A wrongful death lawyer is a type of personal injury attorney who helps surviving family members seek compensation for the death of a person resulting from a wrongful act. This could be due to an oversight, carelessness, negligence, and even a deliberate act that could have been prevented if the defendant had taken more care.
The death of a loved family member is one of the most agonizing things a person can experience. Typically when someone dies, people come forward offering to help make funeral arrangements and provide basic care to the grieving individuals. This level of support is standard because one’s ability to think clearly and perform tasks under such an emotional condition becomes too much to handle. In other words, performing the roles of basic life becomes difficult, and imagine trying to navigate the justice system under the same level of stress.
Why Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
People hire a wrongful death lawyer because they are entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering associated with a loss of life. In some cases the deceased person may have been a family’s financial provider, or the person may have operated a business that had multiple consequences on the lives of others. People also hire a wrongful death lawyer to seek compensation for their grief, and to seek justice.
In some cases a defendant is tried in a criminal court of law and is found innocent of charges. However, a wrongful death lawyer could help the plaintiff prove that the defendant is guilty of wrongful death charges. Therefore, it is important to call a Jacoby and Meyers wrongful death lawyer for a free consultation to get a clear understanding of your potential case and options. If someone’s negligence (a person or a business) contributed to an accident that resulted in the death of a family member, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim and receive a hefty settlement. While no amount of money will ever make up for the death of a loved one, receiving the maximum settlement and winning a judgement can grant a sense of justice and offer some peace of mind.
Examples of Wrongful Death Lawsuits Handled by Jacoby and Meyers
Wrongful death lawsuits are filed when an immediate family member (and sometimes a same-sex spouse or domestic partner) loses his or her life due to negligence by another person or a business. Some of the most common wrongful death claims that Jacoby and Meyers have represented their clients in, include the following situations:
- Car accidents
- Medical malpractice (patient death or death of unborn child)
- Criminal acts
- Contracting a disease or illness
- Public transportation (airplane, train, bus, boat, etc)
- Tourism / activities (scuba diving, rock climbing, skydiving, etc)
- Violence in the workplace or public area
- Excessive force by police or security professionals
- Unsafe conditions at fairs or amusement parks
- Occupational exposure to toxic substances or dangerous conditions
- Lack of care in supervised activities
- Dangerous conditions on public or private property
- Dangerous roads or defective construction
- Poorly performed maintenance or repairs
- Defective products
If you lost a loved one surrounding one of these conditions (or others) be sure to call Jacoby and Meyers so you can have a free consultation with our wrongful death lawyers and know exactly where you stand within your legal rights.
Who can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit first belongs to someone who has lost an immediate family member; spouses, children and parents. When these types of plaintiffs recover damages the recovery is called “loss of consortium.” In cases where there are no immediate family members, distant relatives like cousins, aunts and uncles, or grandparents can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Should I Hire a Wrongful Death California Lawyer if My Loved One Died Later from Injuries?
Next of kin can file a wrongful death lawsuit if their loved one succumbed to injuries or an illness resulting from an accident that happened in the past. A wrongful death California case has statute of limitations that are two years from the date of the deceased person’s passing. In other cases, a wrongful death case can be filed against a person or business for unsafe conditions that lead to a loss of life that happened years ahead. For example, if a person develops cancer and succumbs to the disease, and it can be established that the cancer developed from a weed killer the person was using for multiple years, the manufacturer could be liable in a wrongful death case.
In other cases, family have been able to seek wrongful death claims against an individual or organization when their loved one has committed suicide. For example, if someone was abused in the workplace, and as a result suffered from extreme depression that lead to suicide, the company or the abusive employee could be held liable and found guilty in a wrongful death lawsuit.
What is a Survival Action Lawsuit?
While a wrongful death lawsuit is something a surviving family member can file, a survival action lawsuit is one the deceased person could file if he or she had lived. In this case, recovered damages would go to the deceased’s person’s estate as opposed to the surviving family. In a survival action, the deceased person’s estate could recover damages directly related to the victim’s pain and suffering, as well as their lost earnings and medical bills. This is mirrored on what the deceased person could have recovered if they were living.
When possible, Jacoby and Meyers wrongful death lawyers work with families to combine a survival action and a wrongful death lawsuit. This is done to assure that the family is able to recover the full damages owed due to their loved one’s death.
Do you reside in California and there are suspicious or unjust circumstances around the loss of your loved one? Call our wrongful death lawyers at Jacoby and Meyers for a free consultation and gain a firm and accurate understanding of your rights, and your ability to seek justice.
Frequently Asked Questions about POTENTIAL WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS
What is the Difference between a Wrongful Death Cause of Action and a “Survival” Cause of Action?
A “survivor” cause of action has its legal authority in the Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.30. In essence, only the victim’s estate can bring a “survival” cause of action against a negligent party. The family or heirs do not have a direct cause of action against the negligent party or individual under this legal claim. The damages are different for both causes of action.
Punitive damages are not available for a wrongful death claim in California (with few exceptions- a felony homicide that resulted in a conviction). However, in a survival action, punitive damages are recoverable by the decedent’s estate (the victim who died).
What Types of Actions Warrant a Wrongful Death Claim?
Negligence, gross negligence, recklessness by one party that causes or leads to the wrongful death of an individual can give rise to such a claim.
What is the Statute of Limitations or Legal Deadline for Filing a Wrongful Death Action in Court?
There are three timelines to be concerned with when it comes to a wrongful death cause of action which must be fully proven to be successful in court.
- The general rule and deadline to file such a cause of action are within two years of the injury or death, according to California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1.
- If a medical malpractice claim is being presented against a doctor or health care provider, the time is calculated three years from the date of injury or one year after the individual discovered or should have reasonably discovered the injury. This is evaluated legally according to the “reasonable person” standard.
- If the claim is being filed against the government, the time is shortened and must be timely filed within six months of the injury or death.
Failure to comply with the statute of limitations can waive your claim. This is why time is of the essence. When speaking with an attorney, make sure you discuss the timeline and sequence of events leading up to the wrongful death of a loved one.