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Napa Wrongful Death

Napa Wrongful Death Lawyer

Losing a loved one unexpectedly is never easy. Still, when a death occurs due to another party’s negligence or intentional misconduct, this knowledge can make the death even more difficult for the family to accept, adding frustration to the tragic situation. If you recently lost a loved one in a car accident, an act of violence, or any other incident caused by another party’s actions, you may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim against them.

Representing Families in Napa, CA, Wrongful Death Claims

Napa Wrongful Death Lawyer

A successful wrongful death case cannot return your lost loved one to you, but it can provide you and your family with compensation that will make adjusting to your new reality easier. The team at Rush Injury Law has extensive professional experience handling a wide range of civil cases on behalf of our clients in Napa, CA, and we are ready to apply this experience to your case. We have successfully represented many wrongful death claims pertaining to various incidents and do everything we can to maximize our client’s recovery in every case we accept.

A wrongful death claim is a type of civil case, and it’s vital to have experienced legal counsel on your side if you intend to file such a claim in Napa, CA. The right attorney can dramatically improve your chances of success with the claim and help you maximize the total recovery you and your family receive from a winning case. They can also provide ongoing support and legal guidance during a painful time for you and your family, allowing you to approach your legal proceedings with peace of mind and confidence.

Why Should I Hire a Napa Wrongful Death Lawyer?

You might believe that if the fault for your loved one’s death is clear that you shouldn’t need to hire a lawyer to secure accountability for the death. However, even the most seemingly straightforward civil cases can pose significant challenges to the plaintiff and their family. You could encounter unexpected legal complications you did not expect and do not know how to address effectively.

Instead of attempting to manage the aftermath of the death and your court proceedings on your own all at once, have an experienced Napa wrongful death attorney handle your case so you and your family can mourn with some peace of mind. Your attorney can keep you updated on each phase of your case as it unfolds, assist you in uncovering all available compensation channels, and provide ongoing support as you approach different milestones in your case proceedings. It’s natural to be concerned about the potential cost of your attorneys’ fees when you must hire legal representation.

However, it’s vital to understand that you stand to lose more than you would save by not hiring a lawyer. Even if fault for the wrongful death in question is readily apparent to you, the actual process of holding the defendant accountable may not be, and you could overlook valuable avenues of recovery for you and your family. Ultimately, you are more likely to succeed with your case and more likely to maximize your case award when you have reliable legal counsel on your side.

When it comes to the cost of your representation, Rush Injury Law takes all cases on a contingency fee basis. This means our client pays nothing upfront for our representation and is not liable for any legal fees if we fail to secure compensation on their behalf. Once we win a client’s case, our fee is a percentage of the final case award, ensuring you receive appropriate compensation for your damages.

Wrongful Death Statutes in California

California’s statute of limitations or time limit for filing a wrongful death claim in the state is two years from the date of the death in question. This may sound like more than enough time to file your case, but the reality is that this window can close very quickly, and it is always best to obtain legal representation as soon as possible if you believe you have grounds for a wrongful death claim.

Additionally, California imposes additional restrictions regarding who may file a wrongful death claim. This law typically follows intestate succession laws. The victim’s surviving spouse is first in line with the right to file a wrongful death claim, followed by their children, parents, and other immediate family members. If the victim did not have any immediate family, the right to file a wrongful death claim could pass to siblings and other extended relatives, and finally to a personal representative named in the deceased’s estate. If there are no such parties, anyone who can prove a valid legal claim to the contents of the deceased’s estate or prove they were financially dependent on the deceased would have the right to file a wrongful death claim instead.

It is also important to remember that if your loved one dies unexpectedly, this untimely death may influence their estate plan in various ways. If you are unsure how a wrongful death will impact your loved one’s estate, you must consult an experienced Napa wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.

Wrongful Death Claims and Survival Actions

It’s important to remember that a wrongful death claim seeks compensation for losses sustained by the victim’s family, not the victim. Therefore, if the victim did not die immediately from their final injury and incurred economic losses between their final injury and their death, these damages could not be included in a wrongful death case. Instead, the family would need to list the damages sustained by the deceased’s estate in a survival action filed with their wrongful death claim.

If you can file a wrongful death claim in conjunction with a survival action, success with these civil claims can yield substantial compensation for you and your family. The survival action is essentially a functional replacement of the personal injury claim that the victim could have filed had they survived.

How Do Wrongful Deaths Happen?

