California had the highest number of pedestrian fatalities in 2017, according to the NHTSA. The state continues to lead the nation in the number of pedestrians killed each year. The death of a family member is devastating financially and emotionally for families. California’s wrongful death statutes provide a way for family members to seek compensation and justice for their loss with the help of an experienced California pedestrian wrongful death attorney.
In this article, our California pedestrian attorney discusses several topics that can assist families if they have lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident. Topics covered include:
- Pedestrian deaths causes in California
- Proving the Elements of Fault in a Pedestrian Wrongful Death Case
- Compensation Available in Wrongful Death Cases Involving Pedestrians
- How a California Pedestrian Accident Attorney Can Help Your Family with a Wrongful Death Claim
Pedestrian deaths causes in CaliforniaThere are many causes of pedestrian deaths in California. Most pedestrian deaths are the result of a motor vehicle accident. Because a pedestrian is defenseless when struck by a vehicle, the injuries are traumatic and often fatal. Pedestrians struck by larger vehicles, like SUVs and trucks, have a higher chance of sustaining fatal injuries.
Some of the causes of pedestrian-vehicle accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving (drugs and/or alcohol)
- Reckless driving
- Fatigued or drowsy driving
- Ignoring traffic signs and signals
- Failing to yield the right of way at crosswalks
- Parking lot accidents
- Passing stopped school buses
Regardless of the cause, if a driver was negligent or careless, the driver may be held liable for the damages caused by the pedestrian accident.
Proving the Elements of Fault in a Pedestrian Wrongful Death CaseTo recover compensation in a wrongful death case, you must prove the elements of fault and negligence. The legal elements in a wrongful death case are:
- Duty of Care — The driver owed a duty of care to the pedestrian to obey traffic laws and operate the vehicle safely to avoid causing risk or injury to others using the road.
- Breach of the Duty of Care — The driver breached the doing of care because of negligence or other wrongdoing. For instance, the driver failed to stop at a crosswalk or was distracted because the driver was texting while driving.
- Causation — There must be evidence proving that the breach of duty caused the death. In a pedestrian accident, the evidence must prove that the pedestrian sustained fatal injuries because of the crash.
- Damages — The pedestrian’s surviving family members must suffer damages as a result of the wrongful death. In most cases, the family incurs substantial financial losses and noneconomic damages.
Compensation Available in Wrongful Death Cases Involving PedestriansCertain surviving family members are entitled to compensation for damages under California’s wrongful death statute. Surviving spouses, children, and other family members may file a pedestrian wrongful death claim seeking compensation for damages including:
- Reimbursement for reasonable costs related to the funeral and burial
- The loss of income and benefits the person would have earned during his or her lifetime had the pedestrian accident had not occurred
- Loss of services and financial support for the household, including domestic chores, caring for children, and other contributions to the family
- Loss of consortium, including loss of love, support, affection, guidance, and other intangible support
Calculating the value of a pedestrian wrongful death claim can be difficult. In most cases, a financial or economic expert is necessary to estimate the amount of future loss of income and benefits. Loss of income and benefits is based on several factors, including the age, education, skills, and employment history of the victim. Also, inflation and other economic projections impact the value of the financial losses caused by a wrongful death.
While it is impossible for family members to place a value on a loved one’s contribution to the family, wrongful death attorneys understand how the wrongful death laws value these damages.
How a California Pedestrian Accident Attorney Can Help Your Family with a Wrongful Death ClaimWrongful death cases involving pedestrians can be complicated. While the cause of the accident may be apparent, the driver may allege that the pedestrian was partially at fault for his or her injuries. For instance, the driver may have collided with the pedestrian, but the pedestrian failed to use adequate caution when crossing the road or the pedestrian was distracted and failed to keep a proper lookout when crossing the road. If a driver can prove that the pedestrian was partially at fault for the cause of the accident, the compensation the family might be entitled to receive could be substantially reduced.
In some cases, proving negligence or fault could be complicated. An attorney conducts a thorough investigation to determine fault. Some of the steps a pedestrian accident attorney may take when investigating a crash include:
- Reviewing evidence from the accident scene
- Obtaining and reviewing copies of accident reports and police reports
- Searching for and obtaining copies of videos of the accident from traffic cameras, red-light cameras, and surrounding surveillance cameras
- Interviewing and deposing eyewitnesses
- Working with accident reconstructionists and other experts to determine the exact cause of the pedestrian accident
- Obtaining and reviewing medical records and consulting with physicians regarding the cause of death
A California pedestrian accident attorney who handles wrongful death accidents has the skills, resources, and experience to uncover the truth about how the accident occurred. The truth often leads to the evidence necessary to prove the driver was negligent and at-fault for causing the death of a pedestrian.
The Lawyers of Thompson Law Office Assist Families in Seeking Justice for Their Loved OnesWhen a family loses a loved one, it can be difficult for the family members to focus on legal matters. However, California’s statute of limitations places time limits on filing wrongful death lawsuits. Therefore, it is important for the family to contact an attorney to discuss their legal options.
While compensation will not reduce the suffering caused by a wrongful death, it can help the family recover from the financial hardship that a sudden death can cause. A wrongful death lawsuit also helps family members find some measure of closure as they seek to hold the person responsible for the death of their loved one accountable for the person’s actions.
If your family member was killed in a pedestrian accident, contact our office by calling 1-650-513-6111 for a free consultation with a California pedestrian accident lawyer.