Merced Wrongful Death lawyer (209) 227-1931

If a close family member dies as a result of another person’s negligent actions, or inaction, a lawsuit may be the last thing on your mind. But while you are grieving for your loss, the defendant and their insurance company will likely be doing everything possible to minimize their exposure to a potential wrongful death lawsuit. This is why you should consider pursuing a legal claim as soon as possible.

How Wrongful Deaths Can Occur

A wrongful death is a death proximately caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional act of another individual. Thus, to prove a wrongful death, the decedent’s family must show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant committed some wrongful act or failed to take reasonable action in response to a particular situation.

There are many types of wrongful acts that could result in a death including:

  • Collision between two automobiles
  • Collision between a car and a commercial truck
  • Collision between a motorcycle and another vehicle
  • Work-related injuries
  • Alcohol-related incidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Defective consumer products
  • Boating accidents
  • Dangerous business premises

The above list is certainly not an exhausting catalog of all possible incidents that could serve as the basis for a Merced wrongful death claim. Many other types of incidents could have resulted in wrongful death.

Types of Damages That May Be Recovered in a Merced Wrongful Death Case

Under California law, a surviving family member (i.e. representative) may file a civil claim for damages on behalf of the decedent. This means that expenses associated with the passing of the deceased as well as the family’s own pain and suffering can be recovered through the wrongful death claims process. Among the types of damages that can be pursued include:

  • Post-Death Expenses: Medical bills, funeral costs, and other expenses associated with your loved one prior to their passing. Medical expenses are common when someone was involved in an automobile collision and they received emergency medical treatment after the accident, but ultimately succumb to their injuries.
  • Future Earnings: If the decedent had a family and was earning an income from a job, the representative for the decedent’s estate can pursue future wages that would have been earned by the decedent, if not for the fatal accident.
  • Your Pain and Suffering: This includes your anguish and trauma stemming from the incident, including mental anguish.
  • Loss of Companionship: You can secure compensation for the loss of companionship previously provided to you by a family member.
  • Punitive Damages: In certain cases containing truly shocking conduct on the part of the defendant, it may be possible to recover an additional form of damages known as punitive damages. These damages are typically awarded to send a signal to the defendant, and others who are similarly situated, that the conduct precipitating your loved one’s death is wholly unacceptable and there will be consequences.

Why You Should Hire a Merced Wrongful Death Lawyer

Unfortunately, while you are grieving and adjusting to the recent passing of a family member, the insurance company for the at-fault party will likely be hiring private investigators and attorneys to try and mitigate their potential exposure to any claimed damages. This should come as no surprise since insurance companies generate profit by paying out the least amount possible, even on perfectly legitimate claims.

Insurance Company Tactics

Insurance companies regularly hire paid experts to examine the scene of the accident and examine all possible angles to help the insurance company argue for either for reduced damages or for your wrongful death case to be dismissed entirely. This is why it is important to hire a Merced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to get your own investigative team moving and preserving critical evidence. An attorney knows what tricks insurance adjusters use to game the legal system and can help prevent them from causing permanent damage to your wrongful death case. Experienced attorneys will also seek out any witnesses to the incident quickly so that they can provide detailed statements before their short-term memories lapse.

You Pay No Attorney Fees Upfront

You may be concerned about large legal fees and not being able to afford a Merced wrongful death lawyer. Put those concerns to rest. Most, if not all, wrongful death lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis. This means that rather than charging you an hourly fee for legal representation, or making you pay a huge retainer fee, the lawyer’s fee is contingent upon a successful outcome in your case, either through a settlement or verdict. Once a financial recovery has been obtained for you, the lawyer generally receives a percentage of the total financial legal recovery. The percentage varies depending on the facts of the case and whether the outcome required going to court for a jury trial.

Be Vigilant and Do Not Let the Statute of Limitations Expire

An unexpected death triggers a law known as the statute of limitations. In California, a representative for a decedent has only two years (or six months in the case of a government defendant) from the time of the death to bring a lawsuit seeking justice and financial compensation for that death. For these reasons, the family of a loved one should take time to grieve and come to terms with the loss, but soon after, you should consider preserving your legal rights by speaking to a Merced wrongful death attorney.

Call a Compassionate and Experienced Merced Wrongful Death Lawyer Today

I’m Ed Smith, a Merced wrongful death lawyer. If you have lost someone you love in a tragedy and you feel someone was at fault, please call me at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly and no-obligation advice.

I have been practicing in personal injury and wrongful death law since 1982.

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I am honored to be listed as a Million Dollar Advocate. This is a fellowship of US trial lawyers who have obtained million dollar verdicts.

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Client Reviews
  • Me and my wife; had a car accident. We were amazed how easy, professional, friendly attorney Ed Smith is along with his staff. Everybody is amazing. Thank you so much, we are very impressed!
    Sincerely, Alex & Dinah M. ★★★★★
  • Ed Smith and his office team took on a difficult personal injury case on my behalf and for the passenger in my car. Ed is a top- notch attorney. His staff couldn't have been more helpful and kind. No need to look elsewhere. I give Ed Smith my highest recommendation. Beverly ★★★★★
  • Ed and Robert have been taking great care of my husband and I for the past 5+ years. They are always there when you have a problem and a quick resolution! Even when the issues have nothing to do with them. They are willing to help ease the pain off your shoulders. They are as good as it gets! Thank you again for everything. Annie T. ★★★★★
  • Very professional. Great team, staff and service all around. Mr Smith was very honest, straight forward with his advice. He gives the word "attorney" an honest reputation. I will seek his council anytime, and would recommend him at the drop of a dime. Jeremy M. ★★★★★
  • I would highly recommend Ed Smith to any friends or family in need of a personal injury attorney. Ed, and his staff, are very caring on top of being very experienced in this field. The staff always keeps you informed of the status of your case and they are always easy to reach by phone. Shannon D. ★★★★★
  • Edward Smith law offices provide competent, thorough, and personable help for victims of personal injury. When you first meet the staff you know you contacted the right office. This law office treats clients like people. I recommend this office to anyone seeking representation regarding personal injury. David M. ★★★★★