Wrongful Death Attorney FAQ

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Quick Reference Guide:

Q. What damages get obtained in a wrongful death case?

A. In the state of California the law for wrongful death lawsuits, provide that damages can get recovered. So these will include economic and non-economic losses. The economic loss damages are for past present and future loss of financial support.

Also, this would have gotten provided by the deceased. But it can also include funeral, burial costs and the loss of household services. These damages are often dependent on the testimony of expert economists.

Use of Experts Usually Necessary to Prove Damages.

These damages are often reliant on the testimony of expert economists. Non-economic damages have their basis in the loss of a loved one’s amity. So this includes the denial of care, affection, moral support, love, guidance, society and mentoring. The non-economic damages have no fixed standard.

So in determining the amount of these damages, it depends on proof. Facts are different in every case. So too are the amounts of recovery.

Q. Wrongful death statute of limitations?

A. In the state of California the statutes of limitations can vary. Also, it will depend on upon the nature of the action. But the general statute of limitations for an injury death remains two years from the date of the death. However, in a medical malpractice case, the time limit can be as short as one year from the time of mortality. But it may also depend on the status of the plaintiff and defendants.

Most noteworthy are claims against government entities. In those cases, a government tort claim should get filed. And it must get done within an 180 day period. Also, this must get served before any lawsuit can get filed in court.

But there are exceptional circumstances where the statute of limitations may become extended.  Mostly, this will be if the injured person has a mental weakness or is a minor.

Also, the statute can be different. So depending on the liable party, experts recommend contacting tort lawyers soon as possible. Also, medical malpractice and particular claims can have a shorter period to file suit. So by communicating with a tort lawyer, they can explore all the potential avenues of the case. Therefore, they can determine the correct statute in your case.

Q. Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?

A. Code of Civil Procedure §377.60 outlines, who may bring a wrongful death claim. These parties include the surviving spouse of the decedent. And they also permit the domestic partner, children and children of pre-deceased children to file.

All people who were being supported with money have a case if they were the right family. These people include step-children and parents. But this typically applies if they died without a will.

Hence, it becomes possible in some cases for a minor who is not a natural child or step-child to get support. But they must have resided in the home of the deceased for six months before the death. And they must show they were dependent upon the decedent. But the dependence must have been for at least one-half or more of their financial support. So in that case, the victim has the right to bring a wrongful death claim.

The above video provides instruction on parties who may sue for wrongful death.

Domestic Partners

In this type of lawsuit, “domestic partner” means a person in a registered domestic partner relationship. But this must have been established within the requirements of the Family Code. Otherwise, one may not bring a wrongful death lawsuit unless under some other theory.

Q. Do settled wrongful death lawsuits become public?

A. The answer remains no; so far requirement no rule exists to make the settlement public. Also, both parties might agree it will remain confidential. However, in many cases, defendants will only request that.

This requires a contractual pledge to keeps the terms of the settlement secret. So this way, the amount of recovery with the party names, remains in confidence.

Plus there are always tax issues for plaintiff and defendant if this happens. Because of this, our law firm will never agree without the client’s consent.

Q. Where should I file my wrongful death lawsuit?

A. The wrongful death claim is a civil action seeking damages for a negligent death. So it must become filed where any of the defendants live. Or it may become lodged in the county where the fatal injury occurred.

The State Court where the surviving plaintiffs reside is not the forum considered. So if the liable party is a government entity, the case may get filed in the county seat.

Q. Should I lose, will I have to pay for the defenses costs and fees?

A. There is a law known as no “losers pays.” So this means that whether the case involves a settlement or a verdict, plaintiff and defendant are responsible for their own attorney’s fees.

Q. Do special rules apply in medical cases, in which a wrongful death got claimed?

A. California has particular statutes, which govern the prosecution of medical malpractice cases. The surviving heirs get awards limited to a non-economical maximum of $250,000. So this means damages, for loss of comfort, care, affection, society and support.

Hence, the heirs have rights to seek economic damages. Hence, they find the loss of financial assistance, the value of household services, and other costs. But there are specific procedural rules for prosecuting a medical malpractice wrongful death case.

Defendant must first be notified. Sending special notice letters achieves this end. Also, this follow the directives of Code of Civil Procedure §364. Of special interest, this letter of must get sent to defendants at least 90 days before filing the action. In other words plaintiff’s intention to initiate a claim must become known well in advance.

Thus, medical malpractice cases involving a wrongful death are very complicated. Also, they are expensive. Worse of all, they take huge amounts of time and legal expertise. So if you feel you have a medical wrongful death claim, contact us quickly. Doing so allows us time to analyze the potential recovery in your case.

Q. Death in the workplace who is liable?

A. Work comp normally would be the recovery vehicle. So if the death was due to someone other than the employer, the heirs may bring a claim.

So it could be a subcontractor, a co-worker, another person or a defective product maker. But it is crucial to conduct a timely inquiry. Noteworthy here, we will do this as soon as you retain us. Also, this lets us help determine if another party besides the employer bears fault.

Q. Are there special rules for lawsuits against the city or state?

A. There are special rules for cases against government entities. Also, these rules are according to the provisions of the Government Code. This code requires anyone bringing a lawsuit, must file a tort claim first. This rule applies whether it is the city, state, school district, water district or any government entity.

In the prosecution of wrongful death cases, against the government entity is complex. If you feel you have a claim against a government entity, it doesn’t end there. Your case may also be a political individual or party. So the legal expert you consult will need to be a specialist. And this person can properly evaluate your claim. In any case, this expert helps determine if a government claim should get filed.

Q. Do I need a lawyer to file a wrongful death case?

A. Wrongful death law is complex. Thus, potential plaintiffs should consult an attorney. Lawyers with experience protect the rights of survivors entitled to recovery. Legal representation is beneficial. Also, the legal wrongful death specialist will have extensive knowledge of statutes of limitations. Last, he or she will understand governmental tort law.

Q. What time should I contact a lawyer?

A. It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible, after the fatal incident. Evidence needs to get collected, and the event investigated, which deteriorate over time. Witness’s memories will surely fade over time. Thus, an early review permits witnesses interviews. Also, photographs should be taken. And evidence should also be gathered.

Time begins running on the date of the fatal event. As discussed, you have little time to move. Also, a lawsuit will get denied, if filed after time runs out.

Q. Can the party’s filing a wrongful death lawsuit have separate attorneys?

A. It is possible for the heirs to have different lawyers. Also, in some cases, this is necessary if the heirs are unfriendly toward each other. But if this occurs, the heirs should attempt to remain on speaking terms. This, it’s important they try to get along; otherwise, it may affect the value of the case.

Q. Who can provide the best legal help?

A. Ehline Law Firm specializes in wrongful death cases. Also, they have the highest standards in prosecuting cases on behalf of clients. So our lawyers are highly practiced litigators. Hence, they have represented clients in many wrongful death claims. These may involve dangerous drugs, medical negligence, vehicular negligence, premises claims.

But they also encompass government and general liability. Furthermore, we have years of experience in providing survivors and heirs with successful outcomes. Hence, these lawyers are uniquely qualified to protect the best interests of clients in wrongful death lawsuits.

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