In some cases, California residents who lose a close relative can pursue justice and restitution against the negligent party responsible for the death. No matter what the facts of a particular case, though, anyone who initiates a wrongful death suit will have a lot of questions. Here are a few that personal injury attorneys are frequently asked.
What if someone is seriously injured in an accident and has a valid personal injury suit, but dies before he or she has a chance to pursue the action? This largely depends on how the person died. If the person dies due to causes unrelated to the accident injuries, then the claim may still be pursued by the personal representative or executor of the victim’s estate. Meanwhile, if the person dies as a result of his or her accident injuries, then family members may have the ability to seek wrongful death damages.
Can I file a wrongful death suit relating to the death of an unborn fetus? This depends on the facts of the case. In the state of California, family members cannot pursue wrongful death claims relating to an unborn fetus. Deceased infants can only become the subject of a wrongful death suit after they were born.
What is the difference between civil and criminal cases when it comes to a wrongful death suit? A criminal case is pursued by the government in order to hold a person criminally accountable for a crime that results in a death. If the person is convicted of crimes relating to the death, he or she will be punished by serving jail time and/or other types of punishments. In a civil case, family members of the deceased accident victims can seek monetary compensation from the person or party responsible for the individual’s death. The civil lawsuit will not result in criminal punishments, but it could result in the defendant needing to pay the victims financial restitution. Also, it should be noted that evidence from criminal lawsuits can be used against defendants in civil cases.
California residents who feel they have a viable claim for damages relating to the deaths of their loved ones should bring their questions to a personal injury attorney for an answer that reflects their unique situations.
Source: FindLaw, “Wrongful death FAQ,” accessed Sep. 28, 2015