Most California residents know that if another party injures them or causes an economic loss, they could have grounds for civil lawsuits against the responsible parties. However, when a victim dies from a personal injury, their surviving family members face a very different legal process for ensuring the at-fault party’s accountability. A wrongful death claim functionally replaces the personal injury claim a victim could have filed had they survived their experience. While there are many technical similarities between wrongful death claims and personal injury claims, there are several significant differences.
A Pasadena wrongful death attorney is the best resource to consult if you have recently lost a relative due to the actions of another party. The Law Offices of Carl D. Barnes have successfully represented many past clients in wrongful death cases, and we understand how difficult and tragic these situations are for surviving family members. However, in every case we accept, our goal is to provide the compassionate ongoing support and guidance a client needs to approach their case with peace of mind and confidence.
Even if fault for your loved one’s unexpected death seems perfectly clear, the actual legal process of holding the at-fault party accountable for the death is far more complex than many people realize. If you attempt to file a wrongful death claim unassisted by legal counsel, you risk losing your family’s ability to secure compensation for your loved one’s death. Money cannot replace your lost relative, but it can make your family’s transition to a new way of life a bit easier by accounting for the economic impact the death has caused in your family.
Working with an experienced Pasadena wrongful death attorney significantly improves your chances of success with your claim. A good attorney may uncover options for compensation that you did not initially expect. The Law Offices of Carl D. Barnes strives for maximum client recovery in every case we accept. The sudden loss of your loved one can impose financial problems on you and your family, and your pain and suffering deserve compensation as well. We can handle your case proceedings on your behalf so your family can mourn with some peace of mind knowing your case is in capable hands.
In California, only certain parties may file wrongful death claims. Eligibility to file a wrongful death lawsuit is typically dictated by the state’s law of intestate succession. The beneficiaries of the deceased are first in line with the right to file a wrongful death claim, starting with the surviving spouse of the deceased and their children. Next would be the deceased’s parents, siblings, and other immediate relatives. Finally, anyone who can prove a valid legal claim on the deceased’s estate, the personal representative of the deceased named in the deceased’s estate plan, or anyone who can demonstrate financial dependency on the deceased would have the right to file a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the death.
It’s important to remember that while a personal injury claim seeks compensation for the victim’s losses, a wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the family’s loss. Therefore, a wrongful death claim typically does not yield compensation for losses incurred by the deceased’s estate if they did not die immediately from their final illness or injury. However, these damages are claimable by filing a survival action in tandem with a wrongful death claim. As the name implies, a survival action seeks compensation for the personal injury damages the deceased could have claimed had they survived.
The damages available in wrongful death claims pertain to the family’s losses and typically include:
When the plaintiffs file a survival action with their wrongful death claim, California law allows them to seek:
Your Pasadena wrongful death attorney will be instrumental in calculating the full scope of losses you can include in your claim. Depending on how the defendant caused the death in question, they may also face liability for punitive damages at the judge’s discretion handling your case. Judges often assign punitive damages to punish egregious negligence or unlawful behavior that results in civil damages. Some defendants may also face criminal prosecution as well. For example, if a drunk driver caused a fatal accident that claimed your loved one’s life, they would face criminal charges for driving under the influence (DUI) and vehicular manslaughter and your civil claim.
When you choose the Law Offices of Carl D. Barnes to represent you in a wrongful death case, you and your family can expect compassionate and responsive legal counsel throughout every phase of your case. We can help you gather the evidence you may need to prove fault for your loved one’s death, such as physical evidence from a fatal accident, medical reports from their care team, and eyewitness accounts from those who saw the death occur. We may also consult with expert witnesses to help establish fault for the death and prove the full scope of the losses resulting from the death.
Whether you face a wrongful death claim or intend to file a wrongful death claim with an attached survival action, our team can provide the comprehensive legal counsel you need to approach your case with confidence. The sooner you start building your wrongful death case, the more likely you will succeed with it. Contact the Law Offices of Carl D. Barnes today and schedule your consultation with an experienced Pasadena wrongful death attorney.