El Dorado Hills Wrongful Death Lawyer
One of the worst things that can happen to a family is the sudden loss of a loved one. It is emotionally devastating and may place a tremendous financial strain on them. There may be medical bills, funeral costs, and the loss of a source of family income. When all of these expenses hit at the worst time in your life, an El Dorado Hills wrongful death lawyer can help you.
Basis for Pursuing a Claim for Wrongful Death
Under California law, when an individual dies as a proximate result of negligent action, or inaction, by another person, a wrongful death has occurred. This establishes the basis to file a civil claim under California tort law enabling a representative of the decedent to seek financial restitution for the immense and unexpected loss of a loved one.
Filing an El Dorado Hills Wrongful Death Claim is Limited to Specific Family Members
Under California law, the filing of a wrongful death claim is limited to a specific group of individuals, set forth by statute. Those individuals include the decedent’s spouse or domestic partner or the decedent’s child, or children. If the victim did not have a spouse or had no children, a wrongful death claim may still be filed by a representative designated by a California court who is legally recognized as a beneficiary of the victim’s property.
A related issue is whether multiple wrongful death claims can be pursued. This question often arises when there is a spouse and another family member who may not be on good terms or who believe they should be the representative in court over another person. Generally, only a particular individual (i.e. the person chosen to represent the estate) may file suit.
If two people attempt to file separate wrongful death claims representing the same victim against the same defendant, a California court will most likely merge the two cases in order to promote judicial efficiency. Some people may be thinking, “well, what if one lawsuit is filed in California and another is filed in a different state?” That would not work because there are jurisdictional requirements associated with a civil wrongful death lawsuit.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages That May Be Pursued Via a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Some of the most common types of damages recoverable in wrongful death cases are:
- Medical bills, funeral costs, and other expenses associated with a death: types of immediate expenses such as these are often referred to as compensatory damages and California law allows plaintiffs to recover the entirety of these types of damages.
- Future earnings: income that the deceased would have expected to earn over the course of his or her lifetime can also be recovered as part of a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Pain and suffering: California courts consider your own pain and trauma as a result of a loved one’s passing and award appropriate damages. Additionally, California courts also consider the pain and suffering that the decedent experienced before his or her untimely passing.
- Loss of companionship: compensation for the loss of companionship previously provided to you by a family member is also recoverable.
- Emotional distress: in some cases where an individual witnesses the death of a loved one, California Law will allow you to recover damages for your own emotional distress.
- Punitive damages: In the most extreme cases where a death occurred because of an intentional act or gross negligence, it may be possible to recover additional damages.
No Large Hourly Fee with a Wrongful Death Lawyer
Many people hesitate before hiring an El Dorado Hills wrongful death lawyer because they worry that an attorney will be expensive. However, our law firm is first and foremost dedicated to helping you recover damages for your loss. Unlike other law firms that charge hourly rates, our law firm handles cases on a contingency fee basis. This means there are no fees due up front. We get paid only after the successful outcome of your case.
Common Question – Will My Case Settle or Go To Trial?
When someone is struggling with the loss of a loved, the thought of going into a courtroom and testifying can feel overwhelming and intimidating. To be clear, if you decide to file an El Dorado Hills wrongful death claim against the individual or company responsible for your loved one’s death, there is a good chance that your claim will be resolved via settlement without having a jury trial. In fact, well over 90 percent of all personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are resolved via settlement rather than jury trial. Nevertheless, no attorney can or should guarantee the outcome to a case. That means when a wrongful death claim is filed, you need a lawyer who is ready to go to trial, if necessary. Our law firm stands ready to take your case to trial. We have the financial resources and the trial experience to do so.
What Needs to Be Proven at Trial
If your lawyer and the other party’s insurance claims representative cannot reach a fair and reasonable settlement, a jury trial will need to be scheduled. If this happens, the burden is on the plaintiff to present sufficient evidence to prove that the defendant was liable for your loved one’s death. Your El Dorado wrongful death lawyer will need to present evidence that meets the four elements of establishing that a defendant was liable in a wrongful death case, including:
- Duty of care – This is a lеgаl оbligаtiоn arising in numerous situations.
- Brеасh of the duty of care – There needs to be evidence that the dеfеndаnt breached the duty of care.
- Causation – Once your lawyer establishes that a breach of duty occurred, thеrе must be sufficient evidence showing a causal link bеtwееn thе dеfеndаnt’ѕ brеасh and your loved one’s death.
- Economic and non-economic dаmаgеѕ - Once causation is properly shown, уоur attorney must present persuasive evidence to the jury that you suffered harms and losses. In the wrongful death context, this can be proven by producing bills and invoices related to medical care, funeral and burial expenses, past tax returns for lost wages, and so forth.
I’m Ed Smith, an El Dorado Hills wrongful death lawyer. If you have lost someone dear to you in a tragic accident, please call me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for compassionate, free and friendly advice on how to proceed with a claim for wrongful death.
To see results I have obtained for my clients, follow this link: Verdicts and Settlements.
I am a Million Dollar Forum lawyer. This is a group of top-ranking trial lawyers who have obtained verdicts and settlements worth more than $1 Million.
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