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Quick Q&A on Wrongful Death Litigation

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 litigation has ins and outs that need the intervention of an experienced lawyer. If a loved one has passed away as a result of negligence or intention from someone who was supposed to hold a duty of care towards them and breached it, you most likely have questions. Here are some of the most common doubts that usually arise about wrongful death litigation.

How can a relative start a wrongful death lawsuit?

A relative will have to file a series of documents to officially start a wrongful death lawsuit after they have established that the death of their loved one has grounds for being brought to this kind of claim – an experienced attorney should help you with this.

The first two documents are a complaint (petition) and a summons; the former informs the legal and factual reasons for the case, and the latter is a notification informing the defendant that he is being sued and where.

Then, there’s the service of process, where all relevant documents are collected and given to the defendant(s) once the case has been filed.

How long does the relative have to file the lawsuit?

There is a statute of limitations for each type of claim, and in the case of wrongful death, it is usually around two years (this is true for the state of California). However, different types of death have different statutes of limitations. Medical malpractice, for instance, takes three years, or one year from the discovery of the malpractice as the cause of death. Accident fatality statute of limitations can be reduced if an institutional officer is involved.

Are personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits related?

Both are different claims. However, a person who was severely injured in an accident could file for personal injury, and later on, die from unrelated causes. Still, their claim can be brought to a lawsuit by their relative. The relative can as well file a civil suit for wrongful death to recover damages from the decedent’s loss.

Can a company or institution be sued for wrongful death?

Yes, the manufacturing company or the institution involved in the death can be sued. This is common if the case involves product liability (a defective product that may have been responsible for the injury that caused death).

In the case of medical malpractice, can medical records of the decedent be disclosed?

In general, there is a privilege of privacy between a doctor and a patient not to have any medical information disclosed without the patient’s consent. However, a court order could be able to breach this privilege in the event of being necessary in a medical malpractice case, for instance. This is a delicate matter that needs to be discussed with an experienced attorney.

Can criminal charges be pushed against the defendant in wrongful death litigation?

If the death was caused intentionally, there might be grounds for a criminal case against the defendant. However, a criminal case and a civil case for wrongful death are different processes that seek different ends, punishing for murder and getting prison penalty, and being awarded damages, respectively.

Can a non-dependent relative file for wrongful death?

It depends on the regulations in each state, but generally, direct relatives and dependents are the first eligible plaintiffs for a wrongful death claim. You should get direct guidance from an experienced attorney to have all the details about who can file for wrongful death.

What damages can the decedent’s relative recover?

There are economic and non-economic damages to be recovered in case of wrongful death. Among the economic damages, you can get the lost income, household services, benefits, as well as funeral and burial expenses. As for the non-economic damages, loss of love, companionship, moral support, guidance, consortium, and others, can be recovered in damages.

These are only a few of the questions a person attempting to file for wrongful death may have.

For in-depth, pertinent answers according to the particular case and state, a wrongful litigation attorney can surely handle the review and unfolding process, which may take years to complete and has intricacies that should be dealt with by a professional.

Do not hesitate to obtain legal advice if you are thinking about filing for the wrongful death of a loved one.

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 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.