In the event of a death caused by the negligent, or criminal act, of another, California law affords the heir or heirs of the deceased to bring an action for “wrongful death.” The death can have been caused by an automobile collision, an act of intentional personal violence, or an improperly maintained premises.
The identity of the “heir” is determined by the rules of intestate succession, i.e., the person entitled to inherit the assets of the deceased where such person has died without a will or trust instrument; in the event of the death of a spouse, the living spouse has standing to bring this action; in the event of the death of a child, whether a minor or adult, the surviving parent(s) have standing, and if no surviving parent, then siblings of the deceased. The rules regarding the identity of the heirs are well defined and easily identifiable.
Damages in a Wrongful Death case turn upon the loss of direct financial support that would have been provided by the deceased, and the loss to the heir of the “society and comfort” of the deceased.
This office has handled several of these cases. Because of the gravity of the loss in a wrongful death case, like a catastrophic injury case, certain litigation, negotiation and settlement techniques can be employed to great effect, including the use of professionally produced video, to more effectively convey the circumstances of the death and/or the relationship between the client and the deceased. Thee cases present unique opportunities to tell the story of a person’s life and to convey the nature of the relationship that has been lost. It is a privilege to take on such an assignment as an attorney, and should you wish to discuss how we can help you, please contact us.