Losing a loved one in a tragic accident, where no fault lies with their own, can be an unimaginable experience. It brings forth feelings of unfairness and injustice, leaving a void in the hearts of those left behind. Wrongful deaths can occur due to various circumstances such as vehicle accidents, product defects, workplace injuries, or hazardous property conditions.
Statistics reveal that motor vehicle accidents rank as the primary cause of personal injury deaths among individuals aged 5 to 34. In 2013 alone, there were 32,719 deaths nationwide resulting from 30,057 motor vehicle crashes. Additionally, Los Angeles has seen a significant number of accidents involving collisions between vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Los Angeles reports triple the average pedestrian and cyclist accident rate compared to the national average (33% compared to 11.4%).
Under a wrongful death cause of action, heirs have the right to seek damages for the loss they have suffered due to the victim’s death. The elements of a wrongful death action include proving negligence by a third party that caused damages to the heirs of the deceased. The plaintiff must demonstrate that the third party had a duty towards the decedent and breached that duty. Heirs who are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit include the spouse and dependent children, de facto or domestic partners and dependent children, surviving parents or siblings of the decedent and their children, as well as any other person who was dependent on the decedent.
Wrongful death claims are statutory and compensate specified heirs for their own financial losses, including the loss of financial support, services, training, advice, and the pecuniary value of the decedent’s society and companionship. However, damages cannot be awarded for grief or sorrow associated with the loss of a loved one.
Distinct from a wrongful death cause of action is the survival action, which allows for an alternative theory of recovery for the death of a loved one. A wrongful death claim is separate from the victim’s action, which survives to the estate. California’s Code of Civil Procedure sections 377.10, et seq. govern these survivor actions, which are commonly referred to as “survivorship” actions. In a survivor action, the damages recoverable by a personal representative or successor in interest are limited by statute to the loss or damage that the decedent sustained or incurred before death. This includes medical expenses, wage loss, and any penalties or punitive damages that the decedent would have been entitled to if they had survived. However, damages for pain, suffering, or disfigurement are not included.
All wrongful death cases are subject to state law. In California, only one joint wrongful death claim is permitted against a defendant. This means that all potential heirs must file the claim together, in accordance with the “One Action Rule.” If there is another person who may be entitled to representation in the action, they must be named as a nominal defendant when the claim is submitted.
Fight for Your Legal Rights with Los Angeles Wrongful Death Attorneys at Abir Cohen Treyzon Salo, LLP
If you have lost a loved one due to an accident, the compassionate wrongful death attorneys at Abir Cohen Treyzon Salo, LLP are here to help. Our experienced legal team is dedicated to ensuring that you have a strong wrongful death case and will guide you through the process with ease.
If you are seeking compensation for the loss of a loved one caused by someone else’s wrongful conduct, it is crucial to understand your legal rights. Contact us online today or call our legal team at (833) ACTS-LAW to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout California, with offices located in Los Angeles and San Diego.