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 Unlawful Death Lawsuits in California

This content about Unlawful Death Lawsuit 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.

When you experience the death of a family member due to someone else’s actions, it is understandable that you would want the person at fault to be held accountable in court. Depending on the circumstances of the death, an unlawful death lawsuit could be filed.

Unfortunately, this process isn’t as easy as walking into a courtroom and stating that you believe you are entitled to compensation. There are strict procedures and legal elements that must be met before a party is deemed responsible for an unlawful death, such as preponderance of the evidence.

Although these terms can seem complex, a qualified attorney can help you bring a successful unlawful death lawsuit by proving all the required elements of the specific case at hand.

What your case must prove

To prove that a death was unlawful or wrongful, you must prove certain legal elements with facts. In California, you must have enough evidence to prove that the liable party is responsible for the death with a 51% probability. This is what is known as “preponderance of the evidence” in legalese. However, the elements you must prove also depend on how the wrongful death arose.

If the death was a result of negligence, as most wrongful deaths are, your unlawful death lawsuit must satisfy the following elements:

  • The party who is liable owed a certain duty of care to the victim
  • The party violated said duty of care in some way
  • The breach of duty led to the event and injuries that resulted in the death
  • The death caused you and other claimants losses
  • On the other hand, if the death was a result of intentional harm, you must prove that this was a willful act based on the following:
  • The person had an intent
  • The person had non-consensual contact with the decedent (such as using a weapon)
  • The contact resulted in the death

When the case involves a violent death, it can result in a manslaughter or homicide case, which is handled completely differently than an unlawful death lawsuit and requires a different burden of proof. An experienced attorney will know how to best handle your case.

Filing an unlawful death lawsuit in California

Another important element to consider when pursuing an unlawful death lawsuit is the statute of limitations, which is the amount of time you have to file in court. In California, there is a 2-year window from the date of death to file a claim, so finding a lawyer who knows which steps to take to preserve the legal rights of the claimants is of the essence.

Also, seeking compensation for the death of a loved one is a process that requires presenting substantial evidence, and this is where a lawyer will prove themselves to be invaluable.

In general, satisfying all the elements of an unlawful death lawsuit is complex, which is why you should rely on nothing less than an attorney who has experience with these types of cases in the State of California.

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 Unlawful Death Lawsuit 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.