The unexpected and sudden loss of a loved one is a tragic event, but when your family has lost a loved one because of the negligence of another party, anger and uncertainty can compound your grief and pose significant financial strain on your family. At The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC, we understand how devastating a wrongful death can be for any family and provide comprehensive legal counsel to those who decide to pursue legal recourse against those responsible for causing such deaths.
If you have lost a loved one in a car accident, in a defective product accident, or because of medical negligence, you need a legal team you can trust to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. A wrongful death claim can help you and your family recover the financial losses resulting from the death, and while monetary compensation can never replace a lost loved one, the economic relief you and your family receive could make the grieving process a bit easier and help you transition more smoothly to a new reality.
Legal Representation Is Essential for Wrongful Death Claims
A wrongful death claim is functionally similar to a personal injury claim in many ways, but state law imposes strict requirements for filing a wrongful death claim, including who may file such claims and the types of compensation they may secure if they succeed with them. Any type of civil claim has the potential to escalate into a complex legal battle, but wrongful death claims typically involve a significant emotional factor that makes them much harder for plaintiffs to handle. If you have recently lost a loved one due to another party’s negligence, the legal counsel you receive from an experienced El Dorado Hills wrongful death attorney can be invaluable, allowing you and your loved ones to mourn with peace of mind knowing your legal affairs are in capable and trustworthy hands.
Hiring an El Dorado Hills wrongful death attorney also provides substantial practical benefits, namely the security of knowing that your case will not be jeopardized by procedural errors. The civil court system of California upholds many filing requirements, and the average person will have a hard time navigating these requirements successfully without the help of an attorney. It’s possible to have a wrongful death claim dismissed on procedural grounds if you make a mistake with your court filings or miss a filing deadline. Your El Dorado Hills wrongful death lawyer will ensure your case does not experience such snags and fulfill your procedural obligations on your behalf.
How to Prove Fault in Your Wrongful Death Claim
Success in your wrongful death claim requires meeting a few standard requirements:
- You and your attorney must identify the party or parties responsible for causing the death in question.
- You must prove how the defendant’s behavior breached their duty of care for the given situation. For example, if the wrongful death happened in a drunk driving accident, proving the defendant was intoxicated behind the wheel would establish a breached duty of care.
- You must show the court that the death resulted from this breached duty of care and would not have occurred but for this breached duty of care.
- You and your attorney must provide a complete and accurate accounting of all the damages resulting from the defendant’s negligence.
If you and your attorney can successfully establish these factors, it’s possible to secure various types of compensation from the defendant depending on how the wrongful death in question occurred.
How Do Wrongful Deaths Happen?
A wrongful death is any death caused by negligence. Some of the most common causes of wrongful death claims in the United States include:
- Motor vehicle accidents. Car accidents continue to be a leading cause of accidental deaths and injuries throughout the US. When another driver’s negligence causes the death of a loved one, you have the right to file a wrongful death claim against them.
- Medical malpractice. Medical negligence is one of the leading causes of wrongful deaths in the US. Surgical errors, anesthesia errors, medication errors, and misdiagnosis are just a few examples of medical negligence that can have fatal results. When a medical professional fails to uphold the standard of care your loved one requires in a medical situation, they are responsible for the death and the economic losses it causes.
- Defective products. Product manufacturers must ensure the products they release to consumers contain no defects and pose no extraordinary risks through normal intended use. If a manufacturer fails to include proper instructions and safety warnings with a product or releases a product with a dangerous defect, the manufacturer could face liability for a resulting death under product liability law.
- Violence. Unfortunately, some people suffer fatal injuries from interpersonal violence. If an individual kills another person through the commission of a crime, such as a robbery or an assault, they are not only liable for the wrongful death but will also face criminal prosecution as well.
- Premises liability. Property owners have a duty of care to ensure their properties are safe for lawful visitors. If your loved one died on someone’s property because of an issue they should have reasonably addressed, you can file a wrongful death claim against the property owner under premises liability laws.
These are only a few examples of the common causes of wrongful death. Ultimately, any situation in which one party’s negligence or intentionally harmful conduct results in a death could form grounds for a wrongful death claim.
California Statutes for Wrongful Death Claims
Every state upholds unique wrongful death statutes. If you plan to pursue a wrongful death claim in El Dorado Hills, it is essential to understand California’s wrongful death statutes and how they apply to your claim. The first step is determining eligibility to file a wrongful death claim. California allows a decedent’s surviving spouse, child, or parent to have priority when it comes to filing a wrongful death claim. Depending on what family the decedent has, any beneficiary who would have a valid claim to the decedent’s property through California’s intestate succession laws is potentially eligible to file a wrongful death claim.
California state law also outlines the damages a wrongful death claimant can include in their suit:
- The wrongful death plaintiff can claim medical expenses incurred from treating the decedent’s final injury or illness.
- A wrongful death claim can also include reasonable funeral and burial costs.
- The family of the deceased can claim lost future income the deceased would have expected to earn in the future had they survived.
- The surviving family of a wrongful death victim can receive compensation for the lost financial support the deceased provided.
- The family can also receive compensation for their loss of support, companionship, affection, and other noneconomic damages resulting from the wrongful death.
One caveat that is vital to remember in wrongful death claims related to medical malpractice is the state cap on pain and suffering damages. California state law limits noneconomic damages for pain and suffering in medical malpractice claims to $250,000.
What to Expect in an El Dorado Hills Wrongful Death Claim
Pursuing a wrongful death claim in California is much easier when you have reliable legal representation from an experienced El Dorado Hills wrongful death attorney. Your legal team will help you account for all the losses resulting from your loved one’s death and assist you in establishing liability for the death.
Some wrongful death claims are more straightforward than others. There is no guarantee that the defendant named in your claim will accept liability for the death, and they may deny liability, contest the damages sought by the plaintiff, or even claim comparative negligence to avoid liability for wrongful death. The attorneys at The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC can provide a full range of professional legal services to help you overcome these situations.
Depending on the nature of your claim, we may consult with various professionals and experts to provide in-depth analysis of the more complex aspects of your claim. For example, if your wrongful death claim is related to a car accident and the defendant contests their liability, we may consult an accident reconstruction expert to help us more fully assert the defendant’s liability. If the wrongful death resulted from medical malpractice, we may consult a medical expert who can attest as to whether the defendant adhered to the appropriate standard of care for the situation in question.