Wrongful death can occur in many ways. However, some of the most commonly reported causes of wrongful deaths in California are:

  • Car accidents. If a negligent driver caused the death of your loved one, the at-fault driver’s auto insurance might only offer minimal repayment of the resulting losses. However, a wrongful death claim can hold the at-fault driver accountable for the full scope of losses you and your family experienced because of their actions.
  • Premises liability. Property owners must address safety hazards on their properties promptly to prevent injuries to lawful guests and visitors. If your loved one died due to a property owner’s negligence, you likely have grounds for a wrongful death claim under California’s premises liability laws.
  • Dog attacks. California enforces strict liability on dog owners whose pets injure others. If your loved one died from a dog attack, the dog owner is liable for the wrongful death and all associated damages.
  • Medical malpractice. If negligent medical care led to your loved one’s death, the medical professional who caused the death could be liable for wrongful death. Filing a wrongful death claim for medical malpractice is very different from filing most other types of wrongful death actions. Therefore, you need an attorney who has experience handling this problematic type of case.
  • Drunk driving. While this technically falls under the purview of car accidents, driving under the influence (DUI) cases are especially complex because the defendant faces criminal prosecution and a civil wrongful death claim from the victim’s family. In addition, when drunk driving causes a fatal accident, the responsible driver could face criminal charges for vehicular manslaughter and DUI.
  • Interpersonal violence. If a person dies in a fight, a violent encounter with another person, or as a result of an armed robbery or intentional homicide, their surviving family can file a wrongful death action, and the state will pursue criminal charges against the defendant.

In whatever way the wrongful death in question occurred, your Napa wrongful death lawyer will assist you in gathering the evidence you need to prove liability for the death. This may include vehicle computer data from the vehicles involved in a fatal accident, traffic camera footage that captured a fatal incident, security camera footage from inside of a private property, and eyewitness statements. Some cases may also require input from relevant expert witnesses. For example, accident reconstruction experts, medical professionals, and other experts can play important roles in complex wrongful death claims.

Damages Available in California Wrongful Death Claims

When you file a wrongful death case in Napa, CA, your attorney will help you calculate all the damages you can include in the claim. The injuries typically available in a wrongful death case include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses for the deceased.
  • The lost value of household services the deceased provided to their family.
  • Pain and suffering compensation for the family’s loss of affection, care, guidance, and comfort provided by the deceased.
  • Lost financial support the deceased provided to their family, including lost income for the future that the deceased reasonably could have expected to earn had they survived.

A survival action filed in tandem with a wrongful death claim can further enhance the family’s recovery, allowing them to potentially secure compensation for damages sustained by the deceased’s estate. If time passes between the deceased’s final injury and their death, the survival action can seek:

  • Compensation for medical expenses incurred during treatment of the deceased’s final injury.
  • Compensation for lost wages incurred by the deceased for the time between their final injury and their death.
  • Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased between their final injury and their death.

Some plaintiffs may receive additional compensation in the form of punitive damages. As the name implies, punitive damages do not aim to repay a loss but rather to punish a defendant. The amount paid in punitive damages typically reflects the overall financial status of the defendant and the severity of their actions. Punitive damages are typically considered when a defendant caused a wrongful death through egregious negligence or criminal action.

Proving Fault for a Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death Lawyer

Your Napa wrongful death lawyer will assist you in gathering whatever evidence and testimony you may require for establishing liability for your loved one’s wrongful death. In a wrongful death case, the plaintiff must identify the party they believe is responsible for causing the death in question, and they must provide unambiguous evidence of the full amount of economic damages resulting from the death.

The plaintiff must then prove that the defendant breached a duty of care in some manner that directly resulted in the wrongful death. This process will differ in the specifics from case to case, and an experienced Napa wrongful death attorney is the ideal asset for you to have before approaching your case. The sooner you connect with the right attorney, the more likely you and your family are to succeed with the claim.

It is important to remember that California enforces a pure comparative negligence law. This law states that if a plaintiff bears any partial fault for causing the damages listed in a civil claim, the plaintiff loses a percentage of the total case award equal to their percentage of fault for causing the damages in question. So, for example, if a case has a total potential value of $500,000, but the deceased is found to have been 10% at fault for causing the incident in question, the case award would be reduced by 10% to reflect their comparative fault, resulting in a net award of $450,000 instead.

Whether you are unsure how to calculate your claimable damages or have concerns about comparative negligence coming into play in your case, the right attorney is a tremendous asset to help you prevail, no matter what your wrongful death case may entail. Rush Injury Law has extensive professional experience handling complex civil cases on behalf of clients in the Napa, CA, area, and we’re ready to leverage this experience on your behalf. In addition, if you believe you have grounds for a wrongful death case, we can help. Contact Rush Injury Law today to schedule a consultation with an experienced and compassionate Napa wrongful death lawyer.

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