Oakland Wrongful Death Lawyer
Losing a loved one in an accident is never easy. What begins as shock can become anger, grief, confusion, and fear. A lot can happen to you and your family when you lose a close relative. What should not happen is financial hardship because of your loved one’s death.
If your loved one’s passing causes you and other members of your family to suffer financially, you can seek compensation for these expenses through a wrongful death claim. In a wrongful death claim, you may allege that your loved one’s death was directly caused by another party’s negligence and provide evidence to support your claim. If your claim is successful, you and the deceased’s estate can recover compensation for the damages sought through the claim.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim After Losing a Loved One in an Accident
Any type of accident can result in a victim’s death. Some types of accident are more fatal than others. Even when a victim does not die immediately from injuries sustained in an accident, his or her loved ones may file a wrongful death claim if the victim’s death was directly caused by the accident. Accidents that can cause victims to die, either at the scene or later from his or her injuries, include:
- Car accidents;
- Truck accidents;
- Slips and falls;
- Dog bites;
- Pedestrian accidents;
- Bicycle accidents;
- Accidents involving electrical and fire hazards on private property;
- Accidents at hotels and tourist attractions; and
- Acts of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider somehow fails to uphold the standard of care for the patient’s condition and as a result, the patient suffers an injury or worsened health condition. A few examples of acts of medical malpractice that can lead to a patient’s death are:
- Delayed diagnoses;
- Incorrect diagnoses;
- Medication and anesthesia errors;
- Surgical objects left inside patients; and
- Postoperative infections caused by contaminated medical equipment or a non-sterile operating environment.
Who can Recover Compensation through a Wrongful Death Claim?
Who can recover compensation for damages related to a victim’s death depends on who comprised the victim’s immediate family. Typically, the victim’s surviving spouse or domestic partner and his or her children may receive compensation for damages through a wrongful death claim. If the individual died without a partner or children, any individual who would be entitled to receive his or her assets under California’s intestate succession law may file a wrongful death claim. In many cases, this is the victim’s parents or siblings.
Additionally, any of the following parties may recover compensation through a wrongful death claim if they can prove they were financially dependent on the victim:
- The victim’s parents;
- The victim’s stepchildren; and
- The victim’s putative spouse. A putative spouse is an individual who, despite not being legally married to the victim, lived with the victim and believed in good faith to be married to him or her.
Compensation for certain damages goes directly to the victim’s loved ones. Compensation for other damages is awarded to the victim’s estate.
Which Damages may be Covered by a Wrongful Death Claim?
Through a wrongful death claim, the victim’s estate may receive compensation for the following damages:
- Any medical bills the victim accrued between his or her accident and death;
- The victim’s funeral and burial expenses; and
- The victim’s lost income. This includes his or her projected future earnings over the course of his or her career.
The damages that are awarded directly to the victim’s loved ones include:
- Loss of the victim’s companionship and love;
- The loss of the victim’s financial contributions to his or her household, current and projected. This covers all forms of financial support, including the victim’s employment benefits; and
- The loss of the victim’s non-financial support of his or her household, such as his or her role in performing housework.
Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim with an Experienced Attorney
When you are grieving the loved one you lost in an accident, filing a wrongful death claim can be the last thing on your mind. But it is important that you are proactive and start working on your claim in a timely manner after his or her death because in California, the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits has a timeframe ranging from six months to two years. Please be advised that your potential case is governed by a statute of limitations (a limited time period in which you must begin a lawsuit). Statutes of limitations differ depending on the type of case involved. Some of these time periods may be as short as six months, while others can be as long as two years. We do not have enough information to identify which statute of limitations applies in your case. You should consult with a lawyer, the California Code of Civil Procedure, internet resources, and/or visit your law library to identify the applicable statute of limitations for your matter.
Your lawyer’s job is to make the wrongful death claim as painless as possible for you while pursuing a fair amount of compensation for your damages. He or she can help you obtain the evidence you need to support your claim by demonstrating that your loved one’s death could have been prevented if another party had taken greater care. This evidence can include:
- Photographs of the accident scene;
- Testimonies from witnesses to the accident;
- Documentation showing the care your loved one received after his or her accident;
- If the death was due to an act of medical malpractice, documentation showing the care he or she initially received and how it deviated from the standard of care for his or her condition;
- Documents from your loved one’s employer showing his or her current earnings rate and projected future earnings;
- Testimonies from your household members discussing the role your loved one played in maintaining your home; and
- Copies of your loved one’s funeral bills.
Work with an Experienced Oakland Wrongful Death Lawyer
Losing a loved one in an accident is devastating. When you feel paralyzed by grief and unsure about what to do regarding your financial damages, let an experienced wrongful death lawyer handle your claim for you. Our team at Dolan Law Firm can provide the driven, compassionate representation you need when you are processing a loved one’s death while pursuing compensation for your damages through a wrongful death claim.