Fatal Motorcycle Accident: How to File for Wrongful Death in LA
The loss of a loved one due to a fatal motorcycle accident is a horrific experience. Sadly, motorcycles do not offer riders the necessary amount of protection to keep them safe while on the road. A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shares motorcycle accident statistics that indicate that riders are 27% more likely to die in automobile accidents than occupants in passenger cars.
The Legal Information Institute (LII) defines wrongful death as a “civil cause of action brought by family members and dependents against individuals who knowingly or negligently cause the death of another person.” If a loved one’s death is caused by driver error or their negligent actions, a wrongful death claim may be filed against the at-fault party on their behalf.
In this article, we will discuss:
- How to file a wrongful death claim in Los Angeles
- Statute of limitation for a wrongful death claim
- Legal requirements to file a wrongful death claim in Los Angeles
- Who can file a wrongful death claim after a fatal motorcycle accident?
- Recoverable damages in a wrongful death claim
- Tips for finding an experienced motorcycle accident attorney
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Los Angeles
As previously mentioned, if your loved one’s deadly motorcycle accident is the result of another party’s negligence, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf. Before filing a claim, certain steps need to be taken into consideration, such as:
1. Determine if you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim
In California, certain family members are eligible to file a wrongful death claim, including the deceased person’s spouse, domestic partner, children, and parents. It is important to note that there are strict time limits for filing a wrongful death claim, so it is crucial to act quickly.
2. Hire a personal injury attorney
Hire an experienced wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles to handle your case. An attorney can guide you through the legal process, investigate the circumstances surrounding the fatal crash, and help you determine the appropriate compensation you may be entitled to.
3. Gather evidence
Collecting evidence related to the motorcycle accident death is critical in building a strong case. This may include medical records, witness statements, police reports, and any other relevant documentation.
4. File a claim
Your motorcycle accident lawyer will file a wrongful death claim on your behalf. The claim will outline the circumstances surrounding the death, the negligence or wrongdoing of the responsible party, and the damages you are seeking.
5. Negotiate a settlement or go to trial
After filing a claim, you and the defendant (the person or entity responsible for the death) may enter into settlement negotiations. If a settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer may file a motorcycle accident lawsuit, and the case may go to trial.
Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Claim
In California, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is generally two years from the date of the person’s death. This means that the claim must be filed within two years of the date of the death, or it may be barred by law.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the wrongful death was caused by medical malpractice, the statute of limitations may be extended to three years from the date of the injury, or one year from the date that the plaintiff discovers or should have discovered the injury, whichever comes first.
It’s important to note that there may be other factors that can impact the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in California, such as the age or mental capacity of the plaintiff or the involvement of government entities.
The laws governing wrongful death claims can be complex. Therefore, it is recommended that you consult with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the specific requirements of your case.
Legal Requirements to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Los Angeles
To file a wrongful death claim in Los Angeles, several legal requirements must be met. These requirements include:
- Eligibility – After a motorcycle fatality, only certain individuals have the legal standing to file a wrongful death claim in California. This typically includes the surviving spouse, children, or parents of the deceased.
- Negligence or intentional act – To file a wrongful death claim, the death must have been caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions of the defendant.
- Causation – There must be a causal connection between the at-fault party’s negligent or reckless actions and the victim’s death. In other words, the plaintiff (deceased’s loved ones) must show that the death would not have occurred if not for the negligence of the other party.
- Damages – The plaintiff must be able to prove that they suffered damages as a result of the death. This can include financial damages such as medical bills and lost income, as well as non-economic damages such as emotional distress and loss of companionship.
- Statute of limitations – As mentioned earlier, a wrongful death claim in California – must be filed within two years of the date of the death, or within three years if the claim is based on medical malpractice.
It’s important to note that these legal requirements can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim After a Fatal Motorcycle Accident?
If your loved one was the victim of a fatal traffic accident, you may be eligible to file a claim on their behalf. The following parties have the legal right to file a wrongful death claim after a fatal motorcycle accident:
The surviving spouse of the deceased is eligible to file a wrongful death claim. The surviving spouse is considered an “immediate family member” under California law.
