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What You Should Know Before Filing for Wrongful Death

This content about wrongful death claims 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 is a claim that can be brought against a person (defendant) who is deemed liable of a death, whether because of negligence or intentional action. If the plaintiff can prove that the defendant is, in fact, responsible for the death, they can obtain money damages. You may be involved in a situation where you need legal assessment regarding wrongful death, in which case it is essential to acquire a general knowledge of the process ahead of you.

What Can Be Considered Wrongful Death?

A variety of accidental or intentional actions can be defined as wrongful death. The most common ones include accident fatalities, product liabilities, and medical malpractice.

  • Accident fatality: Motor vehicle accidents account for most of the wrongful death cases related to accident fatality. Among the causes, we can find another driver’s negligence, recklessness, criminal activity, or even a manufacturing defect. This type of lawsuit has a two-year statute of limitation (deadline), but it’s considerably shorter when a government office is involved in the incident.
  • Product liability: If a defective product was the cause of injury resulting in death, you can hold the manufacturer legally liable for the damage. This applies when the product had poor design, inadequate use warnings, or improper manufacturing. This type of lawsuit is called product liability claim and has a two-year statute of limitation as well.
  • Medical malpractice: if a doctor, nurse, or other medical staff has failed to provide the expected standard of care and subsequently caused death, they can be held liable in court by the family of the deceased. The statute of limitations is three years or one year from the moment the survivors identify the injury as the cause of death.

Who Can File for Wrongful Death in California?

Only a few people are eligible as plaintiffs to file for wrongful death, namely the spouse, parents or children of the deceased. Siblings, grandparents, a putative spouse or someone who can prove dependence to the deceased person can be eligible plaintiffs if there are no direct relatives. When it comes to the defendant (the accused), that can be not only an individual, but also a company or an institution.

How Can Evidence Be Met?

The plaintiff must meet the same burden of proof as the deceased person had they been able to file for the case. This includes proving duty of care and the breaching of it by the defendant. Depending on the type of wrongful death, this can take eyewitness testimony, physical evidence, records, and other resources as grounds for the wrongful death claim.

What Damages Can Be Obtained? 

Basically, what the family members will be looking for is compensation for the support they lost from the death of their loved one. This includes economic and non-economic losses that cover a reasonable time of the deceased person’s life expectancy or the plaintiff’s life expectancy (from the time of death). Some economic damages you can recover are financial support, loss of benefits, funeral and burial, and household services. Non-economic damages demand compensation for loss of companionship, affection, guidance, moral support, and sexual relations from the deceased person. The amount that can be recovered for each damage depends on evidence and common sense.

You need prompt assessment from experienced lawyers to get answers and decide on filing a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of your loved one; this will allow you to receive compensation for the painful loss.

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.