Current law, approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom, will significantly alter the types of damages that can be recovered in survival actions and wrongful death claims in the state of California. Changes to the law might significantly raise the number of damages payable when individuals are killed due to the negligence or wrongdoing of third parties.
Survival actions are launched by the personal representative or successor in the interest of a deceased person’s estate and seek the same types of damages that the deceased victim could have sought in a personal injury claim had he or she survived.
In contrast, wrongful death claims are filed by the surviving family members of deceased victims in order to seek compensation for the injuries they have sustained as a result of their loved ones’ deaths. The modifications to the law influence the types of damages recoverable in survival actions brought by the estate on behalf of the heirs.
Below are examples of what may constitute a wrongful death case. See this article about what the individual legal elements of a wrongful death case are.
Background Of The Law
Under Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 377.20, a victim’s capacity to pursue a negligence claim for injuries he or she sustains due to the actions of others does not end upon the victim’s death.
Historically, estates and families had little legal backing when someone was killed due to the negligence or wrongdoing of others, even though the deceased may have recovered damages through a personal injury case if he or she had survived.
The California legislature acknowledged that this type of consequence was unjust and enacted legislation that allows the victim’s estate to seek compensation for losses incurred prior to the victim’s death. A wrongful death statute was also enacted to enable some surviving family members to seek compensation for losses incurred as a result of the defendant’s acts.
Previously, however, the allowable damages in a survival case were limited to the losses the decedent suffered prior to death plus any punitive damages he or she could have collected if he or she had survived and filed a personal injury claim.
These limits are stated in Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 377.34, and they prohibit the personal representative or successor in interest from recovering damages for non-economic losses the deceased sustained prior to death.
This means that estates cannot collect compensation for any pain, suffering, or disfigurement the deceased person endured between the time of his or her injuries and death. California was one of the few states that did not enable estates to recover non-economic damages prior to the passage of Senate Bill 447.
Common Examples Of Wrongful Death Cases
Accidents resulting in untimely death are frequently caused by the carelessness of others. This means a claim for wrongful death can be initiated.
If you want to discover what constitutes a wrongful death, continue reading for some common examples of wrongful death cases.
1. Car Accidents
Car accidents are one of the most prevalent causes of wrongful death. Since so many drivers are on the road, it is easy to encounter reckless behavior. Exceeding the speed limit, running lights, driving while distracted, and driving under the influence are all examples of reckless behavior.
It is particularly terrifying to be involved in a collision with a semi-truck. They can cause more severe injuries and even death due to their size. When factors like excessive cargo, drowsy driving, and technical faults are present, big trucks frequently cause accidents.
Cases of wrongful death can arise when a negligent driver causes a motor vehicle accident. In some instances, cities may be held accountable if external forces, such as traffic lights or road concerns contribute to a collision.
2. Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents vary slightly from car accidents. However, both can result in wrongful death lawsuits.
Typically, motorcyclists are not at fault in these situations. These cases result from other drivers following motorcyclists too closely. It is also common for people to miss the lane changes of motorcycles.
Other conditions, such as road faults or other dangers, can inevitably lead to a wrongful death lawsuit. When debris and other road conditions cause a motorcycle accident, the city may be held liable.
3. Truck Accidents
Despite the fact that they are still categorized as automobile accidents, truck accidents fall into a separate category due to a number of significant criteria, including their status as common carriers. First, since semi-trucks are larger than other vehicles, they are more likely to cause fatalities in an accident.
Truck accidents are caused by a variety of circumstances, including traveling with heavy loads, mechanical issues with the vehicle, and driver error, such as aggressive driving, losing control of the truck or driving when extremely fatigued.
4. Pedestrian Accidents
Accidents involving pedestrians can result in fatalities. Accidents between vehicles and pedestrians play an essential part in deaths because pedestrians lack protection.
In most situations involving wrongful death, the drivers are at fault. However, if road construction or other road conditions affect the driver, the city is liable. They are also responsible if the sidewalks are hazardous for people.
