CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: What We Are Doing to Protect Our Clients

Yuba City Wrongful Death Lawyer

cemetery

The death of a loved one is always devastating.  It is one of the hardest things we go through as humans.  Even an uncomplicated, peaceful, and natural death results in grief and mourning.  When the loss is compounded by the circumstances surrounding a tragic accident, the feelings can be even more intense. Losing a loved one due to negligence can cause the grieving process to be complicated by feelings of anger, guilt, confusion, and even a desire for vengeance. It makes sense that accidental deaths caused by negligence, carelessness, or recklessness fall into a legal category known as "wrongful" deaths.

In addition to complicated grief, sudden, accidental deaths can leave surviving family members in a tough financial situation, especially if the deceased was the household's primary earner.  Besides the loss of income, there are expenses related to the funeral and burial to consider.  During such a difficult time, the last thing anyone wants to worry about is money.  

When death is caused by the negligence, carelessness, recklessness, or intentional conduct of another, the decedent’s surviving heirs may be able to initiate a wrongful death claim.  If you have suffered the heartbreaking loss of a loved one due to another party’s negligence, an experienced Yuba City wrongful death lawyer can help protect your family’s legal rights and work to maximize your financial recovery.  

Wrongful Death - Causes

Some examples of circumstances that could lead to wrongful death are:

  • Traffic accidents: vehicular or bicycle/pedestrian
  • Medical malpractice or negligence
  • Slip and fall incidents
  • Intentional acts/assaults

Investigation of wrongful death cases can be extremely difficult and emotional for the surviving family. Thorough investigation, however, is crucial to the success of a claim.  A skilled and experienced Yuba City wrongful death attorney will be able to take much of the case-related stress off the family members' minds.  The grieving process should not be needlessly entangled with questions surrounding the related legal matter.  This is one of the many reasons it is beneficial to retain a compassionate lawyer who can protect your legal rights.

Can Wrongful Death Also be Homicide?

While all homicides are wrongful deaths, not all wrongful deaths are homicides. Homicide is a criminal charge that refers to the intentional and unlawful killing of another person.  It is possible for there to be both a criminal case and a civil wrongful death claim for monetary damages stemming from the same incident.  However, most civil wrongful death cases involve simple negligence, which would not give rise to a criminal matter.  

If there is a concurrent criminal matter related to the incident that caused your loved one's death, it is sometimes better to let the criminal case conclude before attempting to settle the civil wrongful death matter.  If the defendant is found guilty of criminal charges, they will nearly always be found responsible for damages in the civil matter.  Even if the criminal case does not result in a finding of guilt, the burden of proof is not as high in a civil matter as it is in a criminal case. That is why you often see high-profile civil lawsuits filed in cases even after a defendant was found not guilty at the criminal trial.  Again, a Yuba City wrongful death lawyer can help you navigate these legal complexities and help you make the best decisions for you and your family. 

Who Can File a California Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Not just anyone has the legal authority to file a lawsuit to recover damages related to wrongful death.  Only those with certain relationships to the deceased can do so.  Examples include:

  • The surviving spouse or domestic partner
  • The decedent’s children

If there is no spouse and the deceased had no children, the law allows those who would have the right to the decedent’s estate in order of succession to file a claim or lawsuit.  This could include the decedent’s parents or siblings.  For more information about who is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit, please consult a qualified Yuba City wrongful death attorney.  

What Damages are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Matter?

Both economic and non-economic damages may be recovered by family members through a wrongful death lawsuit. Economic damages are demonstrable and objective and are essentially an accounting of the financial expenses and future losses that will result from the untimely death.  Some examples include:

  • Any medical expenses that the decedent incurred related to the injuries that resulted in his or her death
  • Burial and funeral expenses
  • Loss of expected and reasonable future income
  • The value of the household services the decedent would have performed

Examples of non-economic damages that may be recovered in a wrongful death case include:

  • Loss of love, companionship, and affection
  • Loss of sexual relations (spouse or domestic partner)
  • Loss of parental guidance (children of the deceased)

Documenting economic and non-economic damages thoroughly and compellingly is crucial to a successful wrongful death matter. This is one of the biggest benefits of having an expert wrongful death attorney working on your case. Gathering all evidence to account for past and future economic damages is not an easy task and not one that it is recommended you embark upon unguided.  More challenging still is the emotional task of compiling evidence to support the noneconomic damage claims.  A compassionate attorney can lead you through this difficult process.

Is There a Time Limit to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

California has a two-year personal injury statute of limitations that most wrongful death lawsuits fall under.  That means that the claim must be settled, or a lawsuit must be filed before the second anniversary of the death.  

There are circumstances under which that time limit is much shorter, only a matter of months.  If the negligent party is a governmental or public agency, action must be taken within six months of the death, or the family could lose all rights to recover from that particular defendant.  

Minors typically have more time in which to file suit - the statute of limitations begins to run once they reach the age of majority - 18 years old.  

Because there are so many complexities to these legal cases and missing a deadline to file could destroy your right to obtain financial compensation, we advise retaining an experienced Yuba City wrongful death lawyer.  

Watch the YouTube video below that discusses the grieving process.

Yuba City Wrongful Death Lawyer

If you have found this page because you have lost a loved one due to wrongful death, we are truly sorry.  The grieving process is different for everyone, but the searing pain is universal.  Our compassionate injury lawyers can offer free and friendly advice.  If appropriate, we can then set up a no-obligation consultation to go over the details of your potential case.  Do not hesitate to seek experienced legal counsel, which can help ease your mind of some of its burdens.   Call us at (530) 392-9400 or from outside the local area code at (800) 404-5400.

Researching and deciding on an attorney to help with your important case can be daunting.  Here are some links that will help you get to know our firm better:

Client reviews can be found on Avvo, Yelp, and Google

Please also review our Verdicts and Settlements page.

Image by vlanka from Pixabay 

mm [cs 1219] cha

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!" 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.