According to the National Safety Council, the number of deaths that occur on California roadways is on the incline. From 2015 to 2016, the number rose by 13 percent, which is more than double the national rate. Sadly, this increase is not a huge surprise. The 405, which has been dubbed “the busiest freeway in the nation,” sees an average of 379,000 vehicles each day. That is just one freeway in a state with dozens.
That said, though the number of drivers on California roadways certainly contributes to the rising death rates, the issue cannot be placed solely on population. California drivers have known to be aggressive, erratic, and just plain negligent. For most, such behavior is irritating but not harmful. For others, however, such behavior can be deadly. When negligent, aggressive, or reckless driving leads to the death of another person, the negligent party may find him or herself the defendant of a wrongful death lawsuit.
Causes of Wrongful Death Auto Accidents
A wrongful death auto accident can stem from any number of seemingly innocent actions. For instance, a teenaged driver may take out his or her cell phone to call Mom or Dad for directions and, because he is not looking at the road, run into a pedestrian. A person who is late for work may be driving just a little too fast and, when she goes to switch lanes, sideswipe an oncoming vehicle because she forgot to check her blind spot. Defendants in wrongful death cases are typically not criminals—they’re just people who made a mistake. Some common causes of wrongful death car accidents include:
● Distracted driving;
● Texting while driving;
● Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
● Driving while tired;
● Poor or invisible signage;
● Poorly built or poorly maintained roadways;
● Lack of warning for a road hazard;
● Vehicle defects;
● Overloaded trucks;
● Inexperienced driving; and
● Reckless driving.
Wrongful death cases often involve individuals, but every once in a while, the defendant named in a suit is a government entity or company. When government entities or organizations are involved, it is not uncommon for the claim to name one or more defendants.
Verdicts and Settlements in Wrongful Death Auto Accident Cases
The verdicts and settlements awarded in wrongful death auto accident cases vary greatly and are dependent upon a number of factors. Some such factors include the age of the victim at the time of death, the health of the victim at the time of death, and the victim’s earning capacity. Additionally, the decision maker will consider the circumstances surrounding the victim’s death and how greatly it impacted the family members. For instance, in 2009, a little girl was forced to watch her family burn to death after a horrific accident on a Southern California freeway. She and her older brother were the only survivors of the incident. Her brother committed suicide on their mother’s birthday, right before the trial began. She was awarded $150 million in damages.
Every wrongful death case is unique, as no one victim is the same. For this reason, it is difficult to calculate a potential settlement.
Work With a Compassionate Wrongful Death Attorney
Losing a loved one is never easy, especially when that loss creates a financial burden. California law allows grieving family members to pursue compensation from the liable party via legal means. If you wish to pursue an auto accident wrongful death claim, reach out to the Orange County wrongful death attorneys at RMD Law for professional assistance and advice at this difficult time in your life.