Tesla is in news for all not-so-right reasons again. No, we aren’t talking about the CEO Elon Musk any twitter repartee but it’s about his much-touted Tesla cars whose advanced autopilot mechanism has allegedly been responsible for the death of innocent lives in California.
In the recent case, Jeremy Beren Banner died when his Tesla barged into a tractor-trailer while “Autopilot” mode was activated. The aggrieved family has sued the automaker for wrongful death.
For the uninitiated, the Fremont-based company for years has been accused of continuing with its ‘far less competent autopilot jeopardizing the life of its drivers on road.
A consumer report quoted, “It’s incredibly nearsighted. It doesn’t appear to react to brake lights or turn signals, it can’t anticipate what other drivers will do, and as a result, you constantly have to be one step ahead of it”.
And to say that this case is not the only one in itself is a big wake up call. In fact, Musk once touted Tesla to be the safest vehicle on the road. But the slew of fatalities has exposed the weakness of its advanced features and uncovered the dark underbelly of the auto technologies (AI & ML) that are putting drivers at risk.
Yet federal investigators are considering different possibilities if in case the driver was at some fault and Tesla is somewhere an easy target. This is debatable, though.
This underpins the prevalence of wrongful deaths in this US state. Going by the latest stats, California accounts for 11% of the total auto fatal deaths. In 2018 only, 4,85K + car collisions were reported with 3,898 deaths!
If the car accident is not natural like the aforementioned case, you can sue the other individual or the entity (Tesla) responsible for personal injury or wrongful death.
What Is Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim involves the death of a person owing to someone else’s fault. This involves car accidents, medical negligence, and even faulty product cases.
Whether its an act of bad intention or sheer negligence, if you have suffered a personal loss, you own the right to make the culprit accountable for the actions and seek compensation against the wrongful death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
No one is prepared to cope up with an untimely loss of a loved one ever. However, if you happen to be in such turmoil and there is another party deemed responsible for your personal loss, approach a civil court to seek justice and win suitable compensation.
California Code of Civil Procedure section 377.60 has clearly defined who in what situation holds the right to sue another party. Every state has its distinct rules for who holds the rights to win compensation. The plaintiffs include
- Immediate family members such as spouses, and children including adopted
- Distant relatives such as cousins, uncles, grandparents
- Direct sufferers from the wrongful death even if not blood related
- Parents and even guardians
However, you need concrete evidence to justify your claim on seeking compensation for the wrongful death claim in California. Often, in conflicted situations, you’ve to provide evidence such as photographs, videos, and other memorabilia to prove your relationship with the deceased.
How To Apply For Wrongful Death Claim?
If your family member or friend has met such fatality, consider pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit in the local civil court. The major steps include:
1. File Official Complaint
The first and foremost step is to officially file the accident. You can call 911 for immediate medical assistance and then reach out to the police authorities. It need not be told that many car accidents go unreported and often settled outside the court to avoid litigation altogether.
However, if you feel gutted with the mishappening and physical damage and need nothing less than the justice served.
2. Legal Consultation with Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney
Wrongful deaths can be very complex, especially if you’re up against a big company such as Tesla or individuals with unquestionable public reputation. And the lawsuit may stretch for years before you can reach an acceptable resolution.
We recommend getting in touch with a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer for strong legal representation and claim the rightful compensation against the damages.
3. Determine Damages (Quantifiable Loss)
No monetary benefits can fill the void in your life. Right? Yet grave injuries or absence of a person in your life can have financial repercussions such as
- Medical expenses on treatment, medicines, tests and many such procedural costs
- Pension and other medical coverage
- Wage loss
- Inheritance loss
- School fees, rent, and other basic necessities
In case of immediate death, ambulance and burial costs are also added. There are states which have put a cap on the damages you can claim but as such California is under no obligation.
Your attorney can guide you through to determine the tentative cost and create an estate with the local court to provide the plaintiff the compensation.
4. Gather Evidence for Legal Presentation
As you’ve determined the compensation amount, file an official lawsuit with the court and send a legal notice to the defendant to respond. A definite time is notified within which the accused has to plead guilty or not.
Make sure you have concrete evidence to support your claims as to the person who could have told the first-person account either is gravely injured or dead.
You might need more than just the testimony of the witnesses who may or may not turn up on the trial. If possible, take a written statement to have a backup plan!
Investigate the case and find more resources to get authentic proofs to strengthen your claims. For instance, you can have product reports stating the potentially fatal flaws or the company’s callous response to your queries so on so forth.
Depending on the defendant’s response, a trial begins wherein the collected evidence is produced and discussed to substantiate the credibility of the lawsuit filed.
If you have a specialized attorney by your side, gaining new insights and substantiating the in-hand evidence is not a far possibility to win the trust of the judge.
Remember, all these efforts would be in vain if you do not file the lawsuit within the statute of limitations. Just like other California laws, wrongful death claims are supposed to be filed within 2 years from the date of the death. Any delay would dismiss your right to file the case or seek compensation.
5. Final Verdict
The duration of every lawsuit depends on the nature of the case. In most wrongful death lawsuits, the judge offers the option to mutually settle the case to cut short the often-agonizing trials that may cost you extra money and time.
For instance, if a defendant sees scathing evidence against them, he or she may propose for an out of court settlement to save his public reputation.
In an otherwise case wherein, the plaintiff refused to budge from the stand or defendant does not agree on the compensation amount, the trial continues and a final verdict comes within due course of time.
The Bottom Line
The unfortunate demise of your family members or friends can be emotionally devastating. However, if there is sufficient evidence to believe that it could be someone else’s wrongdoing, connect with seasoned wrongful death attorneys in California to discover the various possibilities on the table.
Schedule a FREE consultation and explore the most viable options available after suffering a mighty blow to your personal life.