Losing a loved one is never easy. When the death is unexpected and could have been prevented, it can be especially challenging. While you deal with grief following the death of a loved one, unpaid medical bills and loss of income add further stress.
Recovering compensation from the responsible party for a wrongful death is critical. This is especially true when the deceased is the primary earner for your household. Fortunately, a Sacramento personal injury lawyer can protect your financial future while you cope during this difficult time.
Triumph Law has helped our clients recover millions of dollars in damages over the years. Our Sacramento wrongful death lawyers can help you get the money you need following a wrongful death.
Accidents Often Result in Wrongful Death Claims
Many people wonder what constitutes wrongful death. Wrongful death refers to the negligent or intentional killing of someone, which creates a legal liability for damages. Some common causes of wrongful death include:
- Motor vehicle accidents: Fatalities caused by reckless or dangerous driving behaviors like drunk driving, speeding, and distracted driving. Our Sacramento motorcycle accident lawyers, pedestrian accident lawyers, and truck accident attorneys often handle wrongful death actions.
- Workplace accidents: Fatal accidents are often caused by unsafe working conditions, defective equipment, failure to follow safety procedures, or other negligence. Falls from height related to construction accidents are common.
- Medical malpractice: Death resulting from errors or negligence during medical treatment or surgery. When dealing with medical professionals and healthcare organizations, it is important to have legal representation to help you succeed in any type of personal injury lawsuit.
- Premises liability: Death caused by dangerous or defective conditions on someone’s property, like faulty equipment, poor lighting, lack of safety guards, etc. Property owners have a duty of care to keep visitors and employees safe. When an untimely death results from dangerous premises conditions, a personal injury attorney can help you take legal action against the at-fault party.
- Product liability: Death caused by defective, dangerous, or improperly designed consumer goods like cars, appliances, tools, building materials, etc. Defective products like faulty tires, dangerous medications, and defective medical devices are commonly named in wrongful death claims.
- Homicide: Death resulting from the criminal acts of another person, like murder, manslaughter, assault, domestic violence, mass shootings, and other intentional causes.
- Toxic exposure: Death attributed to chemical, radiation, or environmental exposures at workplaces or in communities.
The deceased victim’s surviving family members may be entitled to compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Sacramento?
There are strict regulations on who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim and an order in which these potential claimants can file. Those who may be eligible to file a personal injury claim for wrongful death include:
- The spouse of the deceased person
- Surviving children of the deceased
- Other dependent minors living in the household of the deceased
- Parents of the deceased
- Other heirs
- A personal representative of the estate
The Spouse of the Deceased
The first person eligible to file a claim will be the spouse of the deceased if they were married at the time of the death or if they are a registered domestic partner. If the deceased was not married or the spouse or domestic partner waives their priority position, the next party in line will be able to file.
Surviving Children of the Deceased
Next in line to file a claim are any surviving children of the deceased. This category includes biological children, adopted children, and stepchildren. If the children are minors, a guardian will be appointed to pursue compensation on their behalf. If the children are deceased but there are surviving grandchildren, they will be eligible to file.
Other Dependent Minors Living in the Household of the Deceased
Dependents living with the deceased at the time of their death who are not legal children of the wrongful death victim are next up to file a claim. To qualify, the claimant must have been dependent on the deceased for at least half of their financial support and lived in the household for at least six months.
Parents of the Deceased
If there were no claimants that fell into the above categories or if any potential claimants declined to pursue a claim, the wrongful death victim’s parents will be eligible to file if they can prove financial dependence.
If no other claimants come forward, other heirs will have the right to file a claim in the following order:
- Non-dependent parents
- Children of deceased siblings
- Children of any deceased spouse
- Next of kin
A Personal Representative of the Estate
In cases where numerous parties are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit, the claimants can choose to have a lawyer file a single claim on behalf of the estate, which will then be divided among the claimants as set forth under California’s wrongful death statute.
Be Sure to File Your Sacramento Wrongful Death Lawsuit Before Time Runs Out
When filing a wrongful death lawsuit following the unexpected death of a loved one in Sacramento, it is critical that you know the filing deadline. The wrongful death statute of limitations in California grants claimants two years to file a lawsuit against the liable party following the loss of a loved one. Failure to respect this time limit could mean the loss of your right to recover compensation.
However, you need to understand that the standard two-year deadline does not apply in all cases. The details of your case could potentially enable you to file a lawsuit long after the typical deadline has passed. At the same time, you could just as easily find yourself in a position where you have far less than two years to file.
The best way to protect yourself against unexpected deadlines is by hiring an experienced wrongful death lawyer serving Sacramento soon after your accident.
Recoverable Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
After losing a loved one in a wrongful death accident, there are a variety of damages you will be eligible to recover in a civil lawsuit. Financial losses and the impact on your life will be considered.
The exact damages you qualify for will depend on your case details. All of the compensatory damages you will be able to collect are split into the categories of economic and non-economic damages.
Every monetary loss caused by the death of your loved one is considered to belong in the category of economic damages. The economic damages most commonly associated with wrongful death cases include:
- Lost future earnings of the deceased
- Medical expenses for treatment to the deceased before their death
- Funeral expenses
- Burial expenses
All other losses resulting from the death of a loved one belong in the incredibly broad category of non-economic damages. The types of damages most commonly associated with wrongful death cases include:
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Diminished ability to enjoy life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
In certain situations, you may also be eligible to collect punitive damages for the loss of your loved one. However, these damages are only available in a small percentage of wrongful death cases.
To qualify, the death of your loved one must have resulted from actions intended to cause harm or gross negligence.
Reach Out to an Experienced Sacramento Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
When dealing with the death of a loved one, the last thing you need to be worrying about is pursuing a legal claim. When you hire an experienced wrongful death attorney in Sacramento, they will take over every aspect of your case, leaving you free to focus on more important things. You can rest assured that your financial future is in good hands.
When choosing a lawyer, you must go with a legal team experienced in wrongful death cases and with a history of securing favorable outcomes for their clients both in and out of court. Contact us today for a free case evaluation to learn more.