After a fatal accident in California, family members may unexpectedly need money for medical and funeral expenses. You should know that family members are often able to file a “wrongful death claim”. This claim is filed on behalf of the deceased person. Some insurance companies don’t want you to know about these claims because they often have to pay out very significant amounts of money.
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim
Filing a wrongful death claim is something no one probably wants to face. With that said, any accident has the potential to be fatal under the circumstances. In terms of legality, California law allows certain people to file a wrongful death claim:
- Surviving spouse
- Surviving domestic partner
- Surviving offspring
In situations where there are no surviving spouse or children, the claim can be brought by any individual that has a claim to the deceased’s property through “intestate succession,” which means there is no will. This widens the scope of filing to include:
- Common law spouses and their children
With that established, the wrongful death claim can move forward. In a typical wrongful death claim in California, the legal process will allow you to recover damages from the responsible party. This differs from case to case, but usually includes:
- Funeral expenses
- Burial expenses
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Loss of benefits
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of parental support
Obviously, these damages can add up quickly, particularly if your deceased loved one was in the prime of their life or was in good health. All of this factors in, but it’s the immediate shock of the loss that leads some to consider taking other steps to get financial support, one of the most common of which is starting a GoFundMe.
How to Start a GoFundMe
In recent years, a GoFundMe has become a very prominent way for families, loved ones, and supporters to raise money for people that are going through hard times. There’s a number of benefits to starting a GoFundMe, most important of which are:
- Bringing attention to the issue
- Helping with immediate medical needs and other expenses
All that you need to do to start a GoFundMe is to sign up on their website, and then provide a description of what you’re raising funds for. In cases of the death of a loved one, this can be an important step in not only the grieving process, but in practical terms, it gives you and your surviving family members quicker access to much-needed funds.
Which Should You Do?
Every situation is different, but when you’re facing the death of a loved one from an accident, you’re going to need help. The main difference between a wrongful death claim and a GoFundMe is in the formality of the process.
A wrongful death claim is filed with an insurance company, either through the claims process or a lawsuit. This gives you a guaranteed path to recovering damages from the responsible party. The main drawback is that it’s very often a lengthier process.
On the other hand, the main drawback of a GoFundMe is twofold: first, there’s no guarantee of raising any funds. Further, any funds you do raise are subject to certain taxes and other financial implications that may not give you what you need.
Regardless of which option you choose, facing the death of a loved one is an incredibly emotional and difficult process. In these unfortunate situations, your best bet is to reach out to experienced California wrongful death lawyers that can provide you with a better idea of your options.