California Wrongful Death Lawyers
When you lose a loved one because another person was careless or negligent, pursuing compensation for damages is well within your rights.
A wrongful death can lead to high medical bills, lost wages, and emotional pain and suffering. At the very least, a fair settlement can help you better shoulder those unexpected burdens.
Understand What Qualifies as Wrongful Death
Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between an accidental death and a wrongful death. If you are not sure whether the situation qualifies as wrongful, we can help.
Wrongful death is defined as any death that is caused by the carelessness, negligence, or misconduct of another person or entity. Essentially, if the tragedy could have been prevented, it is considered a wrongful death.
There are many different categories of wrongful deaths. Some of the more common ones include:
Any one of these scenarios could lead to an untimely death. If your loved one died because a caregiver, physician, or employer was careless, get in touch. Cutter Law P.C. has experience with all of the scenarios mentioned above. We can help you build a successful case based on facts and evidence.
Learn How to Build a Successful Wrongful Death Case
We may agree with you that the situation qualifies as a wrongful death. But without proof, there won’t be anything we can do about it. That’s why we recommend you call our office early on in the proceedings. We will help you establish evidence and document the facts of the case.
California has a strict liability doctrine, which means that you do not have to prove that the responsible party had any intent to cause harm. Instead, you must be able to show the following:
- That your loved one died
- That the death was avoidable and/or that the responsible party intended to cause harm
- That the death has caused you or your family members to suffer financial hardship
If you feel that you are not able to prove one or more of these points, give us a call. We can lend a professional eye to the case and help you determine whether wrongful death truly occurred.
Wrongful Death and the Statute of Limitations
Whenever you are filing a lawsuit, it’s important to consider the statute of limitations for the type of suit. If you do not file within the legal window of time, your claim will not be considered valid.
In California, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is between two and three years, depending on the particulars of the situation. Most often, you will have two years from the date of death to pursue compensation.
The statute of limitations is more complicated when it comes to medical malpractice. A victim of medical malpractice may not know immediately that the medical team was negligent. In those scenarios, you have three years from the date of harm or one year from the date that you knew (or should have known) about the harm.
If it has been more than two years, but you are just learning that the death was caused by negligence, please call. We can help you evaluate the situation to determine whether it qualifies for a longer statute of limitations.
The Types of Damages You Can Seek in a Wrongful Death Claim
Once you know whether the death qualifies as a wrongful death, you may next wonder how much you can expect from a settlement. The answer to that question will depend on the facts of the case. But here are a list of the types of damages you can sue for:
Economic damages are defined as verifiable losses you’ve incurred because of the wrongful death. These may include medical bills, lost income, lost benefits, funeral and burial costs, and more.
Non-economic damages can be harder to quantify but equally devastating. They may include loss of companionship, loss of guidance, loss of moral support, and more.
Your final settlement will take both types of damages into consideration. While financial remuneration cannot replace the loss of your loved one, it can help you to carry on.
How an Attorney Can Help
Even when your case is well supported by evidence, the process may take time. As you navigate the highs and lows of a lengthy legal process, an attorney can serve as invaluable support.
If you are already feeling overwhelmed and not up for the task, a wrongful death attorney will make all of the difference. A good lawyer will not only support you, he or she will also ensure that you receive every penny you are entitled to.
There is no limit to what a wrongful death attorney can do for you. But here is a general outline of the kinds of services you can ask of your lawyer:
- Investigate the circumstances of your loved one’s death
- Determine liability for the death
- Inform you of your legal rights
- File a lawsuit on your behalf
Remember, if you miss the deadline for filing a lawsuit, you forfeit your right to compensation. Your best chance of avoiding that kind of situation is to hire a knowledgeable and qualified lawyer.
Why Cutter Law, P.C. Is the Right Team for the Job
Cutter Law P.C. is home to a team of skilled wrongful death attorneys. Altogether, our firm has more than 130 years of combined legal experience. We are capable of representing clients in individual, group, and class action lawsuits. No matter the scope or circumstances of your case, we are willing and able to help.
Our firm is nationally recognized for the work we perform on behalf of our clients. Throughout the years, we have won more than $100 million for victims of wrongful injuries and deaths.
Because we know that a wrongful death can put you in a difficult financial situation, we offer free case evaluations. If you want to talk about the event and learn more about your legal options, simply give us a call. We will schedule a time to discuss the situation in greater detail. And we won’t leave until you feel good about the next best steps.
FAQs About Wrongful Death
No one plans or prepares for a wrongful death in the family. So when the worst happens, you may be left with a mountain of questions. If this is the first time you’ve ever had to think about a wrongful death claim, that’s okay. Our team has been there before and can walk you through the process from start to finish.
Below, we have outlined some of the frequently asked questions we get about wrongful death suits.
Not everyone can file a wrongful death suit on behalf of a loved one. In California, spouses, children, stepchildren, parents, and heirs can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
However, to do so, the filer must be able to prove that they have suffered damages as a result of the death. In some cases, even distant family members have been able to file a successful lawsuit.
In California, surviving family members can choose for themselves how the funds from a wrongful death settlement are distributed. Ideally, the family members will work together to decide who gets what.
If the family is unable to agree upon an arrangement, the issue will be taken to civil court for review. The courts will use factors like education, housing, and support to determine who has the greatest need and should receive the greater portion of the settlement.
The court will only allow one wrongful death lawsuit per deceased person. Ideally, the deceased person’s spouse will file on behalf of all the surviving family members. If there is no surviving spouse, the responsibility to file will fall on the children, with parents having the next right to file.
Keep in mind that the filer, or plaintiff, will have the primary responsibility of making legal decisions about the case. If that person is you, a skilled attorney from Cutter Law P.C. can help you make the best choices for everyone involved.
Generally speaking, wrongful death settlements are not taxable in the state of California. However, if you are awarded punitive damages, those sums may be subjected to taxes.
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Sacramento, CA 95864