A wrongful death is a death that is not legally justified. A death caused by a careless driver is never justified. Wrongful death attorneys help surviving family members recover compensation for their losses when a spouse, parent, or other close relative has died as the result of another person’s negligence.
Transportation accidents account for nearly a third of all accidental deaths in the United States. About 93% of those are motor vehicle accidents. Most of the other deaths occur in accidents involving small aircraft, trains, and recreational boaters.
Whether they involve cars, trucks, motorcycles, snowmobiles, boats, farm machinery, or any other kind of vehicle, collisions are nearly always caused by an operator’s negligence. California law defines negligence as a failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to another person.
When the negligent operation of a vehicle causes a fatal collision, the car accident wrongful death attorneys at Timothy J. Ryan & Associates help grieving family members pursue justice. If your spouse, parent, or other close relative was killed in a collision, call (800) 838-6644 to learn whether you or other family members may be entitled to wrongful death compensation.
Causes of fatal car accidents
Collisions almost always result from a negligent act or from a negligent failure to act. Examples of negligent acts and omissions that cause collisions include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)
- Speeding or driving too fast for road conditions
- Racing or reckless driving
- Failing to stop at red lights or stop signs
- Failing to yield to oncoming traffic
- Failing to check for traffic before entering an intersection
- Failing to check blind spots before changing lanes
- Making a left turn in front of an approaching motorcycle
- Distracted driving, including use of a cell phone while driving
- Long-distance truck drivers who fall asleep at the wheel
- Long-distance truck drivers who are impaired by drugs they use to stay awake
- Bus drivers who fail to maintain control of their vehicles on wet roads
- Bus drivers who fail to stop at railroad crossings
Under California law, survivors may be entitled to recover compensation for wrongful death even if the accident victim was partially at fault.
Wrongful death collision claims
When a death in California is caused by another person’s negligence, the relatives who may be entitled to recover wrongful death compensation include:
- The deceased’s spouse or domestic partner (if the domestic partnership was registered).
- The deceased’s living children.
- The deceased’s grandchildren if their parent is no longer living and is a child of the deceased.
- If the deceased had no surviving children, siblings or other relatives who would have inherited from the deceased if the deceased had died without a will.
Depending upon the circumstances, other individuals who depended upon the deceased for support, including stepchildren, parents, and unrelated minors who lived the deceased for more than 180 days, may also be entitled to wrongful death compensation.
At Timothy J. Ryan & Associates, we know that money does not replace the love and companionship provided by a spouse, parent, or other deceased relative. At the same time, we know that people who die in collisions would not want their families to be burdened by the loss of financial support that they once provided. We also know that surviving family members achieve justice and a sense of closure when the person responsible for a wrongful death is held accountable by the payment of compensation.
Two categories of compensation are available in wrongful death cases: economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages replace the lost earnings that the deceased would have contributed to the support of surviving relatives. Economic damages also include the value of the lost services that the deceased provided to surviving family members, including cleaning, cooking, and making home repairs.
Noneconomic damages provide compensation for losses that cannot be measured: the loss of love, affection, comfort, care, companionship, assistance, protection, and moral support. They also provide compensation for a spouse’s loss of sexual relations and for a child’s loss of a parent’s direction and guidance. A wrongful death car accident settlement can never replace the irreplaceable, but it is the remedy our legal system provides to hold people accountable for their careless conduct.
Helping families in California
Timothy J. Ryan & Associates is dedicated to the pursuit of justice for surviving family members who have experienced the loss of a loved one in a collision. In Orange County and across Southern California, Timothy J. Ryan & Associates provides compassionate and experienced representation to families who are in need of a wrongful death collision attorney.
Strict time limits apply to wrongful death claims in California. Individuals may lose their entitlement to compensation if they fail to act promptly. In addition, wrongful death collision lawyers need to begin an investigation of the facts as soon as possible in order to collect and preserve evidence that will lead to a favorable settlement or verdict.