The death of a family member can change everything in any family’s life. The emotional and financial damage and the day-to-day challenges are even more painful when someone’s cruelty or bad decision took the loved one away.

California has special rules that allow families to look for justice in court and make the future without the loved one a little more manageable.

Dangers from cars in Long Beach are well known

Long Beach pedestrians and cyclists had a tough year on our streets, and residents mourned more than its share of disturbing fatal crashes:

  • A car in a police chase killed five dogs and a 41-year-old dog walker in Bluff Heights on May 7.
  • A 19-year-old driver struck an 82-year-old cyclist near Los Coyotes Diagonal and Stearns Street. The cyclist died on September 7.
  • Halloween night in Los Cerritos, a 20-year-old man allegedly driving under the influence hit a mother, father and son. The man died immediately. The 3-year-old child, trick-or-treating in a snake costume, died the next night and the mother died two days after the boy.

These dangers are well known. This year, the state and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave a $275,000 grant for the city to increase its education and other efforts to reduce pedestrian injuries.

So far, these efforts appear more focused on changing the habits of walkers and cyclists than drivers.

Wrongful death is easier to prove than criminal guilt

Such sudden deaths often mean someone new must take care of children and elderly people, not to mention pets. The family may need to spend less time together than before and learn to survive with much less money.

A wrongful death lawsuit can help the family get compensation in the aftermath of these tragedies and disruptions.

Often, these lawsuits and the threat of even more lawsuits change the behavior of people, businesses and governments, saving an unknowable number of lives in the process.

A wrongful death claim needs a much lower level of proof than a criminal court. Even if a court finds someone not guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a wrongful death suit can win by showing the claim is more likely to be true than not.