This article will help you understand what steps you should take in order to begin preparing for a wrongful death lawsuit after losing a spouse or family member to a fatal motorcycle crash in California. However, for personalized legal guidance, you should speak with an experienced Ventura County motorcycle accident lawyer. Your attorney will work to uphold your rights as the surviving relative of a wrongful death victim while fighting for justice and compensation on your family’s behalf.
California Motorcycle Death Statistics for Santa Barbara and Ventura County
Motorcycle accidents occur less frequently than car accidents, but are substantially more likely to result in death. According to the Insurance Information Institute, motorcyclists are about 26 times more likely than car passengers to be killed in a crash, per mile traveled. The California Highway Patrol reported nearly 12,000 motorcyclist deaths statewide in 2013, including 13 fatalities in Ventura County and eight in Santa Barbara County.
The loss of a family member to a motorcycling accident is a tragic, devastating event, especially when the accident was caused by the careless actions of another driver, such as speeding, following too closely, running a red light, or driving while intoxicated. When a fatal crash is caused by another motorist’s negligent acts, questions of liability begin to arise. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, the victim’s surviving family members may have grounds to file a lawsuit for wrongful death, defined by Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 377.60 as any death “caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.” Though most wrongful motorcycling deaths are caused by negligent driving, the negligent manufacture of flawed, defective products also plays a role in some cases.
Though no claim or lawsuit can ever begin to “make up for” the profound emotional pain of a loved one’s death, your family has a right to seek justice for your loss, and may be entitled to compensation for funeral bills, lost income, and other financial hardships stemming from the accident. There are several steps you can take to help strengthen your claim.
Steps to Take After a Relative is Killed in a Fatal Motorcycle Crash
After a loved one is killed or suffers a catastrophic injury caused by a negligent driver or defective motorcycle part, you should strongly consider contacting a California wrongful death attorney who has extensive experience handling motorcycle accident claims. In addition to providing emotional support and answering your legal questions, your attorney will take care of your paperwork, track down evidence, protect you from falling prey to “bad faith” tactics sometimes used by insurance companies, and fight to recover the greatest amount of compensation possible. Unfortunately, insurers are focused on protecting their profits — not accident victims — and frequently make low and wholly inadequate settlement offers unless an aggressive attorney gets involved in the process.
As you seek a knowledgeable and experienced wrongful death lawyer to represent your family, it is also vitally important for you to gather as much information and evidence about the crash as possible. Your attorney will handle much of this process for you, which may involve locating accident witnesses, obtaining medical records, obtaining police accident reports, getting photographs of the crash site, and/or interviewing experts. However, any information you are able to contribute can be useful. For example, documents and sources of information that can help build a stronger claim include:
- Any photographs or records related to the motorcycle that was involved in the accident, such as vehicle maintenance records like receipts from motorcycle mechanics.
- Bank statements, tax returns, and other financial documents reflecting the decedent’s earnings and income.
- Insurance policies and paperwork.
Finally, you should have a discussion with your family about who is going to get involved in the lawsuit as a plaintiff. Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 377.60 permits surviving spouses, children, and domestic partners to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California, or, in some situations, parents, stepchildren, and minors.
Get Legal Help from Our Experienced Ventura Wrongful Death Attorneys
We know it is never easy to talk about the death of a loved one. Our attorneys are sensitive to the deeply personal and emotional nature of wrongful death cases, and can assure you that you will always be treated with empathy and respect for your loss.
At The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC, every case we handle receives our utmost care and close attention to detail. Our goal is to help the surviving family members of crash victims obtain the compensation and sense of justice they need to start moving forward again. With over 22 years of experience handling fatal motorcycle accident claims in Santa Barbara County and Ventura County, we have established ourselves as respected personal injury attorneys with the skill and resourcefulness to approach complex, challenging cases.
To arrange a free legal consultation with our Ventura County auto accident lawyers, call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 585-5056. Please do not hesitate to call us at any hour, including evenings and weekends. We will keep your information confidential.