Foothill Farms Wrongful Death Lawyer
The 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 how 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 of sudden death. If your loved one was killed because of the negligence of another party, a Foothill Farms wrongful death attorney could assist your family in achieving a form of justice through financial compensation.
Our Foothill Farms wrongful death lawyers 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.
Talking with an attorney is one of the last things you may want to consider as you grieve. 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 talking with insurance adjusters (who are not on your side) during your bereavement.The Definition of Wrongful Death
A death 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 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, other parties can bring a claim. Reach out to Autoaccident.com 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 essential to have legal counsel experienced in wrongful death. Finding someone you feel comfortable with is also crucial, as you will share heart-wrenching and sensitive information about your relationship with your lost loved one. Given the tragic circumstances, the combination of experience and compassion will help make the process as comfortable as possible.
Unfortunately, the party or parties responsible for the death will, in most cases, act quickly to protect their assets. This could involve covering up crucial facts or finding a way to assign blame to the deceased. Necessary evidence such as video camera footage, roadway markings, and destroyed property can be erased, cleaned, or replaced. That is why speaking with an attorney as soon as possible is crucial.
In California, you must file a lawsuit or settle your claim before the second anniversary of the death. There are exceptions to this time limit, and an experienced attorney will ensure 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?
No matter how experienced and compassionate, a lawyer can never take away the pain of your tragic loss. Skilled lawyers such as those at Autoaccident.com will handle the legal issues that arise when a family suffers the sudden death of a loved one. Because our office emphasizes holistic recovery, we can also help you find local bereavement resources and grief counselors. We 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. No criminal charges are usually filed in cases involving simple negligence 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
Occasionally, informal negotiation can resolve wrongful death matters outside of court. 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 to the at-fault party's negligence. For example, Autoaccident.com works with respected accident reconstructionists whose testimony can persuade a jury that the defendant caused the accident.
Collecting information from the family will be an essential part of the case if the claim is settled informally outside of court or if it requires litigation. 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 the deceased gave. Testimony about all the family activities in which the deceased can no longer take part will also be crucial to illustrate the significant loss.How Long Until Settlement?
Some wrongful death claims settle very quickly. If the other party's fault is apparent, and there is not an extremely large insurance policy, the claim could wrap up soon after the accident. The case can drag out much longer if liability (responsibility) is contested. A lawsuit may have to be filed to prove negligence, 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 the negligent party had. If the policy is extensive or 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 pressure the insurance company throughout the process. He or she will provide documentation to the insurance adjuster, evidencing the deceased family's significant losses. 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 damage category 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 include 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 for losing a loved one. In some cases, there may be a criminal case surrounding the same incident, and the district attorney would file those charges 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 awarded to the decedent's family. The decedent's family must pursue a separate wrongful death civil action to recover monetary damages. The intent of a criminal charge is to punish the defendant. The purpose 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
The loss of a loved one in an accident is an unfortunate occurrence. Our law firm has the experience to take on insurance companies to protect your rights following such a tragic accident. We are available to offer compassionate, free, and friendly advice. Contact our Foothill Farms wrongful death attorneys at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. For information about our firm, look at our website: AutoAccident.com.
A sampling of our successful Verdicts and Settlements is also available on our website.