November 19, 2021

Suffered a Wrongful Death in the Family Due to an Intoxicated Driver?

California’s wrongful death law allows for recovery of damages when a family member dies in a car accident that was caused by the carelessness and negligence of another driver. The situation becomes even more troublesome if that driver was intoxicated at the time of the crash. Although he or she is likely to be prosecuted in the criminal courts for a homicide, a civil lawsuit for damages can also be brought for wrongful death. Given the fact that alcohol, drugs or combination of the two was involved, California might even allow our California wrongful death lawyer to pursue punitive damages.

Proving Guilt

There are two different burdens of proof in the criminal and civil cases. In the criminal case, the at-fault driver might be imprisoned, so the prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, there is no chance of in incarceration, so our Irvine wrongful death attorneys for decedent’s family must prove its case by a preponderance of the evidence. That means the case against the at-fault driver is more likely true than not true. Certain evidence from a criminal case might be used in a civil case too, so that can make proof of fault less complicated. Still, a California wrongful death attorney must prove the following elements:

  • A duty of care was owed by the at-fault driver to the decedent.
  • That duty was breached.
  • The breach of duty caused the accident.
  • Injuries suffered in the accident caused the decedent’s death.
  • The at-fault driver was under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both at the time of the crash.
  • The decedent’s family suffered damages as a result of his or her death.

Damages

California’s wrongful death law doesn’t allow for punitive damages. It allows awards for funeral and burial expenses, the decedent’s lost income and damages for his or her lost companionship and emotional support. Punitive damages might be sought under California’s survival statute though for damages incurred by the decedent from the time of the accident until the time of his or her passing. These are likely to be substantial.

You’ll best protect your family’s future by contacting the experienced and effective California wrongful death lawyers at Brockmeier Law Group for a free consultation and case review after the death of a loved one by an intoxicated driver. You’ll be advised of all of your legal options.