Foothill Farms Wrongful Death Lawyer

Foothill Farms Wrongful Death LawyerThe unexpected loss of a loved one is devastating.  There is significant heartbreak and suffering when the life of a family member is senselessly taken in an accident.  It is difficult to immediately imagine all the ways in which that loss will affect the surviving family members.  The death of a family member who is also a primary breadwinner can result in severe financial difficulties.  Nothing can erase the heartache of a lost loved one.  A wrongful death claim can help ease some of the financial burdens that arise from sudden death.  If your loved one was killed because of the negligence of another party, a Foothill Farms wrongful death attorney can assist your family in achieving a form of justice through financial compensation. are Foothill Farms wrongful death lawyers that will help you and your family navigate the complex claims process.  We are available to offer compassionate, free, and friendly advice with no obligation.  Call us at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

One of the last things you may want to think about as you grieve is talking with an attorney.  Just know that insurance companies will not wait - they will immediately begin an investigation into the accident and attempt to assign fault to your loved one.  They are only interested in their bottom lines.  Speaking with an attorney as soon as possible following the tragic accident means that your rights will be protected, the proper evidence will be gathered, and you will not have to worry about taking with insurance adjusters (who are not on your side) during your bereavement.  

In this article:

The Definition of Wrongful Death

A death that is caused by the negligence or wrongful act of another person or party is known by the legal term of wrongful death. Intentional homicide is one form of wrongful death, but so are unintentional acts caused by negligence.  These could include deaths caused by a dangerous or defective product, a drunk or reckless driver, or the failure of a medical professional to properly diagnose or give life-saving care.  These are just a few examples of scenarios that could lead to wrongful death.

Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death claims are codified within the California Code of Civil Procedure sections 377.60-377.62. The code identifies those parties that are legally able to file a claim.

The surviving spouse and children of the decedent are the most common claimants. However, there are other parties that can bring a claim.  Reach out to attorneys for further clarification on this issue.

Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

As stated above, we recommend finding a Foothill Farms Wrongful Death lawyer that you trust as soon as possible following the fatal incident. It is important to have legal counsel who is experienced in the arena of wrongful death.  It is also crucial to find someone with whom you feel comfortable, as you will be sharing heart-wrenching and sensitive information about your relationship with your lost loved one.  The combination of experience and compassion will help make the process as comfortable as it can be, given the tragic circumstances.

Unfortunately, the party or parties responsible for the death will, in most cases, act quickly to protect their assets.  This could involve covering up key facts, or working to find a way to assign blame to the deceased.  Important evidence such as video camera footage, roadway markings, and destroyed property can be erased, cleaned, or replaced.  That is why it is so crucial to speak with an attorney as soon as you are able.  

In California, you must file a lawsuit or settle your claim before the two year anniversary of the death.  There are exceptions to this time limit, and an experienced attorney will ensure that you do not miss the time to file.  In a case involving the negligence of a government or public entity, this time limit is drastically shorter, often only months.

Can a Foothill Farms Wrongful Death Lawyer Help?

A lawyer, no matter how experienced and compassionate, can never take away the pain of your tragic loss.  Skilled lawyers such as those at will handle the legal issues that arise when a family suffers the sudden death of a loved one.  Because our office operates with an emphasis on holistic recovery, we can also help you find local bereavement resources, grief counselors, and may suggest books, art, and music that many find to be sources of comfort.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Case

Money will never ease your pain. In cases involving simple negligence, there are usually no criminal charges filed since the act that caused the death was not intentional.  In such a case, the only avenue through which a bereaved family may obtain some form of justice is through the civil system, where a claimant can receive financial compensation. Some of the monetary damages that may be awarded to the deceased’s heirs are:

  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Loss of the deceased parent’s guidance and care
  • Loss of consortium for the surviving spouse (loss of companionship, household help, and other aspects of the marital relationship)
  • Funeral and burial expenses

In some cases of extreme negligence or harmful intent, punitive damages may be awarded

Proving Causation and Damages in a Wrongful Death

Most of the time, wrongful death matters can be resolved outside of court through informal negotiation. On occasion, the defendant or his/her insurance may dispute what caused the accident, and the case must be filed with the court and proceed to trial.  An experienced wrongful death attorney will employ expert witnesses to testify as to the negligence of the at-fault party.  For example, works with respected accident reconstructionists whose testimony can persuade a jury that the defendant caused the accident.  

Regardless of whether the claim is settled informally outside of court or if it requires litigation, collecting information from the family will be an important part of the case. Evidence of the depth of the survivors’ losses could include such things as pay stubs, but will also include personal items such as home videos and birthday cards given by the deceased.  Testimony about all the family activities in which the deceased can no longer take part will also be crucial to illustrate the great loss.

How Long Until Settlement?

Some wrongful death claims settle very quickly.  If the fault of the other party is clear, and if there is not an extremely large insurance policy, the claim could wrap up soon after the accident.  If liability (responsibility) is contested, the case can drag out much longer.  To prove negligence, a lawsuit may have to be filed, after which depositions will be taken.  Expert witnesses may have to conduct an analysis and offer testimony.  

Another factor that can delay a settlement is the amount of insurance that the negligent party had. If the policy is large, or if a corporation or public entity is involved, the insurance company will usually delay paying out its money for as long as possible.  An experienced wrongful death lawyer will keep the pressure on the insurance company throughout the process.  He or she will provide documentation to the insurance adjuster, evidencing the large losses sustained by the deceased’s family.  Properly documenting the file in such a way can also take some time.  A good wrongful death lawyer will want to provide evidence of every potential future category of damage, so the family receives as much compensation as possible.

Am I Required to Pay Taxes on a Wrongful Death Settlement?

Wrongful death claims fall under the umbrella of personal injury.  The Internal Revenue Service does not tax monies that compensate claimants for pain and suffering in a personal injury matter, so the answer is no.  

Civil or Criminal?

Wrongful death lawsuits are civil matters.  In a civil suit, family members can seek monetary compensation based on the loss of a loved one.

In some cases, there may be a criminal case surrounding the same incident.  Those charges would be filed by the district attorney against the person who caused the wrongful death. Even if the at-fault party is convicted in criminal court, the criminal matter will not result in any money being awarded to the decedent’s family. To recover monetary damages, the family of the decedent must pursue a separate wrongful death civil action. The intent of a criminal charge is to punish the defendant.  The intent of a civil wrongful death claim against the same defendant is to seek an award of monetary damages for the decedent’s family.

Below is a video created by our firm that further explains wrongful death claims.

Foothill Farms Wrongful Death Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a wrongful death lawyer in Foothill Farms. The loss of a loved one in an accident is a heartbreaking occurrence.  My firm has the experience necessary to take on insurance companies to protect your rights following such a tragic accident.  I am available to offer compassionate, free, and friendly advice.  Reach out to my office at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.  For information about my firm, have a look at our website:

I have advocated on behalf of injured and bereaved Sacramento families for nearly four decades. Many of my clients have left reviews that can be found on GoogleAvvo, and Yelp.

A sampling of my successful Verdicts and Settlements is also available on my website.

Image by Jacques GAIMARD from Pixabay

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