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california wrongful death lawyer

Suddenly losing a loved one in an accident is a dreadful tragedy, and the time spent coping with the loss can be one of the most trying times of your life.  If the death was caused by another person’s negligence, then they can and should be held responsible.  During this time, the pain and grief you are experiencing may seem overwhelming, and while your thoughts may not turn to seeking justice through legal implications, it is important to seek qualified representation if your loved one’s death was due to an accident caused by another individual’s carelessness.  When your family member’s death was caused by another party’s inattentiveness or wrongdoing, the grieving process only intensifies, and it may be necessary for your own well being to obtain counsel to help receive financial compensation to which you and your family are entitled. Getting in contact with a California wrongful death lawyer is vital to strengthen your case and receive full compensation for your losses. Our personal injury lawyers at Edelman Law Center have the knowledge and expertise you need to represent you in the court of law.

Wrongful death claims are brought against an offender who has caused someone’s death either through intentional harm or negligence.  Wrongful death claims allow the estate of the departed person to file a lawsuit against the party who is lawfully responsible for the death. The suit is usually filed by a surviving family member, representative of the estate, on behalf of other affected parties.

When Is Filing a Wrongful Death Claim Appropriate?

A wrongful death claim is appropriate when a victim who would otherwise have a personal injury claim dies as a result of either negligence or a deliberate harmful act on the part of the offender. This can occur in a variety of situations, including:

  • Car accident fatalities involving negligence.
  • Plane, Train, or Public transportation accidents caused by negligence
  • Death caused by another individual’s criminal act
  • Intentional harm caused by another individual
  • If a victim dies as a result of medical malpractice. If a doctor failed to diagnose a condition, or if the doctor was careless in the level of care provided, and death resulted, then a wrongful death action could be brought against the doctor
  • Death caused by an occupational hazard
  • Death caused by unsafe work conditions

These are just a few broad examples of personal injury cases, that could turn into wrongful death cases if the victim dies. A wrongful death claim can stem from almost any kind of personal injury scenario, but it is important to note that injuries that result in death from a work accident often must be handled only through the worker’s compensation system.  If this is the case for your loved one, then the knowledgeable attorneys at Edelman Law Center will be able to provide you with legal guidance based on a case analysis.  

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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is typically filed by a representative of the estate of the deceased victim, on behalf of the survivors who had a relationship with the victim. Exactly who those survivors may be, varies state by state. In all states, a spouse may choose to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of his or her deceased spouse. Parents of minors may also bring a wrongful death claim if one of their children is killed, and minors could collect compensation for the death of their parents. There is a discrepancy between some states whether parents of adult children can sue.  It is also different state to state whether adult children can sue for wrongful death of their parents, grown siblings can sue for wrongful death, or whether extended relatives like cousins, aunts, uncles, or grandparents could file a claim. Typically, the more distant the familial relationship is, the harder it could be to show that you should be allowed to collect wrongful death damages. In some states, the partner (even if not legally married) of the deceased may seek to file a wrongful death claim, as can anyone who can prove financial dependence on the deceased.

What Must Be Proven in a Wrongful Death Case?

To hold the defendant liable in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiffs (usually the loved ones or estate of the victim) in the claim must meet the same burden of proof that the victim would have had to meet if the victim had survived and they were filing their own claim against the defendant.  

The plaintiff must show the court that the defendant was negligent, and that the defendant’s negligence directly caused the deceased’s death, before the court will order the defendant to pay any damages.  Using negligence as an example, this means first showing that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care.  Next it must be proven that the defendant breached this duty and that the breach of duty was a direct cause of the death, finally, that the death caused the damages that the plaintiff is trying to recover.  

  • Duty of Care –  For example, in the case of a car accident, the plaintiff’s legal team must prove to the court that the defendant had an obligation to obey the “Rules of the Road” and drive carefully while operating any vehicle
  • Breach of Duty of Care – Using the example of a car accident again, the plaintiff’s legal team must prove that the defendant failed to obey any pertinent traffic laws, such as speeding or by running a red light.
  • Causation – It is not sufficient that the plaintiff merely show that the defendant broke the law, or breached a duty in some other way. The plaintiff’s legal team must also show that defendant’s specific action directly caused the wrongful death. So, even if the defendant ran a red light while driving a car, the defendant is not liable for the deceased’s death if the death was caused by a mechanical failure on the vehicle.

 What Damages Could You be Compensated For?

Damages are usually divided according to whether they go toward the estate of the deceased for losses associated with the death, or the surviving family members for the personal losses suffered due to the death of their loved one.

Losses that are usually attributed to the estate consist of:

  • medical and hospital bills that have accrued due to the deceased person’s injuries
  • funeral and/or burial expenses
  • lost income, including potential income the deceased person would reasonably have been expected to earn in the future had he or she lived.

Losses that are usually attributed to the surviving family members include:

  • loss of future financial support, and
  • loss of love, attention, guidance, affection, or moral support

Choosing a skilled lawyer is an essential part of filing action for wrongful death.  Selecting a knowledgeable and hardworking attorney at Edelman Law Center is important because a wrongful death claim can be very complicated.  Our goal is to protect your rights, and the legacy that your family member left behind. The dedicated and determined attorneys at Edelman Law Center are here to build a solid case and get you and your loved ones the compensation you deserve. 


Here at Edelman Law Center we are prepared to answer any legal questions you may have concerning your case. We offer completely free and confidential legal consultation and case evaluation from one of our trusted California personal injury lawyers. Schedule your consultation by calling toll free: 877.897.7228

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