What Constitutes a Wrongful Death?
However, as the burden of proof requirements are not as stringent in wrongful death claims as they are in criminal prosecutions, successful wrongful death claims, like the one taken against O.J. Simpson by the families of Brown and Goldman families. Wrongful death claims can also be made against:
- Public agencies
- Cities or the state
- A city jail or a state prison
- A state-run or private hospital
- Public companies
- Nursing homes or other care facilities
The standard of proof that any of the above caused the death of a person must be shown by what is called a preponderance of the evidence as opposed to beyond a reasonable doubt, as is the case in a criminal lawsuit.
Who Can Take A Wrongful Death Action?
Conditions vary from state to state, but in California, the people who can make a wrongful death claim include:
- The surviving spouse or domestic partner
- The victim’s children
- The offspring of deceased children
- The persons who would be entitled to the property of the deceased if the victim had died without a will
- People who were dependents of the victim, including:
- Any minor who had resided with the victim for at least six months prior to death, and who was dependent on the deceased for at least 50 percent of their support
Extremely negligent acts that result in someone’s death can be used as grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Similarly, if the victim’s death was the direct result of a deliberate act, this, too, constitutes grounds for filing a claim.
In some instances, a wrongful death lawsuit is the only opportunity for families and dependants to seek restitution, since a company, city or the State of California cannot be charged with murder.
Damages that can be recovered in wrongful death lawsuits are many and varied, and this is just one of the reasons why anyone contemplating filing a California wrongful death lawsuit should acquire the services of an experienced wrongful death attorney.
Proving the levels of income and support that have been lost can often depend on expert testimony and complex calculations. Lost income alone can include:
- Lost wages that the deceased could have reasonably been expected to earn during the course of his life expectancy
- Bonuses, benefits and pensions
- Increased income due to the promotions that the deceased could reasonably have been expected to be given
- Gifts and other fringe benefits the deceased could have reasonably expected to receive in the course of his career
After that, your attorney must also show the affects in terms of loss of companionship is worth in dollar terms. This requires skill and experience, and is just one more reason to hire the best wrongful death attorney you can find.
Clearly, this is a complex area, but if you feel a loved one has been taken from you because of the negligent or deliberate acts of another person or entity, it’s only right that you contact an experienced and reputable Sacramento wrongful death attorney for advice.
The consultation is free, and the lawyer will explain your rights and entitlements in a wrongful death claim. Your family has already suffered the loss of a loved one. Through a good wrongful death lawyer and a successful wrongful death civil action, you can do your best to ensure that the person, company or entity that caused the death is held liable, and that your family has the resources they need to try to rebuild their lives.