create liability for any injuries and damages, which could have been prevented. In this manner, causes of wrongful death may not be immediately apparent upon the first impression. For example, if an automobile manufacturer installs seatbelts in its vehicles, and the manufacturer knows that 5% of those seatbelts will fail in an accident, then the manufacturer would likely be liable for failure to make a safe product. The family of an automobile accident victim whose seatbelt was defective may not become immediately aware that the manufacturer could have prevented the victim’s death.
Like any claim, these cases are fact-specific and no two cases are the same. In some circumstances, a defendant will admit responsibility for death. In other circumstances, a defendant may aggressively dispute responsibility. Where there are multiple persons who may be responsible for a person’s death, responsibility may be very difficult or even impossible to determine.
An attorney is experienced in the investigation and proof of a wrongful death claim and will maximize a claimant’s compensation. Without an attorney, even the most convincing claim may be rejected or denied for reasons entirely separate from the facts. There are many laws, which govern the process of making a claim, and the failure to follow those laws could result in the termination of a claim without any justice. In nearly every claim, an insurance company will respond to any allegations of wrongful death, and these insurance companies will try to mitigate liability at all costs. For example, an insurance company will commonly admit that their insured caused an automobile accident but was not responsible for the injuries resulting from that accident. These companies are aware that the average person is not sophisticated enough to jump through all of the legal hoops successfully. Insurance companies are concerned with profits, and they look for opportunities to pay little or nothing on any given claim. If you are negotiating a claim with an insurance company, then you are fighting with one hand, maybe even two hands, tied behind your back.
Our law firm has represented hundreds of people in wrongful death claims. We manage several of these types of claims at any given time, and we take them to trial if necessary. We are experienced and familiar with the process through which the insurance companies tend to evaluate these claims. Our goal is to understand the suffering of our clients from losing a loved one and to maximize our clients’ compensation in an attempt to repair that hole that was created in their life and to bring some form of closure.
The last thing you want to do after losing a loved one in a fatal accident is a fight with the insurance company for compensation. At the Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg, we will do that for you. We seek a full and fair recovery so you can focus on what is most important — moving forward from your loss.
We have more than 30 years of success in handling wrongful death cases resulting from:
Whatever the cause of your loved one’s untimely accidental death, we are ready to stand by your side. We put all our energy and resources into obtaining a full recovery for loss of life and companionship, funeral expenses, and lost wages.
We understand the confusion, hurt, and pain you are feeling right now. Receiving compensation will not make these feelings go away, but it can ease your financial worries about the future. Let us show you how we can help.