Driver Error and Wrongful Death

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March 20, 2018
Edward Smith

Driver Error and Wrongful Death

Driver Error and Wrongful Death

I’m Ed Smith, a Lodi wrongful death lawyer. Driver error is the reason for most motor vehicle accidents. When a loved one dies as a result of another driver’s negligence, it can result in a wrongful death lawsuit that compensates the bereaved family for their loss.

Proving a Wrongful Death

There are various elements that comprise the definition of a wrongful death in California. If all of these elements can be shown, surviving family members of someone who died as a result of negligence are entitled to seek financial compensation for their loss:

  • Another individual or entity caused the death of your loved one.
  • This individual had the duty of care to not act in any way that would endanger another person.
  • The individual failed in that duty.
  • Family members suffered a financial loss due to the death of that person.
  • A representative has been appointed to handle the decedent’s estate.

Persons Eligible to File for Wrongful Death

Under California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60, the following family members may be eligible for financial compensation following the wrongful death of a relative:

  • The spouse or domestic partner
  • Children of the decedent or their children if the child is deceased
  • Other dependants who relied on the decedent for at least 50 percent of their income such as stepchildren or parents
  • Other minors who relied on at least 50 percent of their financial support from the decedent for at least 180 days

Reasons for a Wrongful Death in a Motor Vehicle Accident

Driver error is found responsible in about 94 percent of all traffic accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). An additional 2 percent are attributed to problems with the vehicle, 2 percent to environmental factors and the remaining 2 percent to unknown causes. Under the statute of limitations, those wishing to file a wrongful death claim due to a motor vehicle accident have to file within two years. After that amount of time elapses, the court will not hear the case. Driver related errors are as follows:

  • Distracted driving such as texting and driving
  • Drunk driving, which is defined as someone with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 or higher
  • Drugged driving, whether illegal, prescription or nonprescription drugs
  • Speeding or driving too fast for the road, weather or traffic conditions
  • Disobeying traffic laws such as running a stop sign or other types of reckless driving
  • Overcompensation, lane drifting, etc.
  • Drowsy driving from feeling sleepy or daydreaming to falling asleep while driving
  • Falsely assuming that another driver will take a certain action
  • Inadequate surveillance of the road ahead

Reasons for Motor Vehicle Deaths Outside of Driver Error

The NHTSA reports that about 2 percent of motor vehicle deaths are caused by environmental factors. These may include poorly maintained roads, weather conditions, glare, poor road design or problems with signals or signs. When the death has been caused by negligence on the part of a government entity such as the city, county or state, compensation may also be sought by the family. Claims against a government entity for a road or other defect that caused a wrongful death have a different timeline in which to file a claim. In these cases, the individual must file the claim within 180 days. The government entity has 45 days to respond. If that entity refuses the claim or does not respond, the individual has another six months in which to file.

Related Articles by Lodi Wrongful Death Lawyer, Ed Smith:

Lodi Wrongful Death Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Lodi wrongful death lawyer. Losing a loved one is a daunting experience that is compounded when another person’s negligence caused that loss. If this happened to your family, please call for free, friendly advice. The number is (209) 227-1931 in Lodi and (800) 404-5400 outside the area code.

My client feedback is available for your viewing at:

I am a trial attorney listed with the Million Dollar Advocates, a forum reserved for those who have obtained trial verdicts or case settlements for former clients of at least $1 million.

You may find information on my past cases on my Verdicts and Settlements page.

Photo Attribution: By “Meditations” via Pixabay

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