What You Can Do If You Have Lost a Loved One in a Fatal Accident

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Practice Areas: Auto Accident, Personal Injury, Trucking Accident, Wrongful Death

There were 37,261 fatalities caused as a result of car accidents in the United States in the year 2008. Sadly, 220 of those fatalities were in Riverside County California. National statistics that have been collected for alcohol involved fatal accidents show us that alcohol involvement in fatal accidents is finally starting to decline. Nonetheless, over half (101) of the fatal car accidents in Riverside County in 2008 involved alcohol.

Of the remaining fatal accidents, another 48 were non-alcohol related car accidents, 30 were pedestrian accidents, 9 were bicycle accidents and 32 were motorcycle accidents. We can only assume that each one of those 220 people that lost their lives in a fatal accident left behind grieving loved ones and families that will suffer the financial and emotional loss of their loved one for years to come.

What Rights Do Surviving Family Members Have?

We are frequently asked what legal rights do the surviving family members of a fatal car accident have. Under California law, the surviving family members have the right to file a wrongful death claim. The following people are entitled to file as a claimant under the laws of the State of California:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Children
  • Issue of the deceased children
  • Persons who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession if there are no surviving issue of the decedent
  • Putative spouse
  • Children of a putative spouse
  • Stepchildren
  • Parents
  • Minors who lived with the decedent for 180 days prior to his death and who were financially dependant on the decedent

Why File a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim cannot bring back your family member, but is may be able to compensate the surviving victims. When a loved one is lost to a car accident, many people are lost in the emotional grieving and do not think about the fact that they may suffer financially for years to come.

If the decedent was your spouse, then it is likely that you depended on him or her financially or to take care of the home so that you could work. If the decedent was a parent, then you may have been depending on them for your financial needs now or in the future.

Negligence, Liability and Statute of Limitations

If the accident was caused by another driver’s negligence, then they are responsible for compensating the surviving family members for their losses. It may seem like the last thing that you want to do after losing a loved one, but the best thing you can do is speak to an experienced injury and wrongful death lawyer.

There are time frames within which you must file a claim and it would truly be unjust to lose your rights to be compensated because you missed the filing deadline. In California, the statue of limitations is generally two years from the date of the accident, but it is important to have plenty of time to prepare a case.

If you would like an experienced personal injury and wrongful death lawyer to evaluate your situation and advise you as to whether you may have a viable case, please contact Emery Ledger of Ledger & Associates at 1-800-300-0001 or visit him online at www.ledgerlaw.com.

From the Author: The Ledger Law Firm

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