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When one party’s actions lead to another party’s injury or economic loss, the injured party has the right to file a civil claim against the party responsible for their damages. However, if one party’s actions cause the death of a person, the deceased’s surviving loved ones would need to file a wrongful death claim to hold the responsible party accountable for the death. Wrongful death claims are very similar to personal injury claims in many ways, but there are several key differences that all potential claimants should understand.
Rush Injury Law knows how devastating it can be for any family to suddenly lose a loved one. We also know the frustration and uncertainty that arises when the family realizes their loved one’s death results from another party’s negligence. Suppose you believe you have grounds for a wrongful death claim in Santa Rosa in response to your relative’s sudden death. In that case, we can provide the compassionate legal counsel you will need to navigate this arduous process with confidence.
Attempting to handle any civil claim without legal representation is inherently risky, especially for complex cases like wrongful death claims. For example, suppose you were to try and manage your wrongful death claim on your own. In that case, you would not only need to meet strict procedural requirements with the court but also manage the aftermath of the death and its effects on your family, such as the loss of the financial support the deceased provided and the emotional toll of losing your loved one unexpectedly.
Your Santa Rosa wrongful death lawyer can provide the guidance and support you need during this challenging time. Instead of attempting to handle the procedural requirements of your case on your own, you and your loved ones can have peace of mind knowing your claim is in capable and trustworthy hands. A good Santa Rosa wrongful death attorney will help you determine liability for your loved one’s death, assist you in calculating your claimable damages, and guide you through every phase of your case. They can also help you address the unique details of your case you may not know how to deal with on your own.
Success with a wrongful death claim requires identifying the party or parties responsible for causing the death and then proving the defendant was negligent in some way that directly caused the death. Essentially, the plaintiff in a wrongful death claim must prove the death in question would not have happened but for the defendant’s actions. This typically requires proving negligence or that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care in the situation that led up to the death. A wrongful death claim may also tie into a criminal case against the defendant prosecuted by the state. In the event the defendant caused the death in question through an illegal act or an intentional act of violence, the defendant would likely face criminal prosecution in addition to civil liability for wrongful death.
Wrongful deaths can occur for many reasons and from many situations, including:
These are only a few examples of how wrongful deaths may occur in the Santa Rosa, CA, area. The determining factor as to whether you have grounds for a wrongful death action is whether the death could have been prevented with reasonable care.
California enforces strict rules when it comes to the right to file a wrongful death claim. Generally, the state follows the law of intestate succession, meaning that the deceased’s immediate beneficiaries have the primary right to file wrongful death claims. Therefore, the deceased’s spouse is the first in line to file a wrongful death claim in California. If they did not have a spouse, their children would be next in line for filing a wrongful death claim. Next are siblings and extended relatives, followed by other beneficiaries of the estate or anyone who can prove they were financially dependent on the deceased.
A wrongful death claim seeks to compensate the deceased’s surviving family for their losses resulting from the death. Depending on how a wrongful death occurred and the financial impact of the death on the deceased’s family, a wrongful death claim can yield significant compensation for the plaintiffs. The damages available in a Santa Rosa wrongful death claim can include:
Money cannot replace your lost loved one, but it can make adjusting to your new lifestyle without them a bit easier, and it can provide peace of mind knowing that the party responsible for the death has been held accountable for their actions. However, you may wonder about additional damages your loved ones incurred before their death. If there was any length of time between the defendant’s wrongful act and the death of your loved one, the deceased might have incurred damages that are typically unavailable in a wrongful death claim. Your family would need to file a separate survival action to recover these damages.
While a wrongful death claim serves to compensate the deceased’s family members for their loss, a survival action pertains to the damages the deceased’s estate incurred due to the defendant’s wrongful act. Therefore, when death does not occur immediately from a defendant’s wrongful act, the family can file a survival action to recover damages to the deceased’s estate. They may file the survival action separately from their wrongful death claim or combine both legal actions into a single sizeable civil claim.
Survival actions can compensate for medical expenses for the treatment of the deceased’s final injury, property damage caused by the defendant’s wrongful act, and lost income for the time between the wrongful act and the death in question. The survival action cannot, however, provide compensation for the deceased’s pain and suffering. Alternatively, a survival action can yield punitive damages depending on the severity of the defendant’s wrongful act and the level of suffering the deceased experienced before their death.
Experiencing a sudden death in the family due to another party’s negligence or intentionally harmful act can create a potent mix of despair, frustration, and uncertainty for the deceased’s surviving loved ones. A wrongful death claim is one of the best available legal options for holding the responsible party accountable for the death of a loved one, and the compensation the family can obtain may allow them to recover from their loss with peace of mind and financial security for the future.
Rush Injury Law has years of experience guiding clients in the Santa Rosa, CA, area through a wide range of complex civil claims, including wrongful death claims that involve substantial damages and tragic details. The compensation you receive from a successful wrongful death claim can help you and your family adjust to your new circumstances with peace of mind and hold the defendant accountable for their wrongful act. In addition, we can provide the legal representation you need to successfully navigate the difficult wrongful death claim process. If you are ready to discuss your options for legal recourse after losing a loved one in Santa Rosa, CA, because of another party’s wrongful act, Rush Injury Law can help. Contact us today and schedule a free case review with a compassionate Santa Rosa wrongful death lawyer.
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