Wrongful Death and Auto Accidents: What You Need to Know

Auto Accident, Wrongful Death / August 28, 2021

Losing a loved one in a fatal traffic collision is a nightmare experience. That experience is made even worse when the collision was avoidable or resulted from another person’s negligence. Unfortunately, in these cases, the people left behind sometimes often have significant financial problems that compound their shock, anger and grief.

There is one ray of light: California law protects victims by allowing them to file wrongful death claims in some cases.

Let’s take a closer look at how wrongful death applies in auto accident cases, and who is eligible to make such claims.

Understanding Wrongful Death Claims

Auto and pedestrian fatalities are some of the most common types of wrongful death litigation. In these lawsuits, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted recklessly or negligently and caused the death of the victim.

Some common forms of negligence on the road include driving under the influence, speeding, texting while driving, or running a red light or a stop sign. It is important to note, however, that wrongful death lawsuits are not restricted to drivers alone. A vehicle manufacturer that fails to address a defect in its products could be held liable under the wrongful death statute if that defect caused the death of a driver. Additionally, an entity responsible for maintaining roads or traffic lights could also be liable if negligence created road conditions that led to a death.

How Wrongful Death Cases Proceed

After a fatal collision, the insurance company for the at-fault driver or party may seek to negotiate with the victim’s family and/or plaintiff. Navigating this process can be difficult, as insurers employ expert negotiators who are trained to get victims to settle for the lowest figure possible. Hiring an experienced auto accident attorney can help ensure that the negotiating process is fair and the scales are balanced.

If no fair settlement can be reached, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed. This is a civil action (though criminal charges may also occur in parallel) that allows the family of the victim to seek compensation for the financial losses they have incurred or will incur as the result of the collision.

To win a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed the victim of a duty of care; that duty of care was breached by negligence; the plaintiff caused the incident that resulted in the death and that compensable losses are present (such as medical bills, loss of future earnings etc.).

If those elements are present, the plaintiff can successfully earn compensation for the losses they have suffered.

Finding the Right Wrongful Death Attorney

If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself in a wrongful death situation involving a traffic collision, it is imperative that you work with a law firm that specializes in such litigation — and has the experience to handle even the most complex cases.

Contact Mansell Mansell Ayala + Villaneda to find out more about how we help victims of wrongful death receive the justice they deserve.

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Call (323) 466-4900, text or email us below to schedule your free consultation.

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