Manteca Wrongful Death Lawyer (209) 227-1931
The sudden loss of a family member can turn your world upside down leaving you emotionally devastated and under tremendous financial strain, especially when the victim was a primary income-earner in the household. Sadly, many Manteca families have to struggle with the unexpected loss of a loved one from preventable accidents such as car wrecks.
For example, a fatal collision occurred between a GMC Yukon and a Toyota Camry at the intersection of Woodward Road and McKinley Avenue. The passenger in the Toyota Camry died in the crash. If that was not bad enough, the driver of the Yukon reportedly fled the scene of the accident, which may indicate that they caused the crash.
Pursuing Some Semblance of Justice through a Wrongful Death Claim
After the shocking death of a loved one, bringing a legal action is probably the furthest thing from your mind. However, in the midst of grieving for the death of your loved one, you should discuss your legal options with a Manteca wrongful death lawyer. Filing a wrongful death claim and holding the at-fault driver accountable can help provide some semblance of justice for you and your family, along with a sense of closure. Also, it can help ease the financial burden associated with a sudden death.
Understanding the Elements of a Wrongful Death Action
Under California law, a wrongful death occurs when someone causes the death of another through their negligent actions, which typically involve some reckless or careless action, or inaction. An act is negligent when it is one that a reasonable person wouldn’t have done under similar circumstances.
In order to establish a wrongful death, your Manteca wrongful death lawyer needs to prove the following:
- That the defendant had a duty of care towards the decedent.
- The defendant breached this duty of care.
- This breach of duty of care directly caused the death.
- There are resultant damages caused by the breach of duty of care.
Understanding Who May File a Wrongful Death Action in a Manteca Court
In California, specific family members of the decedent are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This means if you were a close friend of the decedent, or you were dating the decedent, then you have no legal right to file a lawsuit on their behalf. The people allowed to bring a claim include:
- The surviving spouse (or domestic partner) of the decedent
- The decedent's child, or children
- The parents and/or siblings of the decedent
Damages in a Wrongful Death Action
The objective of a wrongful death claim is to ensure the decedent's family is properly compensated for their harms and losses. When determining a monetary damage amount, the following factors are taken into account:
- The relationship that existed between the deceased and the plaintiff at the time of death.
- The decedent's income and projected life span.
- The monetary value of the services the decedent offered to the family.
- Expenses incurred as a result of the death. This includes things like funeral costs and burial expenses.
Also, in certain special relationships, there are some additional factors like:
- For spouses, the damages consider loss of protection and companionship in addition to pain and suffering.
- For children of the decedent, they are entitled to compensation for loss of guidance, instruction, and companionship. This is in addition to the mental pain and suffering that results from the death of a loved one.
- The decedent’s parents might also get compensation for the resulting pain and suffering that arises from the death.
In addition, a jury may opt to award punitive damages designed to punish the defendant for their outrageous and shocking behavior. Though, these damages are typically only awarded when there is clear evidence that the defendant was grossly negligent. After reviewing the facts of your case, your Manteca wrongful death lawyer will let you know if you can get punitive damages in your claim.
How the Process Works
If you and your attorney decided that filing a wrongful death claim is the way to go, one of the first actions your Manteca wrongful death lawyer will take is gathering enough evidence to support your claim. As the plaintiff, you have the burden of proof to establish the defendant’s liability.
Once evidence is collected, your lawyer will likely submit a demand letter to the at-fault driver's insurance company. Once this demand letter has been mailed and received, there is usually an attempt at settlement negotiations. In many cases, a claims representative with the insurance company will make an opening offer and that offer will be substantially less than what you should reasonably accept. Your lawyer will make a counter-offer and the negotiations will continue until they prove to be unproductive.
If the insurance company eventually makes a reasonable offer and you decide to accept it, the case concludes and you do not have to go through a jury trial. Deciding whether to accept a settlement or go to trial is a decision you should make with the guidance and counsel of your Manteca wrongful death lawyer. As the client, you retain the ultimate authority on whether to accept a settlement or have the case go before a judge and jury.
If you opt to go to trial, you need to be prepared for the litigation process, which may include being deposed and testifying in open court. It will also require more patience since jury trials are usually scheduled months out in a civil court.
Watch Out for the Statute of Limitations
Make sure settlement negotiations do not drag on for too long. A lawsuit needs to be filed in a Manteca courthouse within two years of the date of your loved one's death. This is due to the statute of limitations. Your attorney should be cognizant of this period and file in a timely manner.Manteca Wrongful Death Lawyer Ready to Help You and Your Family
I’m Ed Smith, a Manteca Wrongful Death Lawyer. If you have lost someone close to you due to the negligence of someone else, please call me at (209) 227-1931 for free, friendly and compassionate advice. I have been helping families recover compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death losses for over 30 years. I take cases on a contingency fee. This means you pay at the successful conclusion of your case. No fees are due up front. So why not call me today?
I have been recognized as an accomplished trial lawyer by the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. The forum only accepts members who have obtained verdicts in excess of $1 Million.
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