A man died in an early morning car accident on Sept. 5 after his car went down an embankment on the 55 Freeway, the Orange County Register reports. California Highway Patrol officials said the fatal car accident occurred on the freeway approaching the 73 toll road. The victim's Honda Civic went out of control, overturned and caught fire. The man died at the scene. It is not clear what caused this deadly car accident. The investigation is still ongoing.
Car Accident Deaths
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that at least 35,000 people die each year in the United States as a result of car accidents, which amounts to one car accident fatality every 12 minutes. The number of car accident fatalities has increased in 2016, according to NHTSA. Some of the leading causes of fatal car accidents include drunk driving, distracted driving, driver fatigue, weather conditions, roadway defects, inexperienced drivers, and vehicle defects.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Case
The stakes are much higher in wrongful death cases because families are not only struggling financially, but are also seeking justice for the loss of a loved one. As with all civil lawsuits, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiffs are the survivors of the decedent, usually the spouse, children or parents of the deceased. Proving a wrongful death claim involves four basic elements:
- Proving Fault: Plaintiffs must prove that an individual or entity was at fault for the fatal accident. For example, if the fatal car crash was caused by the other driver who was intoxicated at the time, that driver can be held accountable for the accident and damages caused. If that driver was on the job at the time, his or her employer can also be held responsible. In some cases, if a defective auto or faulty vehicle part causes the fatal accident, the manufacturer of the vehicle and/or the defective part can be held liable. The same also applies to safety devices such as airbags or seatbelts that fail during a crash and cause the decedent's fatal injuries.
- Survivors: You need to prove your relationship to the deceased individual. This means that if you are a child, you may produce a birth certificate. If you are a spouse, a wedding license would help prove the relationship.
- Losses sustained: You must also prove that you and your family suffered monetary losses as a result of your loved one's death. This could have been loss of income, benefits, inheritance, pension, etc. You could also seek lost future income, or income your loved one would have earned for the family if he or she were alive.
- Negligence: You would also have to prove negligence on the part of the defendant and that such negligence or wrongdoing directly caused your loved one's death and resulted in your monetary damages.
How a Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help
Car accident wrongful death claims can be complex and challenging. If you have lost a loved one in a car accident, which you suspect was caused by someone else's negligence or wrongdoing, it would be in your best interest to contact an experienced OC wrongful death lawyer who will fight for your rights and help you secure maximum compensation for your tremendous losses.