Finding Justice for a Loved One after a Fatal Accident
WLF Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help
Have you lost a loved one in an accident? You are not alone. Every year, thousands of people are killed in motor vehicle crashes and other accidents. If your loved one’s death was caused by the reckless, careless or negligent actions of someone else, then contact a wrongful death lawyer to seek justice for him or her.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit which seeks compensation from the guilty party for the survivor’s losses, including loss of companionship, medical bills, loss of future earning capacity, and funeral expenses. Even if a defendant is exonerated in a criminal case, he or she can still be held liable for damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
What are the types of damages you can seek?
‘Damage’ is the term that personal injury lawyers use to mean a sum of money claimed by or awarded to a plaintiff in compensation for a loss or injury. In the event that a loved one is killed in an accident, you can seek the following damages from the guilty party.
- Economic damages: These are the financial losses suffered by the family members of the deceased. They include medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of earnings, etc. They can even include loss of services and goods provided by the deceased while he or she was living. The claims should be substantiated by documentary evidence, such as hospital bills.
- Non-economic damages: These are the non-financial losses suffered by the family members of the deceased. They include pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and loss of protection, care and guidance, etc. The monetary value of these losses is often determined using a special formula.
- Punitive damages: These are the damages that are awarded to punish the individual or entity that caused the death, whether deliberately or through negligence. Punitive damages are rarely awarded; but if you can prove that the guilty party caused the death by deliberate action or egregious negligence, then you may ask the court to award these damages to you.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
Under California law, only a legal heir of the deceased can file a wrongful death lawsuit and recover the damages. The heir should be identified in the code section CCP Section 377.60. A legal heir may not necessarily be the surviving spouse or children of the deceased. In case a person dies intestate, i.e. without a will, his or her heirs are determined according to the laws of the state. Only those individuals named as heir can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In general, the people who can seek damages include spouse, children and sometimes parents of the deceased.
What’s the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim or lawsuit?
The statute of limitations is the period within which a claim or lawsuit must be filed. The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim or suit varies from one state to another. In California, there are at least three statute of limitations:
- In most situations, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of injury or death.
- If the death was caused due to medical malpractice, then the statute of limitations is three years from the date of death or one year after the discovery of injury that led to death.
- If the death was caused by government property, such as a fire truck, which are usually protected by sovereign immunity, then the statute of limitations is six months from the date of injury or death.
How to file a wrongful death lawsuit?
If you are not planning to represent yourself in the court (which you shouldn’t if you are not well-acquainted with the legal processes), then your lawyer will file the lawsuit on your behalf. He will gather all the necessary information and evidence to win the lawsuit (a process called ‘discovery’), talk to the witnesses and speak on your behalf in the court. Before the lawsuit goes to trial, he may try to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with the defendant.
As your designated representative, your wrongful death lawyer will fight until the lawsuit reaches its conclusion. He will work hard and use all his knowledge and skills to win a verdict in your favor. This is why you should carefully select your lawyer.