If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent or intentional actions of another person or entity in California, you may have the option to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. Another cause of action may include a survival action, which is the lawsuit that the deceased could have brought had he or she lived. Our wrongful death attorneys in California specialize in handling these types of cases in and throughout the state and have a history of successful results.
We understand that this is a difficult and emotional experience and offer support and guidance throughout the legal process in California. Our team of experienced attorneys at May Jungᴸᴸᴾ will assist you in understanding your rights, gathering evidence to support your claim, negotiating with the responsible party or their insurance company to try to reach a settlement, and going to trial, if necessary.
Legal Process for Pursuing a Wrongful Death Case in California
In California, a wrongful death case is a civil lawsuit brought by the surviving family members of a person who has died due to the negligent or intentional actions of another person or entity. The legal process for pursuing a wrongful death case in California generally involves the following steps:
- Filing a complaint: The plaintiff (usually the surviving spouse, children, or other close family members of the deceased person) files a complaint in court outlining the facts of the case and the damages being sought.
- Discovery: Both the plaintiff and the defendant exchange information and gather evidence related to the case.
- Pre-trial motions: The parties may file motions to dismiss the case or to exclude certain evidence from being presented at trial.
- Settlement negotiations: The parties may try to reach a settlement outside of court to avoid the time and expense of a trial.
- Trial: If the case is not settled, it will proceed to trial, where the plaintiff must prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence.
- Appeal: If either party is unhappy with the outcome of the trial, they may appeal the decision to a higher court.
Types of Damages That May Be Awarded in a Wrongful Death Case in California
In California, damages in a wrongful death case may include medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, lost income and benefits, and loss of companionship and support. Pain and suffering damages may also be available if the deceased person experienced physical or emotional pain before their death.
Damages Not Available in a Wrongful Death Case in California
In California, punitive damages are not available in a wrongful death case but may be available for survival action. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and are not allowed in wrongful death cases.
Determining Liability in a Wrongful Death Case
In a wrongful death case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligent or intentional actions caused the death of the deceased person. This may involve demonstrating that the defendant had a duty to act in a certain way, that they breached this duty, and that their breach caused the death.
Strategies for Negotiating a Settlement in a Wrongful Death Case
In many cases, it may be possible to reach a settlement in a wrongful death case before the case goes to trial. The plaintiff and the defendant (or their insurance companies) may negotiate a settlement agreement that resolves the case without the need for a trial.
In order to negotiate a settlement, the plaintiff will generally need to present evidence of the damages they have suffered, including documentation of medical expenses, lost income, and other damages. The defendant will typically counter with an offer, and the parties will continue to negotiate until they reach an agreement or decide that a settlement is not possible.
Role of Surviving Family Members in a Wrongful Death Case
In California, the surviving spouse, children, other close family members of the deceased person, or the personal representative of the deceased’s estate are generally the ones who bring a wrongful death case. In a survival action, the case is filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. These individuals are known as the plaintiffs in the case. The plaintiffs are responsible for presenting evidence to support their claim and for proving the elements of their case at trial.
Statute of Limitations for Bringing a Wrongful Death Case in California
In California, the statute of limitations for bringing a wrongful death case is generally two years from the date of the person’s death. This means that the plaintiff must file their complaint within two years of the death, or they will likely be barred from pursuing their claim. In a survival action, the estate has two years from the date of the injury, or six months after the death, whichever comes later.
Impact of a Criminal Case on a Wrongful Death Case
If a criminal case is ongoing in connection with the death of a person, it is possible that a wrongful death case may still be brought. However, the outcome of the criminal case may have an impact on the wrongful death case.
For example, if the defendant is found guilty in a criminal case, this may be used as evidence in a wrongful death case. However, the burden of proof is higher in a criminal case (beyond a reasonable doubt) than in a civil case (preponderance of the evidence), so the outcome of the criminal case does not necessarily determine the outcome of the wrongful death case.
Role of Expert Witnesses in a Wrongful Death Case in California
Expert witnesses may be called to testify in a wrongful death case in California in order to provide specialized knowledge or expertise related to the case. Expert witnesses may be called to testify about the cause of the deceased person’s death, the damages suffered by the plaintiff, and other relevant issues. Expert witness testimony can be an important factor in a wrongful death case, as it can help the plaintiff prove their case and support their damages claims.
Tips for Choosing the Right Wrongful Death Attorneys in California
When choosing a wrongful death attorney in California, it is important to consider the following factors:
- Experience: Look for an attorney who has experience handling wrongful death cases in California and who has a track record of successful outcomes.
- Reputation: Choose an attorney who has a good reputation within the legal community and among their clients.
- Availability: Make sure that the attorney you choose has the time and resources to devote to your case.
- Communication: Choose an attorney who is responsive and who communicates effectively with you throughout the legal process.
- Fees: Consider the attorney’s fees and whether they offer a free initial consultation.
How A California Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
Our wrongful death attorneys in California are dedicated to helping surviving family members seek justice and compensation after the loss of a loved one. Here are a few ways that our attorneys can help:
- Understanding your rights: Our attorneys can help you understand your rights and options in a wrongful death case and explain the legal process to you in plain language.
- Gathering and presenting evidence: Our attorneys can work with you to gather and present evidence to support your claim, including medical records, witness testimony, and other relevant documentation.
- Negotiating with the other party: Our attorneys are skilled at negotiating with the other party or their insurance company to try to reach a settlement that is fair and reasonable.
- Representing you at trial: If your case goes to trial, our attorneys are experienced litigators who will advocate for your rights and interests in court.
- Handling all legal proceedings: Our attorneys will handle all aspects of your wrongful death case, including filing paperwork, communicating with the other party and their attorneys, and representing you in court. This can allow you to focus on grieving and healing during this difficult time.
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent or intentional actions of another person or entity in California, we encourage you to contact May Jungᴸᴸᴾ to speak with one of our certified wrongful death attorneys in California. We are here to help you seek justice and hold the responsible party accountable.
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At May Jungᴸᴸᴾ, our California wrongful death attorneys understand the gravity and complexity of wrongful death cases. We are dedicated to fighting for your rights and recovering the compensation you are entitled to.
We offer free initial consultations, so you can discuss your case with a knowledgeable attorney and learn more about your legal options. Schedule your free consultation today to get started.