California Wrongful Death Attorneys
When an individual dies as the result of someone else’s negligence, carelessness, recklessness or wrongdoing, a “wrongful death” is said to have occurred. If you have lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, it is important that you understand your legal rights and options. A California wrongful death lawyer can help you preserve the evidence, identify the defendants in the case and help determine what your case is worth. Although it seems straightforward, a wrongful death case can get complicated because there are usually several moving parts. Retaining the services of a skilled and knowledgeable California wrongful death attorney will help you not only expedite the proceedings, but avoid the pitfalls that could jeopardize or minimize the value of your claim.
Wrongful Death versus Murder
What is the difference between wrongful death and murder? Wrongful death lawsuits are a civil action. These are lawsuits brought forth by the deceased victim’s estate or family members, most often, immediate family members. The claimants attempt to prove that the defendant was responsible or “civilly liable” for the deceased person’s death as the result of a careless, deliberate or negligent act. The burden of proof is also different and lesser in civil lawsuits.
Murder or homicide cases on the other hand are criminal cases. The burden of proof in criminal cases is on the prosecution. The prosecutor must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the person committed the murder. It is important to remember that the wrongdoer will be punished and ordered to pay restitution in a murder case. But only a civil wrongful death claim can help compensate victims’ families monetarily for the losses sustained.
There may be many potential claimants in a wrongful death case. Under California Civil Code Section 377.60, the following persons may file a wrongful death claim:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren.
- Putative spouse, children of the putative spouse, stepchildren, or parents. “Putative spouse” means the “surviving spouse of a void or voidable marriage that is found by the court to have believed in good faith that the marriage to the decedent was valid.”
- A minor who resided in the decedent’s home for the 180 days before the person’s death and was dependent on the decedent for one-half or more of the minor’s support.
- Parents, grandparents, or other relatives who were financially dependent on the decedent.
The Potential Value of a Wrongful Death Claim
Sometimes, the value of a wrongful death claim is determined by the defendant’s liability insurance coverage or his or her assets. However, an experienced California wrongful death attorney can help victims’ families obtain maximum compensation by carefully examining the specific aspects of the case at hand. First, it may have to be determined if an estate should be created. When there are several individuals claiming compensation, a probate estate may be created. The wrongful death claim will then be brought in the name of the estate rather than the individual claimants.
Another important step in a wrongful death case is to establish the life expectancy of the decedent. Some of the factors that may be taken into consideration include the victim’s age, lifestyle, medical history and occupation. It can also be a challenge to determine how much financial support survivors lost as a result of their loved one’s death. This would require an assessment of the decedent’s employment and salary history, anticipated future wages including promotions, raises, etc.
Apart from these, there are also noneconomic damages that may be sought in a wrongful death case such as loss of love, companionship, society and comfort. Calculating these damages can be very tricky and requires a skillful and articulate attorney who can present the case convincingly to the jury.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
The experienced California wrongful death lawyers at Bisnar | Chase have more than 30 years of experience successfully handling complex wrongful death cases. We handle our cases not only with skill, but also with sensitivity and compassion. We understand what families are going through after a loved one’s death. We understand that no amount of money can bring back a beloved family member. But, we are here to help you through this difficult time and do everything in our power to help you get justice and fair compensation for your losses. Please call us at 1-800-561-4887 for a free consultation and more information regarding what we can do for you.
Immediately call an experienced and reputable Orange County Personal Injury Lawyer for a free consultation at 1-800-561-4887.
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