Proving wrongful death cases in California involves assessing two fundamental issues. Number one would be fault. In other words who’s to blame for causing the loss of human life? In the law that’s called liability.
Number two, assessing the loss itself, the loss of the human life. In the law we call that the damages. And talking about fault in a wrongful death case it can range from the most simple cases such as an automobile collision to those involving highly complex issues such as a structural collapse like a bridge collapsing or a building collapsing or something of that sort in which case the lawyer will need to engage a highly competent and specialized team of experts to assess liability, to assess who’s at fault, what caused the accident? What caused the loss of life? And turning to the issue of loss itself or damages, the first and fundamental question has to be, are you even the proper client? It may sound obvious but for example distant relatives don’t qualify typically in wrongful death claim cases as being the appropriate client.
Even people who live together for many years but have not either married or registered themselves as a domestic couple may not be eligible either. Generally what happens is the law follows the law of inheritance within the state so the closest relatives typically are those who are the proper party to wrongful death lawsuit such as of course a spouse, children etc. The other thing is that wrongful death cases are not always the same when it comes to damages so some lawsuits involve a for example a spouse and a loved one who were extremely close had a long loving relationship. Another example there might be a spouse that was estranged, still married yet really had no relationship with the decedent so that has to be assessed as well in evaluating the loss or the damages.
So those are some of the fundamental questions that must be addressed in California when looking into a wrongful death claim.