It is nothing short of a tragedy to lose someone close to you in an accident of any kind, so it is disturbing to learn that unintentional fatalities are the third leading cause of death among Americans. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that almost 214,000 people die in accidents every year, putting these incidents just behind heart disease and cancer.
Surviving family members confront various emotions and grief, though additional consequences may arise from the void a loved one left behind. Financial ramifications and other losses mount in the weeks and months following the horrific incident.
If you recently lost someone in an accident due to the negligence of another person, you may gain some comfort from knowing that California law protects your right to compensation for your immense loss.
You may qualify for legal relief through a wrongful death case, though multiple steps and tasks are required to recover compensation. Do not delay in retaining a Los Angeles wrongful death attorney for assistance in the process of filing an insurance claim and litigating in court. Still, you might benefit from reviewing some basics of filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Assess whether you have standing
The first step in pursuing a wrongful death case is ensuring that you have the legal right to do so. California’s statute provides that the following individuals have the standing to sue:
- Surviving spouse or domestic partner
- Relatives who would be entitled to the decedent’s estate if he or she died without a will
- A minor who resided in the victim’s household was a dependent for the 180 days before the fatal accident.
Proving liability against another — Investigate and gather evidence
Your rights in a wrongful death case depend upon you being able to show that your loved one died because of someone else’s negligence. You will need proof of this carelessness, such as pictures, videos, and witness testimony.
File a claim with the at-fault party’s insurer
In most cases, you will file a claim with the insurer that provides coverage under an auto, homeowner’s, business, or property insurance policy. While you might expect the process to be as easy as filling out forms, you will also need to attach extensive supporting documentation regarding the fault.
Attempt to settle your claim by agreement
At times, you might be able to resolve your claim through an agreement with the insurance company. However, the claims adjuster may contest that its policyholder was not responsible for causing your loved one’s death. The insurer may deny your claim or offer a lowball amount.
File a wrongful death lawsuit in court
If you cannot settle with an insurer, you may need to initiate litigation by filing a complaint. A lawsuit will also involve discovery, deposition, motions, and other proceedings before getting to trial.
Count on a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer every step of the way
At El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers, we can schedule a free consultation to review your circumstances and advise you on how wrongful death cases work in California. For more information on how our team can assist with your options, please call our Sherman Oaks personal injury attorneys or visit us online.