Atwater Wrongful Death Lawyer

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Discovering that a spouse, child, or parent died in a preventable accident is a traumatic, heart-wrenching event in anyone's life. Unfortunately, fatal automobile accidents are pretty common in and around Atwater. For example, a passenger in a 2005 Honda Civic died after the driver lost control, causing the car to overturn on Highway 99. The victim was only 19 years of age.

This fatal accident illustrates a form of wrongful death. The passenger lost her life through no fault of her own. In fact, her untimely passing appears to have been caused by the driver's negligence. In this situation, the victim's family can file a civil action known as a wrongful death claim against the driver.

Wrongful death actions are distinct from criminal acts where the state charges against the driver, depending on evidence indicating that the driver broke the law. Wrongful death actions are based on the civil justice system, where the primary remedy is the payment of monetary compensation to the victim's family.

Who Can File an Action for Wrongful Death in California?

In the case of a wrongful death action, only certain loved ones can bring a claim. These people are usually entitled to the deceased's property if they die without a will. The deceased's surviving closest relatives can bring a wrongful death lawsuit.

The first person entitled to bring an action is the deceased's spouse. Next are the deceased's children, dependent stepchildren, or any minors who have lived under the deceased's roof for over half a year. Next are the deceased's parents.

If none of these people are available, the right of action falls to the deceased's siblings and their children, grandparents, and children of a spouse who has passed away.

The personal representative of the deceased's estate can bring the wrongful death action on behalf of any of these people. Then, the proceeds from the lawsuit will be distributed to them according to California's wrongful death statute provisions.

Types of Damages Survivors Can Recover in a Wrongful Death Action

A wrongful death claim intends to compensate the deceased's family members for the harms and losses they suffered due to the deceased's sudden and unexpected death. The damages awarded in a wrongful death action are generally divided into economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are measurable losses, including:

  • Any medical expenses accrued in treating the deceased before their death (e.g., if someone is hit by a car and is treated at an emergency room but subsequently passes away).
  • The deceased's dependent would have received damages for financial benefits if the deceased were alive. This is usually calculated with the deceased's or the claimant's, whichever is shorter.
  • The funeral home and other burial expenses.
  • The monetary worth of services the deceased would have provided.

Non-economic losses are harder to quantify. A skilled Atwater wrongful death lawyer can help convey those non-economic harms to a judge and jury. The types of recoverable non-economic damages in a wrongful death claim include:

  • The loss of care for the deceased's heirs results from the deceased's death. This can include advice, training, love, assistance, and protection they would have gotten if the deceased were alive.
  • The loss of companionship and support for the deceased's spouse, both emotionally and financially.

Sometimes, punitive damages are awarded in wrongful death actions. They are usually awarded when there is clear evidence indicating that the defendant engaged in genuinely egregious and shocking behavior that showed a complete disregard for the health and safety of others. An example is when the at-fault driver was heavily intoxicated and traveling well over the posted speed limit on State Route 99 or another road in Atwater.

For more on a wrongful death claim, watch the following video:

File a Wrongful Death Claim Sooner Than Later

In California, the limitation period for bringing a civil action for wrongful death is two years from the date of death of your loved one. If you try to file a lawsuit after two years have passed, you risk a judge throwing your case out of court entirely.

Work with an Atwater Wrongful Death Attorney

If your family was deprived of a loved one due to another party's negligence, contact our legal team at We offer compassionate, free, and friendly case advice. Our skilled Atwater wrongful death attorneys are available by phone at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400. See our past cases on our Verdicts and Settlements page.

Editor's Note: updated [cha 8.24.23] Photo by GoranH on Pixabay sb rey [cs 759]

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