Losing a loved one is painful enough without having to deal with the complex legal and financial aftermath of a wrongful death. When the negligence or misconduct of another party is to blame for your loss, you deserve justice and compensation. A Woodland personal injury lawyer can guide families through the difficult process of building a strong case and getting accountability.
Proving liability and damages in a wrongful death claim takes skill and determination. Navigating the grief while handling legal matters is overwhelming. A Woodland wrongful death lawyer understands this and can work to pursue maximum potential recovery for you.
Parties Commonly at Fault for Wrongful Death Cases
Drivers are most often at fault in motor vehicle accidents that lead to a wrongful death. Speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, and reckless behaviors like running red lights all show negligence. Commercial truck drivers may also bear responsibility for fatal crashes due to driver fatigue, overloaded trucks, or poor maintenance.
Medical professionals and healthcare facilities can be liable for medical malpractice that results in death. If improper treatment, surgical errors, misdiagnosis, or delayed diagnosis lead to a patient’s death, the providers may be culpable. Nursing homes are also frequent sources of negligence in elder wrongful death cases.
Product liability plays a role in many California wrongful death claims. Defective auto parts, dangerous drugs or devices, and faulty consumer goods can lead to fatalities when companies are negligent. Insufficient safety features and failure to warn of risks also show liability.
People Who Can Legally Claim a Wrongful Death Case
The decedent’s spouse, domestic partner, and children have the strongest claim in a wrongful death lawsuit. California law prioritizes these immediate family members when determining who can recover damages. The law also includes stepchildren in the category of eligible claimants.
If there is no surviving spouse, partner, or children, other family members may be able to bring a claim. This includes the decedent’s parents, grandparents, siblings, or anyone else financially dependent on them. Family members filing a claim with a wrongful death lawyer in Woodland must be able to show evidence of monetary support from the deceased.
The executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate can also pursue a wrongful death claim on behalf of beneficiaries. Any damages recovered will become part of the estate’s assets. If the deceased person has no surviving family members, the estate may be the only eligible claimant.
California Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death
In California, claimants generally have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This statute of limitations applies to most cases regardless of the cause of death, as long as negligence or wrongdoing was involved. Missing this filing deadline will usually result in the claim being barred.
However, there are some exceptions that extend the two-year statute. If the defendant dies before being served, the claimant has one year from the date of death to sue the defendant’s estate. The deadline may also be extended if the defendant could not be located or identified despite diligent efforts.
For the wrongful death of a minor, the statute does not begin until the day the minor turns 18. Additionally, cases involving murder or manslaughter have no statute, so there is no time limit to bring those claims. Consulting a wrongful death attorney in Woodland ensures calculating the statute correctly for your specific situation.
Types of Evidence for a Strong Case
Having solid evidence is crucial when pursuing compensation after a wrongful death. Witness statements help establish liability and fill in details about how the incident occurred. Some types of proof you should make sure you have are the following:
- Video footage or photos from surveillance cameras that can vividly show the sequence of events.
- Police and accident reports as they contain official investigator findings on contributing factors. They include statements from all parties.
- Medical records will thoroughly document the cause of death and any contributing conditions. Autopsy reports are also major pieces of proof for malpractice cases.
- Data from the vehicle or product alleged to be defective substantiates flaws. This includes collision details, maintenance records, previous complaints, and recall notices or advisories.
- Receipts, bills, and financial statements demonstrate the claimant’s monetary losses like funeral costs, lost income, and benefits.
You can also work with experts, such as accident reconstruction specialists, medical examiners, and engineers. They can analyze evidence and provide opinions on causation. Circumstantial evidence also builds a case using deductive reasoning and inferences.
Potential Compensation Options
Economic damages in a wrongful death case can include final medical and funeral costs, loss of expected income, and benefits. It also accounts for the loss of household services the deceased contributed like childcare, home maintenance, and other similar services. Calculations take into account their age, health, earning potential, and life expectancy had they lived.
Non-economic wrongful death damages aim to account for the intangible losses of losing a loved one. This compensation attempts to put a dollar figure on the loss of their companionship, guidance, nurturing, and affection. Damages also address the mental anguish, grief, trauma, and suffering experienced by surviving family members.
Punitive damages may be warranted if the liable party’s behavior was extraordinarily reckless or egregious. These are intended to punish the defendant as an example to others and to deter similar misconduct. Some cases also permit damages for a decedent’s pre-death pain and suffering if it was prolonged by negligence.
Let Triumph Law Help You Through This Difficult Time
Losing someone close to you in a tragic and unexpected way is devastating. While no amount of money can ever make up for your loss, holding the responsible parties accountable is important. A Woodland wrongful death attorney on our team can potentially help secure you the best outcome possible.
A case like this is enormously painful and grieving is important to process everything going on. Let us handle the complex legal process while you work on healing. Contact us for a free consultation, and we will see what the next step you should take is.