Wrongful death claims can protect your family after a fatal crash

It's common knowledge that there is some risk associated with traveling in a motor vehicle. Still, you rarely consider this risk in-depth unless something tragic happens to you or your family. Losing a loved one to a motor vehicle collision or crash is heart-breaking. There's the initial shock of receiving the bad news, as well as all the dreams unrealized and words unsaid. When someone dies suddenly, it can overwhelm you.

While you're still processing the loss, you will have to arrange for a funeral service and burial or cremation. There will be practical matters, such as reviewing the terms of any last will or estate plan, as well as removing the deceased from critical accounts, such as your mortgage.

There's so much to handle that you may completely forget about the person who caused the fatal crash. You should consider whether you have a case for a wrongful death lawsuit.

People who cause deaths due to negligence break the law

California law is quite clear about when an accidental death constitutes a wrongful death. Sometimes, for example, inclement weather or a sudden medical even could cause a crash. That would not necessarily mean the other driver was responsible for a wrongful death. However, there are many more scenarios in which decisions made by the other driver directly endangered your loved one.

Any death that results from a wrongful act, neglect or another person could result in a wrongful death lawsuit. These lawsuits, which can come from surviving spouses, children, parents, domestic partners or the immediate heir of a deceased party entitled to the property of the deceased. However, it's important to know that you must file the lawsuit within two years of the death.

California law allows for compensation for direct losses

Generally speaking, some of the compensation awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit will go to the estate of the deceased, while other compensation will go directly to the surviving family members. The estate of the deceased can generally claim and receive compensation for costs related to a funeral service and burial, any medical bills related to treatment before death and lost income that the deceased would reasonably have earned in the future.

The surviving family members can claim a number of losses, including the value associated with that person's unpaid work in the home (such as cooking, cleaning, lawn maintenance, child care, etc.), the loss of future financial support (through wages and other sources of income) and the loss of love, affection, support and attention from the deceased.

That last one can be quite difficult to put a price on, because the love of your family is invaluable. However, it's important that your family acknowledge these non-financial losses as a means to connect with the compensation you deserve.

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