Experienced Orange County Wrongful Death Attorneys
A wrongful death lawsuit is usually a negligence lawsuit where someone has died. Practically any kind of negligence case can lead to a wrongful death suit. It is essentially a personal injury lawsuit with an additional element of damages. These cases can be complicated with a lot at stake, so you want to have the help of an Orange County wrongful death lawyer you can trust.
Types of Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death can result from the following types of case, among others:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Premises liability
- Product liability
- Pedestrian accidents
- Violent attacks
- Truck accidents
Families come to us after they have lost a loved one, wanting to know whether they can recover. As experienced attorneys, we recognize the difficulties and turmoil that families face when they have lost a loved one prematurely to the actions of someone else. We work with the family in a spirit of compassion, trying to give them the peace of mind they have from knowing that someone will fight for them.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Not every person in the family can submit a claim for wrongful death. Like every state, California has its own statute about wrongful death that dictates who can file a lawsuit. In this state, the following could possibly receive compensation for wrongful death:
- The deceased’s surviving spouse
- The surviving partner
- Their children and grandchildren
There is a line of descent of people who can file a wrongful death lawsuit if there is nobody in any of the categories above. Parents and siblings could file a claim if there was no spouse, partner, or descendants. You should check with a wrongful death attorney to see if you are able to bring a suit.
How to Prove a Wrongful Death Case
The biggest thing that you need to do to win your case is show that the death was actually wrongful. This means that someone else’s negligence caused the death. You would need to prove all four elements of the negligence test to establish an entitlement to compensation. They are:
- The defendant owed the deceased a duty of care
- The defendant breached that duty by acting unreasonably for the particular circumstances.
- Your loved one suffered an injury (in this case, death)
- Your loved one would not have died had it not been for the actions of the defendant.
For example, if your loved one was killed in a car accident, the fact that the other driver hit them while speeding would be negligence. In a product liability case, the lack of care that the manufacturer used while making or designing the product could be the negligence that triggers wrongful death damages.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
One of the first things that people want to know during their initial consultation is how much they can recover in a wrongful death case. It is a natural question to ask. After all, besides getting justice, the entire legal process is about being fairly compensated because your loved one cannot be brought back.
Damages in a wrongful death case are different than in a regular negligence case. The plaintiffs are able to recover for what the deceased suffered between the time of the defendant’s negligence and their death. This is similar to what a personal injury plaintiff would usually recover and could include the following:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses for their treatment, including payment for ground or air ambulance
- Pain and suffering that they felt before they died
- Funeral and burial expenses
There is a second category of damages that makes a wrongful death case different. This is what the family has suffered from the loss of their loved one. Not only did they suffer at the time that they lost their family member, but the damages continue to accrue even long after the death.
This category of damages would include the loss of the wages that the deceased would have earned from the time of their death all the way through their expected retirement date. In addition, the family can be compensated for the absence of their loved one and the role that they played as a companion or valued family member.
As you can see, there is plenty of room for a difference of opinion between the two sides in a wrongful death case. The plaintiff would insist on being fully compensated for everything that they have lost, while the defendant would likely undervalue the damages because they want to pay less. This is why you need a wrongful death attorney. Many families simply do not know the value of their claim and all of the elements for which they could be compensated.
How a Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help You
In California, there is a need to move quickly to hire a wrongful death attorney. The time limit on filing a wrongful death claim is two years after the date of death. However, you do not want to begin the legal process close to that deadline. First, there is a large chance that you may need the money, and the claims process takes time. Second, you want to try to explore a settlement before that date without risking missing the deadline. If you fail to follow the statute of limitations, you will lose the right to file a lawsuit completely.
A wrongful death case will take time and effort, especially since there are more elements of damages that could be in dispute. This is why you need to get legal help quickly. As your attorney, we would do the following:
- Investigate your case and gather the evidence
- Counsel you on your legal options and how you can best receive compensation
- File your claim for compensation and negotiate with the insurance company
- File a lawsuit in court if the settlement offer is inadequate and try your case in front of the jury
Consult With Our Orange County Wrongful Death Attorneys
If you have lost a loved one in an accident or due to some other wrongful act, the Law Offices of Brent W. Caldwell can help you. Call us today at (714) 625-8914 or contact us online to set up a time to talk. Your initial consultation is free, and you owe us nothing unless you recover money in your case.