Los Angeles fatal car accident lawyer Allen Vaysberg understands that the ability to fully grieve after the loss of a love one is contingent upon closure. You and your family deserve to celebrate the life of the loved one you lost. Our attorney group focuses on the family of fatal car accident victims, and provides a composed and compassionate shoulder for them to lean on during this incredibly difficult time.
If a loved one was killed due to someone’s negligent or reckless actions, contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.
Fatal car accidents in Los Angeles
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 35,092 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2015. California had the second highest number of traffic deaths with 3,176 deaths in 2,925 fatal crashes. Only Texas exceeded those numbers with 3,516 deaths in 3,124 fatal crashes.
Many Californians continue to pull themselves out of 10 years of economic doldrums. Job growth is expanding, and gasoline prices are at nearly half of what they were at five years ago. Those factors translate into more people on the road and increased chances of serious traffic accidents that lead to fatalities.
Fatal car accidents and wrongful death actions
When a person dies in a motor vehicle accident as the result of the carelessness and negligence of somebody else, a wrongful death case based on negligence should be filed. The person bringing the lawsuit usually alleges common law negligence, and he or she must prove all of its elements. Those are that the person who caused the crash:
- Owed the decedent a duty of care
- Breached that duty of care
- The breach of the duty caused the accident
- The accident was the proximate cause of the decedent’s injuries and death
- The decedent’s estate suffered damages
The wrongful death action
Proving negligence is where the common law ends, and section 377.60 of the California Code of Civil Procedure takes over. Wrongful death is an action created by statute. That’s what makes it unique in comparison with common law negligence. Section 377.60 allows certain specified individuals to file a wrongful death lawsuit and seek damages from the person or entity that allegedly caused a wrongful death. Those damages would include:
- Loss of support
- Loss of services
- Loss of cohabitation
- Funeral and burial expenses
Punitive damages aren’t allowed in a wrongful death case.
The survival action
Survival actions were created by section 377.30 of the California Code of Civil Procedure. They’re permitted when the decedent didn’t die immediately from his or her injuries. Damages may be sought by the decedent’s estate through his or her personal representative or successor in interest. A successor in interest could be a beneficiary of the decedent’s estate or a person who might be entitled to property that is the subject of a cause of action. Those damages might include medical expenses and lost earnings that accrued while he or she was still alive. Pain and suffering and disfigurement are specifically excluded, put punitive damages are permitted in survival actions.
Section 377.60 now allows a decedent’s surviving domestic partner to bring a wrongful death action for the death of his or her domestic partner. Except for claims arising before January 1, 2002, the partnership must have been registered with the Secretary of State.
The statute of limitations
A wrongful death case must be filed within two years of the decedent’s date of death. The survival action statute of limitations runs for from two years of the date of injury or six months from the date of death, whichever is later. They are two types of counts that can be joined together in a single lawsuit, and there can be two different filing deadlines. Those are strict deadlines with very few exceptions. Failure to file your lawsuit within one or both of those deadlines can prevent you from recovering damages.
Insurance companies make money by accepting premiums and paying out as little as possible or even nothing at all on claims. An adjuster for the liable party’s insurance company might contact you shortly after your family member’s burial “to see how you’re doing now.” Then he or she will ask you to provide a recorded statement detailing what you know about the occurrence. That adjuster only wants to use your statement against you sometime in the future. No law in California requires you to give that statement, so don’t believe anything that an adjuster might say about it being necessary. Politely refuse to provide it, and call us right away. Anything that you say to us is privileged and confidential.
Contact an experienced fatal car accident lawyer
If you have suffered the loss of a family member as a result of the carelessness and negligence of somebody else, you’ll want to act quickly. Evidence can get lost or destroyed, and witnesses might move far away or even die themselves. The stakes are high in any wrongful death case. You want a dedicated, successful, aggressive and compassionate legal team working on your behalf. We realize that you’re stunned and grieving, but the sooner that you begin the legal process the better your case will be postured. You don’t need any money to contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation. There’s no obligation either. Don’t hesitate to contact us about any auto accident case in Los Angeles or anywhere in California.