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What are the elements of a wrongful death claim?

California families that lost a loved one in a serious accident may be able to pursue wrongful death claims. Especially if the family members were dependents, spouses, children or other close relatives, they may have strong wrongful death claims to pursue if it was negligence or unlawful behavior that caused their loved one's death.

Imagine your spouse was driving through town one night, perfectly sober and perfectly following all traffic laws. However, an extremely drunk driver came out of nowhere, struck his car, and your husband didn't survive. The drunk driver will probably be liable for wrongful death damages if the facts surrounding the case meet several requirements.

Principal elements in a wrongful death claim

There are a few principal elements that plaintiffs will need to prove to prevail in their wrongful death actions. These elements include:

-- A human being has died;

-- The death was the result of another party's negligence or intention to hurt the person;

-- A personal representative has been appointed to oversee the deceased person's estate.

-- Family members have survived the deceased person, and these family members have suffered financial harm due to their loved one's death; and

Common scenarios that give rise to wrongful death claims

As long as a particular death satisfies the above requirements, wrongful death plaintiffs may be able to successfully navigate their claims in a California civil court. However, there are some scenarios that give rise to wrongful death lawsuits again and again. These include:

-- Violent criminal actions;

-- Occupational exposure relating to dangerous substances and conditions;

-- Medical malpractice, medical negligence and doctors' errors;

-- Automobile and plane accidents; and

-- The death of someone, for example a child or medical patient, who is being supervised by another responsible party.

Wrongful death claims can help you gain a sense of closure

If you lost someone close to you because of another party's negligence or recklessness, you may want justice, and you may want to hold the at-fault party accountable and liable for the actions that led to your loved one's death. Although no amount of money, and no amount of litigation, will ever bring back someone who has died, the pursuit of a wrongful death claim can be way to obtain a sense of closure regarding your loss.

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