Accidental injuries are the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for an average of 146,500 deaths per year. Numerous people who die suddenly and unexpectedly leave behind spouses, children, parents, and other loved ones who never anticipated such a tragedy.
Surviving family members may not know how to proceed in the wake of these unexpected financial and emotional losses. At Conlogue Law LLP, our competent Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer can represent a victim’s surviving family members. Although some claims for wrongful death may appear simple, defendants will almost always fight aggressively to avoid liability.
During the difficult period following the death of a loved one, family members may benefit from our law firm’s resources and experience in fighting for justice on their behalf.
Why Do I Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer in California?
The process of litigation can be time-consuming and stressful, as it involves numerous rules and procedures. Among the many things our skilled Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer will do during litigation are the following:
The Filing of the Lawsuit
A lawsuit for wrongful death has numerous requirements and must be persuasive enough to present your case and withstand challenges from the opposing party.
There are numerous methods for gathering evidence in your favor, including investigations, depositions, document requests, and others.
Confronting the Opponent’s Defenses
Certainly, the opposing party will raise legal defenses to avoid liability. Our personal injury attorney will respond to challenge these defenses and defend your recovery rights.
Negotiate a Favorable Settlement
The majority of wrongful death lawsuits are settled outside of court, but this does not mean you should accept an inadequate settlement to avoid going to court. Our resourceful wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles, CA, will effectively use new arguments and evidence to negotiate until you receive the settlement offer you deserve.
Represent You Before a Jury
If the responsible party refuses to make a reasonable settlement offer, our Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer will present your case at trial, which is governed by stringent rules of evidence and procedure. This occurs in a courtroom before a judge and jury.
What is a Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death claim could be filed for any act of negligence or illegality that results in the death of another person. In general, these claims result from negligent, irresponsible, or willful actions with fatal consequences. Cases of wrongful death result from a wide variety of actions, including automobile accidents and violent assaults.
A claim for wrongful death is a civil action that may result in monetary compensation from the negligent party. Depending on the applicable state law, these claims for wrongful death generally serve two purposes.
First, they function as a type of personal injury claim on behalf of the deceased. Any claim for negligence that the deceased could have filed in their name could result in a claim for wrongful death.
The second type of claim for wrongful death involves the effect of the loss on the surviving family members. For their loss of companionship and financial support, these relatives may be entitled to compensation.
These claims are typically filed at a difficult time for the potential plaintiffs and are typically complex. Do not attempt to handle a viable wrongful death claim on your own if you believe you have one. Contact Conlogue Law LLP for assistance with your case. You can call today for a free consultation.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Wrongful Death Cases?
Unfortunately, wrongful death can occur without warning and at any time. No matter how cautious a person is in their day-to-day activities, another person’s carelessness can strike unexpectedly and result in devastating losses.
Automobile and Motorcycle Crashes
Even if all traffic laws are followed, another driver’s carelessness or recklessness can cause a serious accident.
Because trucks are so much larger and heavier than everything else around them, they pose a significant threat to other vehicles and pedestrians when trucking companies employ illegal policies that force their drivers to work long hours with insufficient rest, the likelihood of trucking accidents increases.
Bicyclist or Pedestrian Accidents
Bicyclists and pedestrians are the least protected road users, making them susceptible to injury at the hands of other vehicles.
By a medical professional, medical personnel, or hospital.
Customers, invitees, and even some trespassers have a right to a hazard-free environment on the premises of a property owner.
A defective product could cause severe injury or death. Millions of people rely on manufactured products, such as pacemakers and glucose monitoring devices, to maintain their health. Even common consumer goods, such as faulty airbags and kitchen appliances, can have catastrophic consequences when they malfunction.
Is Wrongful Death Considered a Crime?
A claim for wrongful death is not a crime. Nonetheless, the circumstances that lead to a claim for wrongful death may also result in a criminal investigation or prosecution. However, there are several significant distinctions between these two types of cases. A claim for wrongful death is a civil lawsuit.
It can result from any death caused by the carelessness of an individual or organization. While it is possible that a homicide could lead to a claim of wrongful death, not all potential cases of wrongful death involve criminal acts. As civil litigation, wrongful death claims are brought by private personal injury attorneys. If successful, they result in monetary damages being awarded against the defendant.
