Losing a loved one unexpectedly can be a hardship that is almost impossible to overcome. Between the emotional impact of losing someone you love and the financial repercussions of the loss of their income, everything from your standard of living to your daily schedule may suddenly change.
Sometimes, these losses are truly tragic accidents that no one could prevent or control. However, many accidental deaths in California actually qualify as wrongful deaths, which can lead to a civil lawsuit filed against the person or business responsible. How do you determine whether your family’s recent loss was a tragic accident or an actionable wrongful death?
Wrongful deaths are preventable with care or legal compliance
Countless circumstances could lead to claims of wrongful death, ranging from a drunk driver hitting a pedestrian to claims against a property owner whose inadequate maintenance led to someone falling down the stairs and dying.
The impact of the situation is not what determines whether it constitutes wrongful death or not. The behavior or lack thereof on the part of the person or business responsible is. Under California state law, a wrongful death involves either a wrongful act or negligence.
A wrongful act involves breaking the law and would include situations like drunk driving or an assault that causes deadly injuries. Negligence, on the other hand, could be anything from improperly maintaining a piece of equipment to shooting off fireworks without checking the area nearby.
Looking carefully at the circumstances around your family member’s death is usually the first step in determining whether you have grounds for a wrongful death claim.