California law states that children are considered “immediate family members” as well. Surviving children of the deceased have the right to seek compensation for the loss of their parent. It is important to note that if the deceased person had a surviving spouse, the surviving spouse would have priority over the children in filing a wrongful death claim. However, if the surviving spouse does not file a wrongful death claim within a certain period of time, the children may be able to file the claim.
If the deceased did not have a surviving spouse or children, their parents may be able to file a wrongful death claim. In this case, the deceased’s surviving parents would become the primary beneficiaries.
If none of the above individuals are able or willing to file a wrongful death claim, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate may file the claim on behalf of the estate.
Recoverable Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
The types of damages that a plaintiff may recover after their loved one’s fatal accident can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case. However, some of the most common types of damages that may be available in a wrongful death claim include:
Compensation for medical expenses in a wrongful death claim is typically awarded to cover the costs of medical treatment that the collision victim received as a result of the fatal injury or illness that led to their death. These expenses can include hospital bills, doctor’s fees, prescription medications, rehabilitation costs, and more.
Loss of income
When a person dies due to the negligence or intentional act of another person, the surviving family members or beneficiaries may be entitled to compensation for the loss of income that the deceased person would have earned had they not died.
To determine the amount of compensation for loss of income, the court will typically consider the deceased person’s income at the time of their death, as well as their projected future income, taking into account factors such as their age, education, skills, and work history. The court may also consider the deceased person’s earning potential, including the likelihood of future promotions or pay increases.
The amount of compensation for burial expenses in a wrongful death claim can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case, such as the cost of the funeral and burial, the customs and traditions of the deceased person’s community or religion, and any other relevant factors.
Loss of consortium
Loss of consortium refers to the loss of companionship, love, affection, and other emotional support that the surviving family members experience as a result of the death of their loved one. In a wrongful death claim, compensation for loss of consortium is meant to provide financial compensation to the surviving family members for the intangible losses they have suffered as a result of their loved one’s death.
This type of compensation is only awarded in cases where the at-fault party’s actions were particularly egregious or intentional. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for their actions and deter others from engaging in similar behavior in the future. Unlike compensatory damages, which are meant to compensate the plaintiff for their losses, punitive damages are designed to punish and deter the defendant.
The purpose of compensation in a wrongful death claim is to provide financial support to the surviving family members or beneficiaries of the deceased person who have suffered a loss as a result of the wrongful act or negligence of another person.
Tips For Finding an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Should you choose to file a claim after your loved one’s fatal motorcycle crash, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. Here are some tips that may help you find an appropriate lawyer:
- Ask for referrals: Ask friends, family members, or coworkers if they know of any reputable motorcycle accident attorneys in Los Angeles. You can also check online reviews and ratings to see what other people have to say about specific attorneys.
- Look for experience: It is important to look for an attorney who has experience handling motorcycle accident cases specifically. Ask the attorney about their experience and success rate in handling these types of cases.
- Consider their reputation: Look for an attorney who has a good reputation in the legal community and who is known for being a strong advocate for their clients.
- Schedule a consultation: Many attorneys offer free consultations to prospective clients. Schedule a consultation with a few different attorneys to discuss your case and see if they are a good fit for you.
- Ask about fees: It is important to understand how the attorney charges for their services and what their fees will be. Some attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only get paid if they win your case, while others charge a flat fee or hourly rate.
- Trust your instincts: Ultimately, it’s important to choose an attorney who you feel comfortable working with and who you trust to represent your interests. If something feels off or you don’t feel like the attorney is the right fit for you, don’t be afraid to look for someone else.
Hire an Award-Winning Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today!
These types of accidents can be traumatizing for the family and friends of the deceased. If your loved one was the victim of a wrongful death due to the negligent actions of another party, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf. To file a strong wrongful death claim, hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer is in your best interest.
At Motorcyclist Attorney, our aggressive wrongful death motorcycle accident lawyers are committed to helping motorcycle accident victims get the medical care and compensation they need and deserve.
We are committed to winning. We work on a contingency basis and offer our clients a No Fee Guarantee policy. This means you won’t need to pay us a single cent unless we win!
Contact us at (310) 752-5607 for a free case consultation. We are available 24/7!