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A Brief Overview of the Wrongful Death Litigation Process

This content about Wrongful Death Litigation was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.

Wrongful death suits allow certain surviving family members to recover damages for the death of a loved one resulting from a wrongful act. These cases can be complex, depending on the circumstances. Still, the help of a skilled attorney during a wrongful death litigation process can help you use that valuable time to start healing. At the same time, they act on your behalf to recover any compensation available for your loss.

Once your attorney has determined that the case is viable by doing a preliminary investigation, the wrongful death litigation process can begin. Though the cases may be complex, the litigation process itself is relatively straightforward. Here’s a look at some of the most important parts of a wrongful death litigation process.

Identifying the representative and beneficiaries

The first stage usually focuses on identifying the decedent’s survivors and designating a personal representative for the decedent party’s estate, who will act as the plaintiff. A claim can then be filed by said representative on behalf of the surviving family members. In California, the statute is very clear regarding who are considered survivors, such as the decedent’s spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren, and anyone else who would be entitled to the property of the decedent under intestate succession laws.

Filing a claim

Once the survivors and the personal representative have been designated, a suit is filed against the responsible party requesting damages. These damages can be economic or non-economic (such as loss of companionship). Following the filing, the process of discovery begins, which involves each side, making requests for relevant information and documents that can support their claims or refute the opposing side’s defenses. Also, this process involves the identification of witnesses who will later be asked questions under oath to establish key facts of the case. This will help determine the extent of damages that may be owed to the plaintiff.

Mediation or trial

Before a court date is set, the parties will most likely try to mediate, aiming to settle the matter out of court. However, if the parties cannot reach an agreement, they will request a trial date and rely on a jury to decide if the defendant is liable for the wrongful death and if so, the monetary compensation that the plaintiff is entitled to. It’s important to keep in mind that this process can be lengthy and stressful. Relying on an attorney who is experienced in wrongful death litigation can take some of that burden off your shoulders.

Consult with a lawyer specialized in wrongful death litigation

The circumstances surrounding a wrongful death case are often very tragic and can weigh very heavily on surviving family members. An attorney with proven experience in California wrongful death litigation knows this and he/she will go over the process with you, allowing you and your family to make an informed decision.

Haddad & Sherwin LLP has a long, successful track record winning wrongful death and other serious civil rights claims for police and jail officer misconduct, throughout Northern and Central California.  Call or email us for a free consultation.

This content was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.