In several ways, criminal offenses differ from civil cases. Ultimately, an elected district attorney or prosecutor will decide whether or not to file criminal charges against the party at fault. If the state prevails in a criminal case, the typical outcome is imprisonment or fines.
Both instances can occur simultaneously. Ultimately, the state’s decision to file criminal charges has no bearing on your ability to file a civil suit. Some states, however, require civil defendants to put their cases on hold until criminal charges have been resolved.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death Claim?
To comprehend what a wrongful death claim is, one must first understand what it is not. A claim for wrongful death is not a criminal proceeding. A conviction will not result in imprisonment or fines. The district attorney does not participate in the filing of these lawsuits.
Instead, a claim for wrongful death is a civil action. If your claim is successful, the party at fault will compensate you financially. These claims can arise from any death resulting from the negligence of another person or organization.
Claims for wrongful death can result from a variety of negligent actions. Car accidents, sporting accidents, violent crimes, motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, and slip and fall injuries are just a few of the most common types of wrongful death claims.
These claims frequently result in a wrongful death lawsuit. These lawsuits are filed against the party at fault, but they may not be the only parties with interest in the case. If a policy existed that could cover the death, the insurance company for the defendant will be extremely interested.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In the state of California, strict regulations govern who may and may not file a wrongful death claim. The following parties have the greatest claim to the lawsuit:
If your spouse or domestic partner was the victim of wrongful death, you have the legal right to file a lawsuit for wrongful death and seek compensation for your loss. You are likely entitled to numerous economic and non-economic damages as the surviving spouse.
You have the right to seek compensation if you’ve lost a biological or adoptive parent. Additionally, there are several additions to this category. For instance, if you are the victim’s stepchild and can demonstrate financial dependence, you may also file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Additionally, any minors who lived with the deceased for at least 180 days before their death and can demonstrate financial independence may also claim independence.
You may file a claim for wrongful death if you are the parent of the decedent. This only applies if your child was a minor or an adult without descendants at the time of death.
If no spouse, child, or parent can be identified as the victim’s survivor, another surviving family member may be deemed the victim’s “heir.” In the absence of a valid will, heirs are the individuals who are legally and logically entitled to inherit the deceased individual’s property.
How to Prove a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
Before you can recover damages for the death of a loved one, you or your wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles, CA, must establish that wrongful death occurred. In general, proving a wrongful death claim requires evidence that someone’s negligence caused the death of your loved one.
You will not be required to prove that the defendant attempted to kill your loved one or even intended to injure them. The burden of proof is instead determined by the legal theory of negligence. There are four primary elements of negligence that a talented Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer must prove to be more likely true than false.
Duty of Care Owed
The defendant must have owed your family member a duty of reasonable care. The specific obligations owed to the victim depend on their relationship with the offender. For example, a friend providing medical advice will have different responsibilities than a licensed physician or medical professional.
Duty of Care Breached or Violated
There must be evidence that the defendant breached their duty of care. A breach can refer to any act or omission that exceeds the defendant’s duty of care. If another individual would have taken a different action, the defendant may be guilty of breach of duty.
Accident or Injury Caused
The defendant’s negligence or misconduct must be the actual cause of your loved one’s serious injury. Your wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles must demonstrate that your loved one’s death would have been avoided if the defendant had fulfilled their duties of care.
Lastly, your family will be required to provide evidence that the defendant’s negligence resulted in compensable losses. Our skilled Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer can assist you in compiling a list of the resulting damages, such as medical bills, property damage, lost wages, funeral expenses, and mental anguish.
How Are Damages Calculated in a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
After our versed Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer has determined the possible types of damages available in your wrongful death case, it is necessary to calculate the exact amount sought through the claim. Certain damages, such as funeral costs, are naturally simpler to calculate than others.
To determine this amount, you must add together all funeral home and other burial service provider bills and receipts. In California, only reasonable expenses are reimbursable, so you cannot have an extravagant funeral for your deceased loved one and expect to be reimbursed for extravagant costs such as a mausoleum.
Other damages, such as future earnings, are significantly more difficult to calculate. These types of damages take the following factors into account:
- How old was the individual at the time of death, and how many more years could they have been expected to work and earn a living
- The deceased’s education and skill sets
- The deceased’s potential for career-long adjustments to income through promotions, raises, and bonuses
- How wages would be adjusted to account for inflation over time
- Contributions to retirement accounts and Social Security benefits the deceased would have received.