5. Bicycle Accidents
Typically, a bicycle accident occurs when drivers are not paying attention to the road. This is another example of a regular wrongful death case.
Due to the fact that cyclists are on the road, motorists are sometimes hostile toward them. Typically, bike lanes are located on the right side of the road.
When turning right, vehicles could collide with cyclists. In this manner, a vehicle may easily strike cyclists or cause them to crash by cutting them off. A collision can also occur if a driver fails to look before making a turn.
Dooring bicyclists is another type of negligent driving that can result in a wrongful death suit. This occurs when a parked vehicle opens its door onto a bike lane. Death can result from a cyclist colliding with a car door or needing to swerve into another lane to avoid a collision.
6. Assault And Battery
Person A and Person B argue over who is the faster runner. One day, the two guys decide to race to finally resolve the disagreement. Person A and Person B each run a mile in six minutes, which enrages them both even more. A’s anger leads him to threaten to retrieve his tire iron. A nevertheless strolls to his vehicle, reaches for his tire iron, and indeed murders B. B’s family members may retain the services of a wrongful death attorney to seek compensation for B’s death.
In this situation, if the wrongful death attorney for B’s relatives establishes that A’s negligence caused B’s death, A may be liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.
As a clarification, assault does not necessitate physical contact between the offender and the victim. Assault is a deliberate attempt or threat to inflict violence that places one or more others in fear of immediate physical danger. However, battery is the intentional and unwanted touching of another person in a harmful or offensive manner. Although “assault and battery” are frequently used interchangeably, they are distinct torts, and one can exist without the other.
In an assault or battery wrongful death action, the plaintiff may seek damages such as lost wages, lost benefits, medical expenses, and the deceased’s agony and suffering. In a wrongful death case, the party at fault may be held accountable.
7. Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can take many forms, which is why it is one of the most frequent causes of wrongful death. Even though the majority of healthcare professionals have extensive training and experience, errors do occur. Typically, these errors are the result of negligence.
It is possible for hospitals to commit medical malpractice, leading to wrongful death, when they cut corners. This indicates that they have failed to establish adequate procedures. Misdiagnosis, delayed treatment, birth traumas, drug difficulties, lack of consent, malfunctioning devices, and hospital negligence are examples of medical malpractice.
8. Workplace Accidents
Safety in the workplace should be a priority for companies. By ensuring the safety of employees, wrongful death lawsuits can be avoided.
It is more likely for fatalities to occur in high-risk occupations such as manufacturing and construction. However, accidents can happen in any workplace.
Even office work can be fatal. When an employee collapses due to overwork-related exhaustion, the employer is sometimes held accountable. When companies fail to maintain safe facilities, they are frequently held accountable for fatal workplace accidents.
9. Defective Products
When someone dies due to a product, the manufacturer is held responsible. In certain instances, the entire business chain may be held accountable. This covers the product’s manufacturer, designer, and marketing organization.
This is why companies conduct rigorous testing before releasing a new product. Always ensure that products are safe so that they do not result in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Children’s car seats, toys, pharmaceutical medications, motor vehicles, and machinery are some of the most common examples of defective products that can result in death.
10. Nursing Home Neglect
Abuse and neglect are legitimate concerns when placing a loved one in a nursing home, which can be unsettling. Nursing home residents who are neglected or abused can die owing to these causes.
In nursing homes, malnutrition, physical abuse, dehydration, and inadequate medical care are prevalent. This type of abuse can result in wrongful death and litigation.
If the facility violates its conditions, it will be held liable. This entails abusing patients, which can lead to difficulties and collapses resulting in death.
Contact Reeves Law Group Today
If you lost a loved one because of another person’s negligence or intent, you are entitled to compensation. Contacting a wrongful death attorney to schedule a consultation is a smart idea. One of our attorneys can evaluate your death case to determine if it can be tried in court. Even while criminal prosecution is pending, you can retain a wrongful death attorney and prepare for a lawsuit. Each case will be handled separately.
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