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San Bernardino Wrongful Death Attorney

Who Is Legally Permitted to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit? How Should the Plaintiff Prove the Defendant Is Guilty?

San Bernardino is no stranger to fatal accidents, with the most recent occurring in October of 2021. A driver hit a pedestrian and fled the scene of the accident. The driver was soon discovered by police and was booked on suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol. The pedestrian, unfortunately, was not able to recover from the injuries caused by the drunk driver and died in the hospital. Sadly, there are several other types of factors that have contributed to wrongful deaths, including product defects, bicycle accidents, scooter accidents, and motor vehicle accidents. If you have lost a loved one due to wrongful death, we extend our deepest condolences to you.

At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our San Bernardino wrongful death attorneys are committed to fight for your justice. With our track record of winning more than 5,000 personal injury cases and recovering over $1 billion in settlements for our clients, we have been acknowledged as one of the top personal injury law firms in San Bernardino.

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at our San Bernardino personal injury law firm, please contact us by calling (909) 787-2178 or emailing [email protected].

Who Can Legally Sue for Wrongful Death?

For legal representation, California’s Code of Civil Procedure 377.60 may allow a deceased victim’s immediate family, distant family, or significant other to file a lawsuit against the individual at-fault. Below, our San Bernardino wrongful death attorneys provide a more thorough explanation of eligibility.

  1. The surviving spouse: The decedent’s spouse is often the first person recognized to have the capacity to sue.
  2. Children or issue of the decedent: Where there is no spouse or if the spouse is unwilling or unable, the children can sue. There is no requirement that these can be only children from the decedent’s latest marriage. Any child of the decedent can sue.
  3. Dependent minors: It is possible in certain situations where the decedent is married that both they and their spouse died. In this case, their minor children who have lived in the decedent’s home for at least 6 months can sue.
  4. The putative spouse: A putative spouse is one that has not been shown to be legally married to the decedent. Under the law, this may be the surviving spouse of a void or voidable marriage that is found to have believed in good faith that the marriage was valid. Such a spouse may sue.
  5. Children of the putative spouse: If it is shown that the children of the putative spouse are financially dependent on the decedent, they may sue.
  6. Stepchildren of the decedent: Where it is demonstrated that the stepchildren were financially dependent on the decedent, they may sue.
  7. Parents of the decedent: If the parents of the decedent can demonstrate economic reliance or dependence on the decedent, they will be entitled to sue. For instance, they must show proof that the decedent was an important source of household support for them prior to his or her death.
  8. If there is no surviving spouse or issue: In this situation, anyone who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession can sue. This widens the pool of potentially eligible persons to include siblings, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, or any other person that may stand a chance of inheriting the decedent.

Who to Sue for Wrongful Death

You must determine who the at-fault party is in order to file a personal injury claim. However, prior to filing a claim, you should speak to an experienced wrongful death attorney. They will review your case to determine whether you should or should not file a claim against the party you believe is at-fault for the loss of your loved one. If the attorney gives you the green light, then you may begin collecting evidence and important documentation that will help support your claim.

Once you have gathered your proof, your attorney will look at your findings and help you build up your case. They will also negotiate with insurance companies to get you the maximum compensation and justice you and your family deserve.

Proving a Wrongful Death

Here are some important factors to consider when proving a wrongful death:

  • Duty of care. The plaintiff is expected to show proof of the defendant owing a duty of care to the deceased victim. For example, the defendant was disobeying road rules, such as exceeding the posted speed limit.
  • Breach of duty of care. The plaintiff must show proof of the defendant breaching their duty of care. For example, the defendant was going over 80 mph on a 55 mph road.
  • Causation. The plaintiff is required to show proof that the defendant’s breach of duty of care was the reason why the victim was killed. Following the previous examples, the defendant’s speeding is what caused the car accident that ultimately led to the wrongful death of the deceased victim.
  • Damages. The plaintiff was financially and/or emotionally harmed as a result of the defendant’s actions. Again, following up with the examples above, the plaintiff must show proof that the victim’s passing from the car accident had resulted in financial and emotional burdens, such as costly medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, loss of earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.

Burden of Proof 

The plaintiff is required to provide convincing evidence to the jury. By doing so, it could leave a persuasive impact on the jury. This may result in the allegations against the defendant becoming more true than not true. If the plaintiff is unable to exhibit important evidence against the defendant, then the defendant will most likely win the settlement. Even though the defendant is not required to prove anything during the trial, they could still use affirmative defense. This will cause a reverse effect between the plaintiff and the defendant. The defendant may be required to prove that the defense should be applied.

Available Damages

Damages will be distributed based on the type of loss the deceased victim’s heir(s) is suffering from. Recoverable compensation for a wrongful death may include, but is not limited to, the following:

Contact Us

If your loved one was a victim of wrongful death due to another individual’s negligence, West Coast Trial Lawyers has San Bernardino wrongful death attorneys that have over 60 years of collective legal experience in handling personal injury cases. We will help you recover financial and emotional compensation for the losses you have suffered on behalf of your loved one.

Contact our 24/7 legal team by calling (909) 787-2178 or emailing [email protected] to schedule a free, no obligation consultation at our San Bernardino personal injury law firm.

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