Walnut Creek Wrongful Death Lawyer
When someone is hurt due to another person’s negligence, the proper legal remedy is for the victim to file a personal injury lawsuit. But what happens when the victim is not simply injured but killed due to negligence? In that situation, California law allows certain family members to file a special type of personal injury claim known as a wrongful death lawsuit.
At Venardi Zurada, our skilled and caring Walnut Creek wrongful death lawyers have helped many families work through the process of holding those responsible for a loved one’s death accountable. While nobody is looking to profit off of a loved one’s death, a wrongful death claim can recover damages that can help a family navigate this difficult time. In addition, a wrongful death case can help provide closure by making sure that the negligent parties are not allowed to escape liability for their actions.
Who Can File a California Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death lawsuits are strictly governed by state law. This means that only certain individuals have legal standing to file such a claim. In most cases, this means the victim’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, or children have the right to file. In some cases, grandchildren, stepchildren, and other financial dependents may also have standing.
Who Is Liable for a Wrongful Death Claim?
As with any other personal injury case, any party whose negligence caused or contributed to the victim’s death may be named as a defendant in a wrongful death case. Note that this is not the same thing as criminal liability. Wrongful death only requires proof of a negligent or “wrongful” act, such as causing a car accident. Of course, a wrongful death claim can also cover intentional criminal acts, such as assault or even murder.
What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Claim?
The basic principle behind wrongful death damages is that the victim’s family is entitled to compensation for the “value of support” they would have reasonably received had the victim lived. This includes both measurable financial losses as well as intangible non-economic damages. The actual amount of damages will depend on the facts of a given case. For example, a jury must consider the victim’s estimated “life expectancy” when determining financial losses. And with respect to non-economic losses, such as the loss of the victim’s companionship and affection, there is no fixed statutory guideline; the jury is free to award any amount it considers reasonable.
How Long Does the Family Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
California law imposes a two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death cases. This means the family has two years from the date of the victim’s death to file a lawsuit. While that may seem like a long time, in practice it often takes months of preliminary investigation and research before a case is ready for court. That is why it is crucial to waste no time in speaking with an experienced Walnut Creek wrongful death lawyer about a potential claim.
If you need to speak with an attorney, call Venardi Zurada, LLP, today at 925-937-3900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.