In the last few days several automobile accidents in Orange County have left two people dead and six people in the hospital because of accident-related injuries. According to a local news report, a crash in Cypress between a Chevrolet Camaro and an Amazon delivery vehicle left one dead and two in the hospital over the weekend. Additionally, another person was killed and four were injured when a rollover crash occurred on the 91 Freeway in Anaheim. Both crashes are still being investigated by law enforcement.
Injuries Vary Depending on Pre-Existing Conditions
No two car accidents are exactly the same, and the mechanism for injury is often different from one accident to the next. For example, some vehicle occupants and drivers may have pre-existing conditions that make them more susceptible to injury than the “average” person. Even within the same vehicle after a severe car crash, different passengers can have very different injuries. As referenced above, in these two separate accidents the impact proved fatal for at least one occupant while the others received hospital treatment and will likely recover.
It is well known that the older population generally have medical conditions (such as osteoarthritis) that can make them more susceptible to injury. Insurance companies love to ignore this fact and will often argue it was not the accident that caused the need for medical treatment, it was the underlying, pre-existing condition that lead to the need for medical care. What this ignores is the “egg-shell” plaintiff doctrine in California. What this means, in simple terms, is that the defendant (the one causing the accident) takes the party they injure as they find them. Even if a plaintiff may have suffered more damage than a healthy person, she must still receive damages that would reasonably and fairly compensate them for ALL damages caused by the defendant in the car crash, not just those that would have happened to a healthy victim.
Family Members May Bring an Action for Wrongful Death
In the event an automobile accident takes the life of an innocent victim, the surviving family members may bring an action for wrongful death under California law. While there is a statutory authority allowing for such a lawsuit, at common law such a claim did not exist. So, the law allowing for a wrongful death action in California also spells out who may bring such a lawsuit and what damages may be recovered.
In general, the surviving spouse and any children have the right to bring an action for wrongful death after a fatal automobile accident takes the life of their loved one. In their absence, the claim may be brought by any surviving parents. If there are no surviving parents then the action for wrongful death may be brought by the surviving siblings. The individuals entitled to bring the lawsuit generally follows the same lines as intestate succession, a situation in which someone dies without a will.
It would seem logical that those who bring an action for wrongful death would be able to recover compensation for the grief, sorrow, or mental anguish they suffered because of the death of their loved one. However, those damages are specifically prohibited under California’s wrongful death statutes and related case law. What can be recovered is the loss of the love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, moral support, training and guidance. In the event a surviving spouse pursues the case, they can also recover for the loss of enjoyment of sexual relations. All of these damages are considered “noneconomic” losses under the law.
In addition to noneconomic losses, a surviving family member may also recover for economic damages suffered because of the wrongful death. For example, the financial support, the deceased would have contributed to the family during their lifetime and/or the reasonable value of household services that the decedent would have provided can be recovered. In addition, the cost to the family for the funeral and burial expenses may be recovered in a wrongful death action.
Contact an Experienced Injury Attorney
If you were injured or a loved one killed by a negligent driver, seeking the advice of an experienced malpractice attorney is likely the best first step to take toward obtaining compensation for the injuries and damages suffered. Mr. Ralph has more than 30 years of experience at handling personal injury and auto accident cases in Orange County and the Southern California area. His office is centrally located in Orange County for the convenience of his clients. Mr. Ralph’s services are provided on a contingency basis so if there is no recovery there are no fees. He can be reached for a free consultation by calling the number below or simply sending a message with the details of your potential case.