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Pedestrian Accident Wrongful Death

How to File a Pedestrian Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Pedestrian deaths and injuries caused by traffic-related accidents have become a serious issue in Los Angeles County. In 2016, Los Angeles County had more fatal pedestrian crashes than any other county in the United States. Vehicle speed heavily contributed to the significant increase in fatal pedestrian collisions. In 2019, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reported that there were 519 pedestrian deaths that took place in California between the months of January and June. With the alarming amount of reports of pedestrian deaths in California, it is no wonder that it is one of the top five states accounting for almost half, 47 percent, of all pedestrian deaths.

Even a quick walk down the street can become a life-changing event if a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle. In essence, when a driver’s negligence causes injuries, or in this case, death to a pedestrian, the aggrieved individual and their surviving family members may be entitled to damages by filing a wrongful death claim.

If you or a loved one were injured in a pedestrian accident in Los Angeles, our experienced team of pedestrian accident attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers are always here to help. We will recover all of the compensation you are entitled to so that you can focus on your recovery and on the ones you care most about.

Pedestrian Deaths in Los Angeles

Pedestrian Wrongful Death Claims

According to California’s wrongful death law, which is covered under the California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60, a wrongful death is characterized by “a cause of action for the death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.” It also outlines the family members who are entitled to recover damages if a loved one was killed because of someone’s wrongful act. Those family members who are entitled to bring a wrongful death claim in court include:

  • The decedent’s spouse
  • The decedent’s registered domestic partner
  • The decedent’s children
  • The decedent’s grandchildren, if the decedent’s children are deceased
  • Any minors who were at least 50 percent dependent on the deceased for financial support
  • Any individual entitled to the decedent’s property according to California’s intestate succession laws 

Compensation for a Wrongful Death Pedestrian Injury

A successful wrongful death case will involve proving the following:

  • The death of a pedestrian
  • That the negligence or reckless actions of the defendant caused the pedestrian’s death
  • That the surviving family members have suffered financially and emotionally

Surviving family members are entitled to bring a wrongful death claim in court for acts based on negligence, gross negligence, recklessness, and especially for a deliberate wrongful act.

Damages in a pedestrian wrongful death claim are meant to compensate surviving family members for the loss of tangible and intangible forms of support they reasonably should have expected to receive had the victim not lost his or her life in a pedestrian accident.

How does the court determine how much surviving family members must be compensated for? The period of time during which these damages are recoverable is typically the shorter of:

  1. The decedent’s life expectancy when the wrongful act took place
  2. The life expectancy of the plaintiff when the wrongful act took place

When it comes to determining life expectancy, factors such as lifestyle, overall health, and job occupation will be taken into consideration by the court.

Economic Damages vs Non-Economic Damages
Economic damages may include:

  • Financial support that the decedent would have reasonably contributed to his or her family throughout their lifetimes
  • Loss of benefits or gifts the surviving family members would have reasonably expected to receive had the deceased not lost his or her life
  • Funeral and burial costs

Non-economic damages may include:

  • Companionship
  • Protection
  • Moral Support
  • Training and Guidance
  • Affection
  • Sexual Relations

Non-economic damages will be awarded at the court’s discretion and are based on common sense and evidence. There is no set amount or tried and tested standard for determining a dollar amount.

Punitive Damages
A surviving family member cannot recover punitive damages in a wrongful death claim. There is only one exception, which is if the deceased was killed because of a felony homicide for which the defendant was already convicted. A surviving family member would have to file a “survival” cause of action on behalf of the decedent’s estate in order to recover punitive damages.

A Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help 

If you or a loved one was injured in the city of Los Angeles as a result of a pedestrian accident, our experienced personal injury attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you recover compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call us today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our professional and knowledgeable legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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