Fair Oaks Wrongful Death Lawyer
When a loved one unexpectedly passes, no amount of money can truly replace what you lost. Yet the loss of a loved one can result in significant financial strain, especially if the decedent was the primary breadwinner and took care of household expenses. This is why you should consider speaking to a Fair Oaks wrongful death attorney to discuss your legal options and whether it makes sense to file a wrongful death claim against the reckless individual or corporation that caused your loved one’s death.Defining Wrongful Death
Under California law, when an individual or company is negligent or otherwise engages in unlawful conduct and those actions, or inaction, cause 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 seek financial restitution for the emotional trauma and financial strain associated with losing 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 before 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 throughout 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, were 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 a 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, most wrongful death cases will not involve strict liability. Instead, your injury lawyer will need to present evidence that meets the four critical 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 responsibility 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 safely and reasonably.
- Causation – Once your lawyer establishes that a breach of duty occurred, sufficient evidence must show a link bеtwееn thе 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 adequately 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 medical bills related to treatment, 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 to 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. Call an experienced Fair Oaks wrongful death lawyer for more information about this.Fair Oaks Wrongful Death Attorney
If you lost a loved one due to the careless or reckless actions of another individual or corporation, please call our experienced Fair Oaks wrongful death lawyers 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 moving forward with a claim makes sense.
Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 1.5.22]
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