Losing a loved one is always painful, but it is devastating when someone’s negligence causes your relative’s death. However, if you prove that another party was at fault for the accident, you could receive compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. For more information, contact our Glendale wrongful death attorneys today for a consultation.
A wrongful death claim can occur from many incidents, including car accidents, medical malpractice, product defects, and criminal activity. To potentially receive compensation in a wrongful death claim, as the plaintiff, you must prove these elements:
Importantly, wrongful death claims in California only require you to have a preponderance of the evidence to prove the defendant was liable for the death. This is not as high of a standard as a criminal case, which is beyond a reasonable doubt.
Remember that a wrongful death claim is different from any criminal case that may be related to the incident. Even if a person is acquitted of a crime, they still can be successfully sued for wrongful death.
The law stipulates that only certain parties can sue for wrongful death. Those with first priority are:
If there are no survivors in these groups, the wrongful death claim can be filed by anyone entitled to the deceased’s assets according to intestate succession. This means anyone allowed under the law to inherit the deceased’s property if the person died without a will. This group includes the deceased’s parents and siblings, among others.
In addition to those in the groups above, the following people can file a claim, if they can prove they were financially reliant on the deceased:
If a wrongful death claim is successful, you may be awarded damages for your losses. In California, the following economic and non-economic damages are available:
California does not have a general cap on damages for wrongful death lawsuits. However, a cap on medical malpractice damages applies to a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from a medical malpractice case.
In California, there is a limited time to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The limit is two years from the date of the deceased’s death. If you do not file the case within two years, the court will probably dismiss it. Your best opportunity to avoid this problem is to have the case reviewed by a qualified attorney immediately. The attorney will inform you in the initial meeting if you do not have a case.
Some of the most common questions about these cases include:
Wrongful death claims can involve car accidents, truck accidents, medical malpractice, boat and airplane accidents, defective products, dangerous chemical exposure, work accidents, criminal actions, drownings, and more.
Many potential plaintiffs are reluctant to file a wrongful death claim because they fear the legal expenses. However, most wrongful death attorneys are paid on a contingency fee basis. If the attorney fails in your case, you do not pay legal fees. The fee is a percentage of the compensation received in the case. When hiring an attorney, be sure to understand what the contingency fee is and how additional legal expenses are paid.
For example, your case could require the attorney to hire accident reconstruction experts to build the case. In addition, you should understand if those fees will be taken out of your settlement or award.
Not everyone is eligible for a wrongful death claim, but if the following factors apply, you should hire an attorney immediately:
There are some minor personal injury claims you can handle on your own. However, you should not attempt to settle a wrongful death claim without a skilled attorney. Even if there is no doubt about liability, arriving at a fair value for your case is complicated. Therefore, retaining a wrongful death lawyer who knows the law and how to determine what the case is worth is essential. Contact our Glendale wrongful death attorneys at Ourfalian & Ourfalian today at (818) 550-7777 for more information.
Ourfalian & Ourfalian has successfully represented thousands of individuals and small businesses throughout the San Fernando Valley and Southern California over the last four decades. Our experienced attorneys focus on civil litigation which includes but is not limited to helping injury victims get just compensation after serious accidents. There is a distinct culture at Ourfalian & Ourfalian that is not easy to characterize but is felt everyday by the firm’s employees and clientele. Contact our Glendale Personal Injury & Civil Litigation law practice today to schedule a free initial consultation.