Losing a loved one to a drunk driving accident is devastating. Your family will never be the same again.
Criminal charges against the drunk driver who caused the crash can bring justice. But a prison sentence cannot make up for your spouse’s contributions to the family income. It cannot compensate you or your children for the loss of their companionship, guidance and support. That is where wrongful death litigation comes in. A civil lawsuit against the driver and their auto insurance company can help relieve the financial burden their actions placed on your family.
Three elements of wrongful death litigation
To get a favorable verdict or out-of-court settlement in Southern California, you must prove by a preponderance of the evidence:
- Someone died
- The death was the result of the defendant’s negligence or intent to cause harm
- The deceased’s family members are suffering monetary injury as a result of the death
The decision to drive while impaired by alcohol is a negligent act because it falls below the standard duty of care a California driver owes others on the road. Alcohol saps a driver’s awareness, concentration, reflexes and judgment. Drunk driving is never safe, and doing so anyway should make a driver liable for any harm they cause others.
Proving intent to cause harm is not necessary
Note that you do not have to prove that the driver intended to injure your loved one. Negligence is not about hurting someone intentionally; it is about making dangerous choices that create conditions that lead to harm.
The personal representative of the deceased’s estate is the person with standing to file a wrongful death claim on the deceased’s behalf. Surviving spouses and children can also file claims based on their own damages, such as loss of companionship and loss of support.