Fair Oaks Wrongful Death Lawyer
Under California law, when an individual or company is negligent or otherwise engages in unlawful conduct and those actions, or inaction, causes the death of an individual, it is considered a “wrongful death.” Causes of wrongful death that form the basis of wrongful death claims include the following:
- Car accidents caused by a careless driver
- Car accidents caused by a defective part
- Motorcycle accident caused by a reckless driver
- Pedestrian accident at a crosswalk
- Medical malpractice and surgical errors
- Accidents while at the workplace
- Defective products and prescription medications
When you file a wrongful death claim, you are seeking financial restitution for the emotional trauma and financial strain associated with the loss of your loved one. This means the economic and non-economic damages that are potentially recoverable through a wrongful death claim include:
- Medical bills incurred by your loved one from an accident prior to their death (e.g., someone is hit by a car, undergoes surgery, is in a coma for weeks, and ultimately passes away);
- Burial expenses;
- Funeral costs;
- Loss of future earnings (i.e. the reasonably expected income that the decedent would have earned over the course of their lifetime if not for the tragic accident);
- Your pain and suffering including the loss of companionship, the loss of emotional support, the loss of guidance and mentorship (if the decedent had a child)
- Punitive damages (if the case involves a defendant whose actions, or inaction, was grossly negligent).
When someone is struggling with the loss of a loved one, the prospect of going to court and testifying in front of a jury can feel overwhelming. To be clear, if you decide to file a wrongful death claim against the individual or company responsible for your loved one’s death, there is a good chance that the claim will ultimately be settled without going to trial. In fact, well over 90 percent of all personal injury and wrongful death cases get resolved through settlement rather than jury trial. Nevertheless, no lawyer can, or should, guarantee an outcome. That means when you file a claim, you need to be ready to go to trial, if necessary.What Needs to Be Proven in Court
If settlement negotiations fall apart and a jury trial is scheduled, the plaintiff (i.e. you) is responsible for presenting sufficient evidence to prove that the defendant was liable for your loved one’s death. An exception to this standard is in product liability cases where strict liability can be shown. Strict liability means that you are not required to demonstrate that the defendant was negligent. Basically, under strict liability, if you can prove that your loved one’s death was caused by the defendant’s conduct, whether the conduct was negligent or not, the defendant remains liable for your harms and losses.
However, the vast majority of wrongful death cases will not involve strict liability. Instead, your injury lawyer will need to present evidence that meets the four key elements of establishing that a defendant was liable in a wrongful death case. Those four elements include:
- Duty of care – This is a lеgаl оbligаtiоn arising in numerous situations. For example, a driver has a duty to abide by the basic rules of the road and applicable state laws.
- Brеасh of the duty of care – There needs to be evidence that the dеfеndаnt breached the duty of care. For example, if a driver was texting and driving and wound up hitting your loved one at a designated crosswalk, that is a breach of their duty to operate their vehicle in a safe and reasonable manner.
- 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. In the context of a fatal automobile accident, causation is not difficult to prove since the collision can, in many instances, speak for itself.
- Economic and non-economic dаmаgеѕ - Once causation is properly shown, уоur Fair Oaks wrongful death lawyer 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.
You only have a finite period of time to hold the negligent individual or company responsible for your loved one’s death. Under California law, уоu hаvе two уеаrѕ frоm thе dаtе of your loved one’s death tо file a wrongful death lаwѕuit. This is known as the statute of limitations. If you delay in taking action and try to file a lawsuit after two years has passed, there is a good chance that your lawsuit will get thrown out of court. As you can see, taking action right away and contacting an attorney is extremely important. If you claim is against a public entity you have only six (6) months or 180 days to file a claim. There are other important deadlines to meet as well. For more information about this, call an experienced Fair Oaks wrongful death lawyer.Fair Oaks Wrongful Death Attorney
I’m Ed Smith, a Fair Oaks wrongful death lawyer. If you lost a loved one due to the careless or reckless actions of another individual or corporation, please call me at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400 for free, friendly advice. This is a no-pressure phone call where we discuss your situation and determine whether it makes sense to move forward with a claim.
Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 12.4.20]
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