In times of loss and mourning, legal matters may be the farthest from one’s mind. However, ensuring that the affairs of the departed are handled with care and expertise is paramount for peace of mind and closure. When faced with such delicate situations in San Diego, having a dependable Death Lawyer by your side can make all the difference.
In this blog, we delve into the crucial role of a San Diego Death Lawyer and why finding the right attorney is essential during times of bereavement. We’ll explore the qualities to look for, the services they provide, and how entrusting your legal matters to the right professional can alleviate stress and streamline the process of settling affairs. Let’s embark on this journey to discover the compassionate expertise that can guide you through challenging times.
When Is a Death Considered “Wrongful?”
Wrongful death lawsuits follow the fundamental prerequisites of a personal injury lawsuit, indicating that a legitimate claim hinges on the breach of the standard duty of care. The duty of care encompasses the responsibility each person bears to prevent causing harm to others. Any conduct, or failure to act, contravening this duty renders the individual accountable for any resultant damages.
A claim can be initiated in the event of a death resulting from:
- Deliberate acts, such as assault
- Negligence leading to motor vehicle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- A defective or hazardous product
- Inadequately maintained property
- Any other accident attributable to negligence
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
Similar to many personal injury and negligence claims in California, plaintiffs are allotted a two-year window from the date of the victim’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This specific timeframe is commonly referred to as the “statute of limitations.”
What Type of Compensation Could I Be Entitled to?
Wrongful deaths can warrant financial compensation to cover a number of costs as well as emotional needs.
Compensation for these types of cases is always different, but usually falls into the following categories:
- Medical Expenses: Costs related to accident-related medical expenses incurred prior to the victim’s death.
- Funeral Expenses: Expenses associated with the funeral, burial, or memorial services for the deceased.
- Other Economic Damages: Any expenses directly arising from the loved one’s death, such as loss of income.
- Non-Economic Damages: Emotional harm, including pain and suffering or loss of companionship, resulting from the victim’s death. It’s important to note that in California, there are no caps on the amount of non-economic compensation a plaintiff can recover, except in cases of medical malpractice.
Criminal Charges vs. Wrongful Death Lawsuits
When someone intentionally causes the death of another person, criminal charges are typically initiated against the offender. It’s crucial for the surviving family members to recognize that, even if the offender faces criminal charges, they can still pursue a separate wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death claims are categorized as civil lawsuits and are designed to compensate surviving family members for the damages they have endured due to their loved one’s death. This is distinct from criminal charges, which are intended to penalize the offender for their unlawful actions.
Moreover, wrongful death lawsuits are not bound by the same principles as criminal cases. There is no presumption of innocence or burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if a defendant is acquitted in a criminal case due to the presence of reasonable doubt, they may still be found legally liable for a wrongful death claim based on existing evidence.
A notable example is the case of O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted of murder charges in a criminal trial involving his ex-wife and her boyfriend. However, he was later found legally liable for their deaths in a civil trial, demonstrating the distinction between criminal and civil proceedings.
In a wrongful death claim, the following must be proven:
- Existence of Negligence or Intent to Cause Harm: Establishing that the responsible party exhibited negligence or had the intent to cause harm, which ultimately resulted in the victim’s death.
- Probable Causative Relationship: Demonstrating a probable causal relationship between the identified negligence or intent and the death of the victim.
- Financial Hardship for Surviving Family Members: Highlighting the financial hardship experienced by the surviving family members, emphasizing the economic impact resulting from the loss of their loved one.
Successfully addressing these elements is crucial in building a strong case for a wrongful death claim. It involves presenting evidence and arguments to support the claim and seek compensation for the damages suffered by the surviving family members.
Why File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
While no amount of money can alleviate the emotional suffering or bring back a loved one, a wrongful death claim serves to provide support by addressing the financial damages that often arise from such a loss.
For instance, when an individual passes away, their future earning potential is extinguished, and this income might be the primary financial support for a family. In such cases, a wrongful death claim becomes essential to ensure that the surviving family members receive the financial support necessary to navigate the challenges of the future. While it cannot replace the personal loss, it aims to ease the economic burden associated with the absence of the deceased person’s financial contributions.