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Proving a California Wrongful Death Claim

While nothing can replace a loved one, a wrongful death suit is one way to get closure after the tragic and sudden loss of a family member at the hands of someone else’s carelessness. California law allows surviving family members to get compensation for any emotional and economic losses suffered after an accident that led to their loved one’s untimely death. However, recovering under a wrongful death suit can be a highly emotional and contentious process, so it’s recommended that you speak with a Los Angeles wrongful death attorney who can navigate the process for you.

It’s important to bear in mind that state law requires strict procedures to be followed to recover for your losses, and that these steps can stir up a lot of emotional strife. To prove that a death was wrongful and caused by someone else’s error, the court will require you to establish proof of negligence by showcasing evidence that a wrongful death did occur. This process requires investigating police reports, depositions, and testimony from witnesses, along with re-living some of the more painful instances of your loved one’s wrongful death. 

Understanding the Burden of Proof in a California Wrongful Death Suit

You may have seen a TV show or two about the criminal justice system that requires a prosecutor to prove that the accused committed the act ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ However, in a civil suit for wrongful death in California, you need not meet this excessively high burden. Instead, you need to focus on presenting evidence that shows that it is at least 51 percent likely that someone’s negligence caused the unnecessary death. This burden of proof is known as a ‘preponderance of the evidence.’

Our Los Angeles wrongful death attorney knows that proving that there was a wrongful death caused by negligence requires showing that the basic legal elements of a wrongful death occurred. The legal definition of negligence is “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.” To prove that a person or company’s negligence led to the death of another, you must be able to show:

  • The person or company had a certain duty of care to the persons they injured
  • The person or company failed to meet that duty of care in some manner
  • Such failure led to an accident that caused your loved one’s untimely and unnecessary death
  • That death resulted in hardship and economic and emotional losses for you

What Are Some Examples of a Duty of Care?

You may be wondering what types of people or companies have a duty of care to others. While this may seem like a difficult legal concept to grasp, here are a few examples of duties of care and how someone might fail to meet them:

  • Drivers have a duty to drive in a reasonably safe manner – distracted, drunk, or aggressive driving that results in someone’s death could amount to a wrongful death suit.
  • A company has a duty to assure that the products they sell are safe and designed for their intended use, and warn of any potential dangers associated with the product. Failure to meet these standards would be negligence.
  • A medical professional is expected to provide a level of care that matches other similarly trained professionals. Failure to do so is a breach of duty of care.

Speak to a Los Angeles Wrongful Death Attorney as Soon as Possible

If you have questions or concerns about your situation’s legal options, do not hesitate to contact our Los Angeles wrongful death attorney. We are here to help.