When a vehicle accident takes the life of your loved one, it is devastating. You know that no amount of money can “fix” what has been done. Nevertheless, your loved one and your family have still suffered a great loss, including potentially massive economic damage. To be sure that your family has the opportunity to get everything that the law says you’re entitled to, you have to make sure you are going about it the right way procedurally, which is why it pays to rely on the skill and knowledge of an experienced Oakland wrongful death attorney.
A fatal incident that took place in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood on New Year’s Eve is a reminder of how devastating these accidents can be. Two vehicles, a Honda and a Ford, met at an intersection. The Ford had the green light, but the driver of the Honda didn’t stop. The impact sent the Honda into two female pedestrians who were crossing in the crosswalk. One woman died at the scene, while the second died later at a hospital, according to a KPIX report.
The driver of the Honda fled on foot, but the police captured him a short time later. The state charged the driver of the Honda with an array of charges, including: “two counts of voluntary manslaughter, two counts of hit and run, driving a stolen vehicle, driving under the influence of drugs, two counts of DUI causing injury, speeding, running a red light, burglary” and other weapons and drug crimes, according to KPIX.
The younger of the two women, who died at the hospital, was a 27-year-old data engineer who came to the United States from Japan. In addition to supporting herself, the woman used part of her income to support her family in Japan, including a father with an aortic condition and a mother with lung cancer.
In a fatal accident case, if the wrongdoer who caused the harm was engaged in felony criminal action at the time, there may be an opportunity for punitive damages.
To get everything to which you may be entitled, including an award of punitive damages, you have to know the correct method for seeking those damages. For example, here in California, there are two actions that can arise from a case like this: wrongful death and survival.
The difference between wrongful death and survival lawsuits
Wrongful death is the lawsuit that seeks to compensate immediate family for the loss they have suffered. In California, the people who can file a wrongful death action include the deceased’s surviving spouse and his/her children. If the deceased had no surviving spouse and no surviving children, then his/her parents are entitled to file. There may be others who can file in some situations, such as a stepchild who was dependent on their now-deceased stepparent or a grandchild (if the grandchild’s parents are dead.)
There are several types of damages you can obtain in a wrongful death claim. These include funeral/burial costs, medical expenses associated with the fatal injury, lost financial support and legal/court costs, among other things.
One thing that you cannot get in a wrongful death action is punitive damages. Punitive damages are available in California, but they are only available in a survival, not a wrongful death, lawsuit. A survival action is the case that addresses the harm done to the deceased. For that reason, this type of lawsuit must be brought on behalf of the deceased’s estate.
In addition to possible punitive damages, this is also where you can seek compensation for other things, as well, like your loved one’s medical expenses incurred before her death.
When you’ve lost a loved one due to a tragic accident, you are undoubtedly going through a horrific time. While money won’t bring back your loved one, that doesn’t change the fact that some of the harm your family has suffered is financial. When it comes to seeking the compensation the law says you deserve, count on the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch. Attorney Fuerch is a seasoned Oakland wrongful death attorney who has helped numerous families over the years, and is here to help you, too. Contact this office through our website or call (925) 463-2575 to schedule your confidential initial consultation today.