A vehicle crash that leaves one or more people dead is always a tragedy. That loss can feel all the more tragic when the accident was the result of another driver's negligence and unsafe conduct behind the wheel. When that happens, your family has inevitably suffered an enormous loss that you can't put a number on. Nevertheless, your family has incurred certain specific losses and an experienced Santa Barbara wrongful death lawyer can help you get justice for that.
One recent crash from here in Santa Barbara County is a potential example of a fatality resulting from driver negligence.
The crash occurred along Highway 246 in the Santa Ynez Valley. According to the California Highway Patrol, a 71-year-old man from Buellton, who was driving a Honda sedan, made "an unsafe U-turn." This resulted in the sedan making contact with the Honda SUV that was behind the man. The SUV then left the road and slammed into an oak tree, killing the 73-year-old woman who was driving the SUV. The passenger in the SUV, a 73-year-old woman from Duarte, suffered moderate injuries in the accident, according to an edhat.com report.
In many types of wrongful death cases -- especially those involving a healthy young or middle-aged adult -- one of the key elements of the total damages award is future lost income. These damages awards can be very large as they represent decades of future work lost.
So, what happens when your loved one who died as a result of someone else's negligence was a senior adult?
Losses for Which You Can Be Compensated
Losses that are recognized by California law go beyond just medical expenses and lost wages. For example, when it comes to economic damages, California recognizes as a compensable loss "household services." According to California's Civil Jury Instructions, the amount you can recover for lost household services in a wrongful death suit is the "reasonable value of the services he/she would have been reasonably certain to provide to his/her household if the injury had not occurred."
The reality is that many seniors, even after they retire, remain very active and make substantial contributions to their families and households. Those might include domestic chores like laundry, cleaning, or grocery shopping. It also can include things like sealing a leaky pipe, fixing a malfunctioning appliance, or replacing a broken light fixture. The loss of those represents potentially compensable forms of harm.
On top of that, expenses associated with your loved one's funeral and burial are a recognized form of economic damages, as well as expenses incurred in relation to life-saving measures taken.
Furthermore, there are non-economic damages. This covers the emotional consequences of your loved one dying prematurely. This can include things like the loss of the victim's guidance, love, support, and (if there's a surviving spouse) consortium. With a senior victim, these damages can be just as great as if the victim was a younger person.
As your family grieves an incalculable loss, there are still procedural steps that should be taken. As you work to heal your family, count on our team of knowledgeable and compassionate personal injury lawyers in Santa Barbara at the law firm of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP to handle the legal matters associated with getting your family the compensation you deserve. Contact one of our helpful attorneys at 805-617-1365 or through our website to get a free case consultation.