The California Office of Public Safety indicates there were 3,074 traffic fatalities during 2014. Traveling by car, truck, or motorcycle is an inherently dangerous activity, and when crashes occur, people can lose their lives. Losing a family member or loved one in an accident is never easy and no amount of financial compensation can ever make things right. However, the practical reality is that losing a loved one often results in economic losses. In many cases, a civil lawsuit is the only way to hold a negligent party responsible for their actions.

California’s wrongful death statute allows certain surviving family members to bring a legal action against a person or party that negligently causes the death of a loved one. Most wrongful death cases arising from car accidents allege that another driver, a car manufacturer, or the party responsible for the maintenance of the roadway was negligent. Below we discuss some of the ways in which these claims arise. For more information, please call our office today.

Other Drivers can Negligently Cause Accidents

A substantial number of accidents are caused by the negligent actions of other drivers. Some of the more common forms of driver negligence include the following:

  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Failing to yield
  • Poor vehicle maintenance
  • Driving without headlights
  • Driver fatigue
  • Driving under the influence
  • Failing to signal a turn or lane change
  • Following too closely
  • Failing to account for poor weather

After a fatal accident, a victim’s family must establish the other driver was negligent in order to recover damages. In cases where this issue is contested, doing so may require a significant amount of investigation. It may be necessary to review vehicle computer data, surveillance footage that may have captured the accident, eyewitness accounts, or even to employ the assistance of an accident reconstruction expert in order to do so. Additionally, the fact that a particular accident was the result of negligence may not always be clear to the untrained eye. For these reasons and others, it is critical for family members of car accident victims to speak to an attorney about their options.

Vehicle Defects Can Lead to Accidents

Vehicle defects are another common cause of fatal car accidents. These defects tend to take one of three forms: design defects, manufacturing defects, or a manufacturer’s failure to warn consumers about some non-obvious danger that could have been easily mitigated with sufficient warning. In addition, aftermarket defective vehicle equipment can lead to serious accidents.

When these defects cause a fatal accident, the vehicle or equipment manufacturer can often be held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit. Some of the more common defects that cause accidents include the following:

  • Defective brakes;
  • Unstable vehicle design;
  • Defective tires;
  • Problems with steering; or
  • Explosion or fire hazards.

These problems may not be apparent until after an accident has happened and are often difficult to prove. After an accident, family members should meet with an experienced attorney to go over the full history of the vehicle and determine whether there were any potential issues with the vehicle that could have caused or contributed to the accident.

Poorly Designed or Negligently Maintained Roads can Result in Serious Wrecks

Finally, poor roadway design or maintenance can often cause accidents. These kinds of cases tend to be complicated, as most roadways are designed and maintained by public agencies. Whenever a legal claim is asserted against a government agency (such as Caltrans), a special set of legal rules apply. This is because under a legal doctrine known as “sovereign immunity,” the government has protection from lawsuits except to the extent to which it has consented to be sued. One of the special rules is a significantly reduced time limit in which to file a claim, so victims’ families should speak to an attorney immediately. Some of the more common road defects that can cause serious accidents include the following:

  • Defective Brakes;
  • Unstable Vehicle Design;
  • Defective Tires;
  • Problems with steering; or
  • Explosion or fire hazards.

These problems may not be apparent until after an accident has happened and are often difficult to prove. After an accident, family members should meet with an experienced attorney to go over the full history of the vehicle and determine whether there were any potential issues with the vehicle that could have caused or contributed to the accident.

Call GJEL Accident Attorneys Today to Retain a California Wrongful Death Lawyer

If you have lost a loved one in a car accident, you should retain an experienced attorney as soon as possible. In many cases, you may be able to hold the party that caused the loss of your loved one responsible for their negligence and you may recover significant compensation for your losses. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call GJEL Accident Attorneys today at 866-218-3776 or send us an email through our online contact form.