How Do You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?
If a person close to you loses their life due to another party’s negligence, you may qualify to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California and receive compensation for the untimely death of the person. If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, call McDonald Worley and schedule a free case review with one of our wrongful death attorneys in California.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit and Who Can File One?
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by a person close to the deceased such as his/her spouse or relative. It is used for holding the accused party accountable for both financial and emotional losses associated with such a tragedy.
The wrongful death claim usually involves negligence or purposeful actions on someone’s part that causes death. The most common cases are situations such as intentional killings, auto crashes, or even in the field of medical malpractice.
Step-by-Step Guide to Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Step 1: Determine Your Eligibility for Filing the Claim
A person who’s close to the deceased, such as the spouse, children, or domestic partners left behind, are all eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California. It is important to be aware that other parties may be entitled to such a claim, depending on your state’s laws. In California, grandchildren (when the children are also deceased), stepchildren or other minors who relied on the deceased for 50% or more of their financial support, or those who are entitled to the deceased’s property may all be eligible to file a wrongful death claim.
If you plan to file a wrongful death claim, you will also be required to abide by the statute of limitations in your state. That means that you will be required to file the claim within the prescribed period. In California, you have two years from the person’s untimely death to file the claim. While two years is common in most states, you should check with a local attorney to be sure.
For you to be eligible to file the claim, a conclusion has to be made that the person’s death resulted from another party’s negligence. Reckless driving or assault can easily result in a wrongful death claim, for example.
Step 2: Discuss the Matter With a Legal Representative
Discussing the matter with a legal representative is the first thing you need to do, particularly if you are unsure whether you are eligible to file the lawsuit. With the assistance of a lawyer experienced in wrongful death claims, you can determine whether or not you have a valid claim and start taking appropriate legal action.
Step 3: Your Legal Representative Will Investigate the Matter Further
Once the investigation of the wrongful death claim commences, your wrongful death attorney will play the critical role of collecting necessary evidence that will help in building a strong case against the accused party.
For this step, your attorney will work with law enforcement personnel and medical professionals that specialize in such cases. Your lawyer may also consult accident reconstruction experts to analyze the incident that led to the person’s death.
Step 4: Determining the Value of Your Claim
Once your attorney has gathered all details pertaining to your claim, they will be in a better position to determine the value of your case. The value of the case includes medical bills, funeral expenditures, as well as any other expenses the family incurs while attempting to settle the matter.
Step 5: Drafting the Case Properly Before Filing It
Once sufficient evidence has been gathered for your case, your attorney will then make an official filing with the court. The complaint will include the evidence that supports your claim, identify the accused party, and indicate the value of the claim, which is also what your team expects to receive as compensation.
Step 6: The Pre-Trial and Negotiation Process Proceeds
It is always advisable to have the matter settled at an early stage and ensure that it doesn’t go to court because this helps save both time and resources. Litigation, however, must take place before the trial commences.
Litigation involves coordinating with the defendant’s legal team to acquire the necessary information and context. Court motions can be filed at this stage, too, and your attorney will only be dealing with the lawyer of the accused directly.
Your attorney will have the chance to showcase the strong foundation of the case using the evidence collected. At this point, the defendant’s team will try preventing the matter from finding its way to court by offering your legal team a settlement. If the defendant’s team offers a low payment, your attorney can counter the matter and negotiate for better compensation.
Step 7: The Case Proceeds to Trial
If the accused party’s legal representative does not offer a fair settlement for compensation, your case might proceed to trial. If your attorney believes that you have a strong case, they may advise you to go to court. They may also advise going to trial if negotiation attempts are unsuccessful.
What Damages Are Included in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Once your attorney helps you file a wrongful death lawsuit, it is important to receive compensation for all the damages related to the loss of your loved one. Here are some of the damages included in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of companionship and emotional support
- Medical bills incurred by the victim before their untimely death
- The value of services that could have been contributed by the deceased
- Emotional pain and suffering endured for the loss of a loved one
For Help With a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California, Contact McDonald Worley
If you have lost somebody close to you due to another party’s negligence, you should consider getting in touch with us for a free consultation. Our compassionate attorneys can help you determine whether or not you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim and will fight to get justice on behalf of your loved one. Our law office also handles wrongful death cases in Texas.
To schedule a free case review, contact McDonald Worley today.