Should you seek a wrongful death attorney upon a loved one’s wrongful death? You may be feeling immobilized by shock after your spouse, parent, or child dies unexpectedly, but if you have reason to believe that another party caused that death, you should act fast. Often, a hospital or business that might be found liable will move fast to secure witnesses and alter documentation. That’s why you should consult a wrongful death attorney to assess whether you have a case. If you do, that lawyer will protect your interests, before evidence disappears or “gets lost.”
Understanding Wrongful Death Claims
In this article:
- What Circumstances Would be Considered a Wrongful Death Situation?
- Finding the Wrongful Death Attorney Who’s Right for You
- Can Your Lawyer Handle All Phases of Wrongful Death Cases?
There are only certain circumstances under which you can file a wrongful death claim. In the state of California, a surviving spouse or legal domestic partner can be the plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit. Children from that marriage or domestic partnership can do so, too. A grandchild can also file a wrongful death lawsuit if his or her parent (the child of the deceased party) had previously died.
There are other circumstances in which a plaintiff has a reasonable claim. But he or she may need a wrongful death lawyer to help establish that claim. That person may be a “putative spouse,” for example. In other words, they were considered married, but the state of California does not recognize it as a legal marriage. This can happen if the marriage took place in another country. The children or stepchildren of the putative spouse can file a claim in certain circumstances.
Another factor for which you might need help proving a claim? If the person who passed away took care of an unrelated child’s expenses. However, that child should have lived with the deceased for at least six months. The minor can file a wrongful death lawsuit, under these circumstances.
A financially dependent parent can also pursue a wrongful death claim.
What Circumstances Would be Considered a Wrongful Death Situation?
Legally speaking, wrongful death occurred if an individual or business caused the death of your loved one. The death may have come about from negligence, unsafe behavior, or even by someone knowingly putting the deceased in an unsafe situation.
Some of the more common causes of death in wrongful death cases include:
- Drunk driving accidents
- Other traffic accidents
- Nursing home negligence
- Incompetently handled surgeries
- An improper medical diagnosis.
Other examples of wrongful death include when an individual died because of unsafe food or medicine, consumer good, or workplace.
Finding the Sacramento Wrongful Death Lawyer Who’s Right for You
Why is a wrongful death attorney’s role so crucial? Not only can he prove negligence or intentional fault, but he can also help you understand the kind of claim you should pursue. Many people don’t know the categories of awards that are available under California state law. Because of this, they may not seek as much in financial damages as the law says they are entitled to.
If you lost your spouse, you should be able to seek damages for the loss of current and future financial support. You can also ask the court to consider the services provided by your spouse that you will now have to pay for. This includes daycare costs or house cleaning. There’s also the emotional fallout of the loss of your life partner. This can be listed as “loss of companionship” or “loss of consortium.” The cost of a funeral and other final expenses should also be considered. Medical expenses incurred before the death as well.
If the loved one was your parent, you can seek damages for loss of financial support and inheritance, when appropriate. A minor can also receive damages for loss of parental support and care — both financial and emotional.
If the death happened because of a felony homicide, additional damages can be awarded as a punishment to the perpetrator, in some cases.
Many people may understand that their loved one died under circumstances that warrant a wrongful death claim. But without an attorney experienced in these cases, they may not pursue all of the damages that California law says they can seek.
Of course, you can’t always know ahead of time if a wrongful death attorney will be a good fit for your case. But you can research his or her record. You can also check if any complaints have been made with the State Bar Association. In addition, visit online sources such as Avvo or LegalZoom, which rate lawyers within the geographical and practice area that you need. Former clients and colleagues who rate and comment upon these attorneys can give you a sense of how they handle wrongful death cases.
Edward A. Smith has a perfect rating on Avvo, high marks on Google, and a larger number of fans on social media platforms. All of these can help potential clients assess his law firm when looking for a wrongful death lawyer in the Sacramento area. In addition, Ed is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. This membership is reserved for attorneys who have obtained verdicts of more than $1 million.
Can Your Lawyer Handle All Phases of Wrongful Death Cases?
A settlement in your case can certainly prevent a great deal of emotional anguish. It can also save time and money on all sides. But there are times in which it’s just not possible to avoid a jury trial. Verify that your potential wrongful death attorney doesn’t hold a reputation for taking lower settlements because of a dread of an actual trial.
Sometimes, a defendant may drag out legal proceedings in hopes that the plaintiff drops out. If the case involves an insurance company — as is often the situation in the wrongful death cases with a medical negligence as a factor — they may also attempt to prolong the proceedings.
Taking it to Court
Should your case go to court, a lawyer should be ready to present it as compellingly as possible. Ed Smith is prepared to fight the tactics of powerful defendants. He believes in helping a jury get to know the deceased so that the jury understands the magnitude of his client’s loss. He’ll help clients compile photo albums, yearbooks, wedding videos, report cards — anything that illustrates the relationship of the plaintiff with his or her child, spouse or parent. He will also support the clients through the emotional testimony necessary for a jury to understand the human side of each wrongful death case.
Let a wrongful death attorney guide you through such a painful time.
Don’t hesitate to contact our office to find out more about what’s involved with pursuing your wrongful death claim. Ed Smith and his team make it a point to handle such cases with great compassion and sensitivity. You won’t be pressured or charged during the consultation. But you will be given an honest assessment of the merits of a possible wrongful death lawsuit. Together, we’ll decide what the next steps will be in this emotional — and important — journey.
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