Napa Wrongful Death Lawyer
Finding out that someone you love has suddenly lost his or her life in an accident that could have been avoided is a gut-wrenching and often traumatic experience that, sadly, many Napa residents are faced with. For example, a head-on collision happens on Highway 29 just outside of the city on the way to American Canyon. Reports state that a sedan and an SUV crashed into each other at South Kelly Road. Two of the people inside the SUV were fatally injured during the crash. Suddenly, with no warning, two entire families are faced with the devastating news of their loved one’s death because of a potentially avoidable accident.Holding Negligent Parties Responsible for Wrongful Death Claims
It’s a painful truth - losing a spouse, parent, or guardian not only causes emotional damages but often creates serious financial problems as well. This can be even worse when the person who lost his or her life was the primary income earner in the family or household. In a single moment, families can be left unsure of how they are going to pay their credit card bills, mortgages, car payments, and other necessary expenses. For these reasons, those who have lost a loved one can often pursue payments for their losses through what is called a “wrongful death claim.”
The California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60 provides that a case of wrongful death has happened when a person loses his or her life due to the proximate result of another party or parties’ misconduct or negligence. The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to make sure that those who relied on the deceased are able to have financial security and peace of mind after they’ve suffered a terrible loss.Recoverable Damages
The kinds of damages that dependents and families are able to pursue are different for every case. However, some of the types of compensation that are frequently recoverable in wrongful death claims include:
- Hospital Bills: if your loved one received medical treatment in an emergency room or ambulance before losing his or her life, you could seek reimbursement for costs related to the procedure.
- Funeral Costs: you are able to seek payment for the cost of your loved one’s burial and funeral.
- Future Income: families and dependents can seek reimbursement for wages and income that their loved one would have earned if he or she was still alive.
- Pain and Suffering: these damages represent non-quantifiable losses. Most often, these damages are related to emotional hardships such as the loss of a parent’s guidance or the companionship of a spouse or partner.
Filing a wrongful death claim often becomes a complicated process, especially if any parties contest their liability for the accident. Those seeking compensation may even need to file a formal lawsuit with a Napa civil court to reach a resolution. Usually, your Napa wrongful death lawyer will first file a claim with the defendant's insurer. If a settlement cannot be negotiated between all parties during this first phase, your lawyer will go on to file an official complaint and issue the defendant a court summons.
Once the suit has been duly filed, the pre-trial process of discovery will begin. This process includes the following steps:
- Interrogatories - These are mainly written questions. A claimant and defendant will both have the chance to send inquiries. These must be answered under oath by all relevant parties.
- Depositions - This term essentially means an in-person interview. The defendant’s attorney will depose you and your lawyer will depose the defendant as well as any other witnesses or parties who are associated with the case.
- Requests for Admissions and Documents - Your attorney is able to request documents that are relevant to your case. These may include vehicle maintenance records, workplace safety documentation, product literature, and more. In addition to documents, requests for admission can be given to the opposing party. These require one to deny or admit particular facts related to the case.
Through this whole process, one should keep in mind that settlement negotiations will be taking place between your lawyer and the defendant’s attorney. Often, the defendant's insurer will initially make a low-ball offer for the settlement and gradually increase the amount they are willing to pay as litigation proceeds. It is possible that you may need to attend a court-ordered mediation to settle the case without having to take it all the way to a trial.
If an agreement cannot be made, the case will continue to trial. During this trial, a jury and/or judge will be presented with arguments from both sides and will be asked to make a decision about the conduct of the defendant and how much money they owe to the claimant.Why Should I Have a Napa Wrongful Death Lawyer?
As you can read above, the whole process of dealing with a wrongful death case can be a long and complicated ordeal. Having a legal team on your side that can help you build and argue a successful claim is important. Things such as interviewing witnesses, reviewing medical records and finances, depositions, and filing legal documents with courts are best handled by a professional with adequate experience. Those who’ve lost a loved one should be able to focus on emotional healing while a lawyer takes care of their case.
An experienced Napa wrongful death lawyer will be able to handle the case in a detailed, effective manner. Your lawyer can make use of relevant legal codes and statutes to negotiate with insurers. Once your lawyer has gathered all of the evidence and constructed a compelling case, he or she will be well-equipped to argue your case in front of a courtroom.
The video below explains what wrongful death claims are and when to know if a claim is worth pursuing.Napa Wrongful Death Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Napa Wrongful Death Lawyer who has more than 36 years of experience working in the Napa area. Losing someone you love can be very difficult, especially if that person was lost suddenly in an accident. If your loved one or family member was killed because of a party’s negligence, I can help. Get in touch with me as soon as you can by calling me at either (707) 564-1900 or (800) 404-5400. Otherwise, you can contact me through my website.
Photo: "flowers" by vlanka through cc0pixabay
:ms cha [cs 1192]
Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 12.23.19]