One of the most horrific things that can happen during an accident is when someone looses their life. The negligent driver must not only deal with the car accident itself, but they must deal with the fact that their actions took a life. If you have been in an accident where a wrongful death was involved, you have a right to sue for compensation. This is a very difficult area of personal injury, and it is one that must be handled by the most proficient attorney.
Understanding This Civil Action
A wrongful death claim is a civil action that is usually brought by a close relative. This claim holds the guilty party liable for the death. Because a person that is deceased cannot bring a suit, someone must do it on their behalf. In the United States, the standard of proof is that there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Many people choose civil actions, such as this, rather than resorting to criminal prosecution. Each state has adopted their own laws regarding wrongful death suits. The statute of limitations will vary per the accident. For instance, in Oregon, a wrongful death claim has a statute of up to three years. However, when alcohol is involved, there is an exception. In California, the statute of limitations is two years, but can be a year in some instances.
Tackling The Burden of Proof
The biggest hurdle to overcome is the burden of proof. A legal team must be able to prove that the negligent driver’s direct actions caused the death of another person. There are a lot of stakes in these types of cases. The settlements are high when death occurs. This is one type of case that no one should ever try to tackle alone. By having an experienced attorney on your side, you can get the maximum damage award possible.
In many personal injury claims, it’s about proving that someone directly did something that caused the accident. Accidents happen every day, however, not every accident is grounds for a lawsuit. There must be irrefutable proof that the driver’s mistake caused another person’s life. The accident had to be serious and in most cases the automobile is totaled.
Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death?
In most cases, a wrongful death claim is filed by an immediate family member. This is typically the person who suffers the most damage from the decedent’s death. In legal terms, it is referred to as “real parties in interest.” The executor of their estate is the best person to file such a case. Different states have variances on who the “real parties of interest” are lawful. Some of these parties may include:
Family – Members of the decedent’s immediate family include children, parents, and spouses. It is possible for a cousin, uncle, aunt, or grandparent to bring the case if there is no immediate family to do so.
Life Partners – A life partner, who is dependent upon the decedent for financial support, can also file a case. In some states, they are referred to as a putative spouse. This is a person who believes they were married to the person without the marriage certificate. They have a right to recovery based on the face that the decedent support them.
Anyone Who Suffers Financially – Some states will allow anyone who is suffering from the loss of the decedent to file a claim. Even if the person is not related by blood or marriage, if the person has lost the care or support of this person, the court will hear their case.
Parents of Fetus – In the case where a baby is killed, in the womb, during a car accident, a parent has a right to file a wrongful death suit. Now, this is not able to be done in all 50 states, but many allow a claim of this nature for an unborn baby. If the state does not allow unborn child rights, then some of these states will allow a child who is forced to be born, due to the accident, rights. A child must be born alive and then die for a case to be filled. This is a gray area within wrongful death claims, and it should be discussed further with an attorney.
Farar and Lewis Can Help
Our Los Angeles personal injury firm has collected more than $50 million for our clients. We understand how difficult dealing with a wrongful death claim can be. It is imperative to file your claim as soon as possible. These cases take the time to work through the court system, and we will be with you every step of the way.