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How a wrongful death lawsuit begins in California

The death of a close relative can devastate your family. Your spouse, parent or child is gone, and nothing can bring them back. Besides the emotional void in your life, there could be a massive financial crisis your family will soon face, if the deceased was a primary breadwinner for your household.

Even worse is when your loved one’s death would not have happened if someone else had not acted negligently. Say your relative was killed in a crash with a drunk driver, or a work accident because of a defective tool or machine. The pain of losing a family member to wrongful death can be unimaginable until you experience it yourself. Criminal charges against the wrongdoer can help create a sense of justice, but not everyone who causes another person’s death gets charged with a crime.

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Southern California?

In California, when someone dies due to the negligence of another party, a wrongful death lawsuit can help the deceased’s survivors get financial compensation. However, only the executor of the deceased’s estate may actually file suit. The executor is often the deceased’s spouse, parent or child, depending on how old the deceased was and whether or not they left behind an estate plan. Or it could be anyone the deceased selected in their will if they had one.

What sets wrongful death litigation apart

It’s important to know that the standard of proof in personal injury litigation, such as wrongful death, is lower than it is in criminal cases. If the person or business responsible for your loved one’s death is not charged with a crime or found not guilty at trial, that does not mean you cannot seek damages. You may be able to use the same evidence in civil court to get a favorable verdict or settlement agreement.

To know for sure, you should consult a personal injury attorney who has experience with catastrophic cases like wrongful death.