Wrongful death claims are brought against a defendant who has caused someone's death, either through negligence or as a result of some intentional action. Wrongful death claims allow the estate and/or those close to a deceased person to file a lawsuit against the party who is legally liable for the death. Though each state's wrongful death laws vary, these kinds of lawsuits are usually filed by a representative of the deceased person's estate, often on behalf of surviving family members affected by the death.
When Is a Wrongful Death Claim Applicable?
A wrongful death claim can arise after situations in which a victim who would otherwise have a valid personal injury claim is killed as a result of the defendant's wrongful action. This can occur in a variety of situations, including:
When a victim is intentionally killed.
For example, O.J. Simpson was sued in civil court for the wrongful deaths of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. These civil lawsuits brought by the victims' families were separate from the state's criminal case against Simpson.
When a victim dies as a result of medical malpractice.
If a doctor fails to diagnose a condition, or if the doctor is careless in the level of care provided, and a patient dies as a result, a wrongful death action might be possible against the doctor. (Learn more about when it's medical malpractice and when it isn't.
Car accident fatalities involving negligence.
If a victim dies as a result of car accident injuries, a wrongful death claim may be brought.
These are just a few examples of personal injury cases that can turn into wrongful death claims. A wrongful death claim can stem from almost any kind of personal injury situation, although one notable exception may exist for work injuries that result in death, which usually must be handled exclusively through the worker's compensation system.
Who Can File for Wrongful Death in California?
State laws usually govern who can file a lawsuit after the wrongful death of a loved one. In California, surviving spouses, domestic partners, and children of the deceased may seek compensation. The deceased’s parents or siblings may also be able to file suit.
To bring a claim for wrongful death, you must have evidence that the cause of death was most likely the result of the negligent or intentional actions of the person or company you’re naming in your claim.
Your San Jose wrongful death attorney will handle the process of obtaining police reports, securing medical documents, and tracking down other evidence on your behalf.
Accidents That Lead to Wrongful Deaths
Almost any incident that results in death because of someone else’s negligence could warrant a wrongful death claim. However, several types of accidents are particularly common causes of wrongful death.
These include the following:
Defective product accidents
The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult things you can experience. You shouldn’t have to deal with the stress of pursuing the compensation you deserve on top of that. Instead, hire a San Jose wrongful death attorney.
Losing a loved one is devastating. You may feel the impact of such a personal loss across all areas of your life. The emotional trauma can be unbearable, and the financial burden can be challenging, too.
If someone else’s negligence contributed to the accident that resulted in your family’s loss, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim.
If you choose to pursue compensation after your loved one’s death, a San Jose wrongful death lawyer at Law Office of Warren Nguyen can help you throughout the process. While no amount of money will ever make up for your painful loss, a proper settlement and successful resolution of your claim may offer some sense of justice.
What Must Be Proven?
In order to hold the defendant liable in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiffs in the claim (usually through the estate of the deceased victim) must meet the same burden of proof that the victim would have had to meet had the victim lived. So, using negligence as an example, this means showing that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care, that the defendant breached this duty, that the breach of duty was a direct and proximate cause of the death, and that the death caused the damages that the plaintiff is trying to recover. Learn more about proving negligence in a personal injury case.
Compensation for the Death of a Family Member
Various personal injury damages are possible in a wrongful death claim in California. While specific award amounts fluctuate based on the circumstances of each case, damages are usually divided according to whether they compensate the deceased’s estate for losses associated with the death of the deceased’s surviving family members for the losses they’ve suffered as a result of the death.
Losses that are often associated with the estate can include the following:
Medical bills or costs incurred during the deceased’s final injury or illness
Funeral and any other burial expenses
Lost income, including future income the deceased, would have been expected to earn
>The surviving family members often recover the following types of damages:
Loss of anticipated income
Value of other household contributions
Lost prospect of inheritance
Loss of love, companionship, emotional support, and guidance
Your pain matters, and we want to help you find some solace after this inconceivable loss.
Negotiating a Settlement for a Fatal Accident
Even at such a terrible moment, insurance companies and other parties will do everything they can to settle your claim for the smallest dollar amount possible. They don’t want to risk an attorney getting involved, especially after a fatal accident.
Insurers usually make a lowball offer when you’re at your most vulnerable and hope you will settle as fast as possible without thinking about the full value of your claim.
But your San Jose wrongful death attorney will ensure that your voice is heard. We’ll interact with the insurance company on your behalf, negotiating and taking care of all communication so you’re free to concentrate on the grieving process.
We’ll also investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of your loved one. Gathering evidence and witness testimony is most effective as close to the time of wrongful death as possible.
After the unexpected death of a loved one, we often cope by thinking in minutes and hours. Unfortunately, California mandates that a wrongful death claim be filed within two years< of a loved one’s death. Hiring a lawyer will ensure that you don’t miss your chance to recover the compensation you’re owed.
Get Help from a San Jose Wrongful Death Attorney
The pain of losing a loved one is unimaginable, and the resulting financial losses can be debilitating. Filing a wrongful death claim may not ease the emotional pain, but financial justice may reduce your stress so you can focus on grieving.
Law Office of Warren Nguyen can help you and your family secure comprehensive compensation for the wrongful loss of your loved one. We’re here to provide the best legal representation possible during this difficult time.
To speak with a San Jose wrongful death lawyer at our firm, call us at (408) 603-9751.