Suffering the loss of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing is one of the most wrenching and devastating experiences a family can face. In the aftermath of such an event, you may have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim against the party or parties responsible for your loved one’s demise.
At Chandler Law, our Fresno wrongful death attorneys can help you and other surviving family members investigate the accident, incident, or other scenarios that cause your loved one’s death. We can then determine whether you have sufficient grounds for a valid wrongful death lawsuit against those responsible, whether it is a person, persons, business or corporation, or even a government entity.
As a personal injury lawyer in Fresno, our team has the option to bring two distinct claims. One is a “survival action,” which is brought on behalf of the deceased by his or her personal representative seeking compensation for the injuries the victim suffered.
The other is a California wrongful death claim brought on behalf of the surviving family members who suffered harm as a result of the loss of the victim.
Understanding the Legal Process in a Wrongful Death Case
Pursuing a wrongful death claim can provide some level of justice and financial support for the surviving family members. At Chandler Law, our Fresno wrongful death attorney is dedicated to fighting for families in Fresno, Madera County, Kern County, and Tulare County. We understand the complexities of wrongful death cases in California and are here to guide you through the legal process.
When pursuing a wrongful death claim, it is important to understand the legal steps involved:
- Investigation: Our experienced legal team will conduct a thorough investigation to gather evidence and determine liability. This may involve collecting accident reports, interviewing witnesses, and consulting with experts.
- Filing a Lawsuit: Once we have gathered sufficient evidence, we will file a wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf. This initiates the legal process and allows us to begin seeking justice for your loved one.
- Discovery: During the discovery phase, both parties exchange relevant information and evidence. This may include written interrogatories, depositions, and document requests.
- Negotiation and Settlement: In many cases, a settlement can be reached before going to trial. Our skilled negotiators will work tirelessly to secure a fair settlement that compensates you for your loss.
- Trial: If a settlement cannot be reached, we are fully prepared to take your case to trial. Our attorneys have extensive trial experience and will vigorously advocate for your rights in court.
- Compensation: If successful, you may be entitled to compensation for various damages, including medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of income, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering.
During this challenging time, it is crucial to have a compassionate and knowledgeable wrongful death attorney by your side. Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us help you seek justice for your loved one.
What is a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death claim is a legal action brought against a person or entity whose negligent, careless, or intentional actions result in the untimely death of another individual.
What are the damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death case?
Damages that may be recovered in a wrongful death case include medical and funeral expenses, lost wages and financial support, loss of companionship and guidance, pain and suffering of the deceased prior to their passing, as well as punitive damages.
Who can bring forth a wrongful death lawsuit?
In most states including California, only certain family members such as spouses and children may bring forth a wrongful death lawsuit. In some cases, parents or siblings may also have standing to file suit depending on the circumstances.
Are there time limits for filing a wrongful death claim?
Yes. Generally speaking, you must file your claim within two years from the date your loved one passed away. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations.
How long does it take to resolve a Fresno CA wrongful death case?
The length of time it will take to resolve your case depends on several factors such as complexity of evidence gathering or negotiation with insurance companies. Your attorney can provide you with an estimated timeline for resolving your case after they assess all relevant information.
Per California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60, a wrongful death claim can be made by the following family members or their personal representatives:
- A surviving spouse or domestic partner
- Surviving children
- Surviving grandchildren when the decedent’s children are also deceased
- Stepchildren or other minors who depended on the decedent for a minimum of 50 percent of their financial support
These claims may be brought based on unintentional and intentional acts. These acts can include motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, slip and fall incidents, assault and battery, elder neglect or abuse, manslaughter, murder, or the abuse/neglect of a child.
Damages in Wrongful Death
Damages in a wrongful death claim can include both “economic” and “non-economic” damages. Economic damages are those associated with financial losses, such as funeral and burial expenses, financial support such as lost wages and future lost wages or other benefits, and the value of the household services the decedent would have provided if he/she had lived. These are based on the present value and not speculation. These are, however, not exact, and are often affected by the decedent’s life expectancy and anticipated work capability.
Non-economic are those damages without a tangible monetary number, such as the loss of companionship, affection, protection, emotional support, guidance, training, and sexual relations. These are also difficult to quantify, which is why you need to work with a trusted attorney. These damages are generally affected by the quality of the relationships between the decedent and his or her spouse and family members.
Are there damage caps in California?
Effective January 1, 2023, a cap of $500,000 has been imposed on non-economic damages specifically in fatal medical malpractice claims in California. This cap restricts the amount of compensation that a victim can receive for their losses, even if their injuries are severe and warrant greater compensation. However, it's important to note that, in general, personal injury cases in California do not have damage caps.
Personal injury cases in California, such as those resulting from car accidents, assault and battery, slip and fall incidents, product defects, or dog bites, do not have damage caps. This means that victims in these cases are entitled to receive full and fair compensation for their injuries.
It is worth mentioning that medical malpractice claims are an exception to this rule. California lawmakers have specifically targeted these lawsuits by implementing a cap on damages. This cap is a result of the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA).
While damage caps may limit compensation in certain cases, it is crucial to seek legal counsel to fully understand the specific details and nuances of your personal injury case. An experienced attorney can guide you through the legal process and help you pursue the compensation you deserve.
Survival Actions in California
These actions compensate for the harm done to the actual victim. They are brought by the decedent’s personal representative for losses such as those connected with the injury that the person endured, even if for a short period of time before death. These are complicated claims that our attorney can advise you of pertaining to your loved one’s death.