wrongful death lawyers
Daniel.Tan | May 4, 2024 | 0 Comments

Suing for Deceased Family Members After a San Bernardino Crash

The news of a fatal car crash can be life-altering. Whether it took the life of a spouse, child, or parent, this news can cause paralyzing grief. When the initial shock wears off, however, many surviving family members pursue justice with unwavering commitment. If you believe that a negligent driver caused the fatal accident, you may be intent on holding them accountable. In California, the criminal justice system ensures serious consequences for drunk, distracted, and reckless drivers. However, you can also ensure further consequences through civil courts. When can you sue for a fatal car crash in San Bernardino?

Determining Who Caused the Fatal Crash

It may be challenging to determine the root cause of a fatal crash in San Bernardino. Because your loved one did not survive, you lack the crucial testimony that a living victim would otherwise provide. As a result, it becomes even more important to gather detailed evidence alongside qualified San Bernardino wrongful death lawyers. With help from a wrongful death lawyer in San Bernardino, you can determine exactly what happened to your loved one.

Different kinds of evidence may prove useful depending on the circumstances of your crash. You might rely on police testimony and collision reports to establish a potentially negligent party. In another crash, an eyewitness might prove crucial. If the accident occurred in an urban area, nearby surveillance cameras might have captured important details.

The type of negligence involved may also make certain evidence more important. For example, a Breathalyzer report may be critical in establishing the negligence of a drunk driver. If the accident was caused by a distracted driver, text messaging data could prove more important.

Each crash is different. An experienced wrongful death attorney in San Bernardino will consider the unique circumstances of each incident when searching for compelling evidence.

There are many potential parties that may have caused the fatal accident. When you first hear the news of the collision, details may be very vague. You might also receive incorrect information from police or eyewitnesses. For example, you might have heard that your loved one caused the accident that claimed their own life – but this might not be true.

A wrongful death attorney can look into your accident and collect more reliable information. There are various parties that may have caused or contributed to the accident, including:

  • Distracted drivers
  • Intoxicated drivers
  • Reckless drivers
  • Street racers
  • Fatigued drivers
  • Truck drivers
  • Construction companies
  • Traffic authorities
  • Entities responsible for road maintenance
  • Auto manufacturers

Pure Comparative Negligence and Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Keep in mind that even if your loved one partially caused the accident, you may still pursue compensation on their behalf. California is a “pure comparative negligence state.” In other words, you can pursue compensation even if you partially caused your own accident. While other states put limitations on this rule, California does not. In a “pure” comparative negligence jurisdiction, you could theoretically file a wrongful death lawsuit even if your loved one was 99% responsible for their own crash.

This might not be advisable, however. If your loved one was truly 99% responsible, you would only receive 1% of normal compensation. To discuss whether or not a wrongful death lawsuit in San Bernardino is worth pursuing, it is best to discuss your unique circumstances alongside a San Bernardino wrongful death attorney.

Only Certain People Can File Wrongful Death Lawsuits

In California, you must be closely related to the deceased victim if you want to sue on their behalf. Normally, these types of lawsuits are reserved for parents, children, and spouses of the victims. However, more distant relatives could also qualify if these close family members are deceased or non-existent.

Determining Your Damages

Although a wrongful death lawsuit can provide a sense of closure and justice, its main purpose is to provide compensation. You can pursue many different types of compensation in this situation. These different types of compensation are called “damages.” The two main types of damages are “economic” and “non-economic.”

After losing your loved one in a fatal crash, you may incur numerous economic damages. These are financial losses. Examples include funeral expenses, lost future wages, and unpaid medical expenses.

For example, you may have lost your spouse in a fatal car accident. Perhaps your spouse was the primary breadwinner in your family, and you face financial pressures due to this sudden loss of income. Maybe you are not sure how you are going to feed and clothe your children. In this situation, you could receive compensation for the years of income your spouse would have earned if they had survived.

In addition, you may be left with all kinds of debt. Perhaps you paid the average funeral cost, which is about $8,000 in the modern era. Maybe your spouse incurred serious medical costs before passing away. For example, your spouse might have been evacuated via helicopter to the nearest hospital. A single air ambulance trip can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

After arriving at the hospital, doctors may have attempted all kinds of life-saving treatments. Perhaps they carried out an emergency brain surgery to relieve pressure due to internal bleeding. Perhaps they were forced to remove shards of glass or twisted metal. Maybe your spouse suffered serious burns that required expensive treatment. Despite these efforts, your spouse might have passed away from their wounds.  Even if the medical treatment was unsuccessful, you are still required to pay for it. This medical debt can be crippling.

Non-economic damages are more complex, and they represent your emotional or psychological losses. Examples include loss of consortium, emotional distress, depression, and much more.

Work with a Qualified Wrongful Death Lawyer in San Bernardino

The first step on the road to justice is to connect with an experienced wrongful death lawyer in San Bernardino. During your first consultation with one of these legal professionals, you can assess various legal options. You can also explain your specific situation in more detail and receive targeted advice. As a surviving family member, you are completely justified in taking legal action. Contact Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP online or call us today at 909-894-0812.

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