Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Sacramento Wrongful Death Attorneys
Losing a loved one, especially suddenly or unexpectedly, is certainly one of the most devastating events that a family can experience. Often, words cannot express the pain and sorrow felt by all those affected. If you’ve lost a loved one, it is important to find a way to cope with the loss that is unique to you. Sometimes, it is by remaining in close contact with family. Others may find solace in grieving alone or perhaps through therapy. Some get involved with a charitable organization or start one of their own. Whatever helps ease the pain of your loss, it is important you search for that answer. Additionally, if you suspect the loss occurred as a result of the wrongful acts of another, you should contact an experienced wrongful death attorney that can answer your questions and protect your legal rights and the rights of your lost loved one.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
When a person dies, and the death occurred because of another’s wrongful actions, whether intentional or negligent, the surviving family members may file a lawsuit against the at-fault parties for causing the wrongful death of their loved one. A wrongful death claim is a civil suit where the at-fault parties, if found liable for the death, may be required to pay money to those who are entitled to bring the wrongful death claim.
A wrongful death claim can stem from a number of wrongful acts by another. The most obvious example is when someone is murdered. Generally, after the criminal trial ends, the victim’s family may pursue a claim in civil court for wrongful death against the criminal defendant and any other wrongdoer that is responsible for the death.
The most common claims for wrongful death, however, arise from the intentional or negligent conduct of others that occur in our everyday lives. Some common causes of wrongful death include:
- Defectively designed or manufactured product
- Dangerous drugs
- Vehicle accident
- Pedestrian accident
- Construction accident
- Building or parcel of property maintained or constructed in a negligent manner
- Faulty workmanship
- Malpractice of a health care provider
Wrongful death cases result from all types of intentional or negligent acts surrounding any number of circumstances that lead to the wrongful death of another.
Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death?
Those who may make a claim for the death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another include:
- The deceased person’s surviving spouse or domestic partner, children, and grandchildren (if the deceased person’s children are not alive).
- The deceased person’s parents and stepchildren, if they were dependent on the deceased person at the time of death.
- A child who was dependent on the deceased person for one-half or more of the child’s support, if, at the time the person died, the child resided with the deceased person for at least 180 days prior to their death.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit for Wrongful Death?
There a several time limits that can apply to filing a claim for the wrongful death of a loved one depending on whom is responsible.
If the claim for wrongful death is against a government entity, the claim must be presented to the entity within six months from the date of death. The government entity is then given an opportunity to resolve the case with the claimants before a lawsuit may be filed. If the claim is denied by the government entity, then a lawsuit must be filed with the appropriate court within six months of the denial. If, however, the government entity fails to respond within 45 days, then the lawsuit may be filed within two years from the date of the death.
If the claim for wrongful death is against a health care provider for malpractice, a lawsuit must be filed within one year of the date of death.
In general, claims for wrongful death against all others must be filed within two years from the date of death.
What is Gained By Filing a Lawsuit?
That is a difficult question to answer. It goes without saying that nothing will ever replace the loss of a dear loved one. When a person dies due to the wrongful or negligent act(s) of others, however, the law allows the surviving family members to receive compensation in the form of money damages. The losses for which the surviving family members may be compensated with money generally fall into two categories.
The first includes:
- The financial support, if any, that the deceased would have contributed to the family during either the life expectancy that the deceased had before his or her death or the life expectancy of those persons bringing the lawsuit, whichever is shorter;
- The loss of gifts or benefits that the family would have expected to receive from the deceased;
- Funeral and burial expenses; and,
- The reasonable value of household services that the deceased would have provided.
The second area of compensation includes:
- The loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection and society;
- The loss of intimacy with a spouse; and,
- The loss of training and guidance.
Claims on Behalf of the Deceased.
In addition to the claim for wrongful death that may be brought by those persons listed above, a claim may be brought by the deceased person’s personal representative or successor for any claim the deceased person may have had at the time they died. For example, if a person was involved in a serious car accident due to the negligence of another and they succumbed to injuries sustained in the accident six months later, the family would not only have a claim against the at-fault party for causing the wrongful death of their loved one, they would also have a claim on behalf of their loved one against the at-fault party for negligence. The damages that may be recovered on this claim are any damages the deceased person would have been entitled to had they lived with the exception of pain, suffering or disfigurement.
If you have lost a loved one due to the wrongful acts of another, please contact our firm. Our team of experienced staff and wrongful death attorneys are here to help you with your loss by explaining and protecting your legal rights and the rights of your lost loved one.