What is considered a “wrongful death lawsuit?”
There are four key elements involved in wrongful death as defined by law. Surviving members submitting a claim or filing a lawsuit must prove each element to win a case for financial recompense. The four key elements include:
Negligence – The surviving members or their legal representatives must prove the death of their loved one was caused (in part or in whole) by the recklessness, carelessness, or negligent actions of the defending party.
Breach of Duty – To be successful in the case, it must be proved that the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit owed a duty to the deceased victim. For example, a motorist maintains a duty to drive safely, and follow and obey every traffic law. Doctors and medical health providers have the duty to maintain a patient’s health. It is up to the plaintiff to establish how the defendant’s duty existed, and that the duty was breached through their negligent actions.
Causation – In addition to proving how the duty of the defendant was breached toward the deceased, the lawsuit plaintiff must also prove how the defendant’s negligence caused their loved one’s death.
Damages – The death of the victim must have generated quantifiable damages such as hospitalization, medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, loss of income and potential earnings, loss of protection, guidance and inheritance along with pain and suffering of the victim prior to death.
California law also limits the amount of time to file a lawsuit. While the general statute allows up to two years, this can be shorter in medical malpractice cases and other special circumstances.