Taking into account all of these factors can be difficult, and you will often require the assistance of professionals to arrive at an accurate estimate.
What Are the Available Compensations for Wrongful Death Claims in California?
The primary objective of a wrongful death claim is to compensate surviving family members for various losses incurred as a result of their loved one’s death. In general, family members can seek compensation for economic and non-economic losses, but the available damages depend on the specifics of each case.
Economic or General Damages
Economic damages compensate families for financial losses that can be demonstrated through bills, receipts, and other financial documents. Courts may also award economic damages for lost future earnings or household services.
For instance, if a spouse would have likely worked for another 30 years, the surviving spouse may seek 30 years’ worth of lost future income, taking into account expected wage increases, inflation, and other factors.
These calculations frequently necessitate the assistance of economic and occupational specialists, which our personal injury attorneys regularly employ. Economic damages may include:
- Burial expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses incurred for the loved one before death.
- Lost earnings of a loved one
Non-Economic or Special Damages
No amount of money can ever replace the presence of a spouse, parent, or child, but courts may award additional compensation for the loss of love, affection, companionship, moral support, and sexual intimacy when appropriate.
If a case cannot be resolved before trial, the jury may determine the amount of compensation required to compensate a family for the loss of their relationship with a loved one. Taking legal action after a wrongful death is never simple, especially when you are grieving and adjusting to life without a loved one.
However, asserting your legal rights does not necessarily entail additional stress. Our Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer strives to alleviate as much stress as possible for our clients and advocate on their behalf during difficult times.
What is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and a Survival Claim?
Typically, after the untimely death of a loved one, the surviving family members can file either a wrongful death claim or a survival claim. A claim for wrongful death seeks to compensate surviving family members for their losses. Survival actions seek to compensate the estate of the deceased for their specific losses.
Survivors, such as a spouse or children, can file a wrongful death claim, but only a representative of the deceased’s estate can file a survival action claim. For survival actions, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the injury or six months after the decedent’s death, whichever is later.
The statute of limitations for a claim of wrongful death is two years from the date of death of the decedent. The available damages in each claim also vary. A wrongful death action seeks to compensate the surviving family members for the emotional and financial losses they incurred as a result of the decedent’s passing.
Their compensation parameters may include mental anguish, loss of parental guidance, loss of spousal love, and reasonable funeral and burial costs. In a survival claim, the decedent’s estate may be compensated similarly to how the decedent would have been compensated in a personal injury claim had they not died.
This compensation could cover private property repairs, medical expenses, lost wages, and punitive damages.
The two-year statute of limitations period begins when family members should have known of the decedent’s passing. If you lose a loved one due to the carelessness of another person, you cannot afford to waste time. Contact our office as soon as possible to avoid potential issues with the statute of limitations for wrongful death in California.
Filing a Legal Action Against a Government Entity
If a government entity or employee caused the wrongful death of your loved one, you have only six months from the date of death to file a wrongful death action. This exception applies if your loved one died in a car accident involving a government-owned vehicle or one caused by a federal or state employee.
Minors Pursuing Wrongful Death Claims
Another exception to the two-year statute of limitations applies if you are a minor and intend to file a wrongful death claim for the death of a parent. In this instance, you must file a wrongful death claim within two years of your 18th birthday. Instead of starting when your parents die, the clock begins when you turn 18 years old.
Other limited exceptions to California’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims are as follows:
- When the defendant leaves the state following an accident, the statute of limitations begins upon their return.
- When the plaintiff is imprisoned at the time of the death of a family member, the statute of limitations begins when the plaintiff is released.
- When the plaintiff is mentally ill or in a coma, the limitations period begins when they are declared legally competent.
Despite these limited exceptions, you should always contact our qualified Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer immediately to discuss your case.
Talk to Our Experienced Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Especially if the death is unexpected, the loss of a loved one can be emotionally and financially taxing on a family. Pursuing a wrongful death claim according to California law against the person responsible for the death of your loved one can help you financially and provide the closure you may require.
Our Los Angeles personal injury lawyer at Conlogue Law LLP can get you the financial compensation you deserve, whether it’s from the insurance company or the liable party.
With years of experience serving the California region, we are dedicated to providing our clients with the resources they need to obtain the just compensation their family deserves. Contact our personal injury law office immediately.