For many people, hiring a Sacramento wrongful death lawyer may help ease the financial burden of having a loved one die suddenly. Some may think that seeking damages after a wrongful death of a loved one can seem pointless. But wrongful death suits do provide a way to seek justice. In addition, they potentially prevent another family from going through what yours already has. Just as importantly, a Sacramento wrongful death lawyer can help you get compensation for funeral expenses and outstanding medical bills. The attorney also pursues financial relief for you that’s related to lost earnings — and for the emotional hole left by the departed.
What A Sacramento Wrongful Death Lawyer Should Be
In this article:
- Definition of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
- What Other Cases Can Be Considered In Wrongful Death Claims?
- How Can a Knowledgeable Attorney Make a Difference?
- What A Sacramento Wrongful Death Lawyer Should Know About The Law?
- Other Things A Lawyer Should Know About The California Law
- How Quickly Will the Lawyer Respond to Me?
- Is My Kind of Case Common for This Region?
- What About the Emotional Costs?
- Where Can I See Reviews and Testimonials of the Lawyers I’m Interested In?
Definition of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In a wrongful death lawsuit, survivors pursue damages following the death of a loved one. These cases get filed when the survivors believe the death would not have occurred were if not for the harmful actions or the negligence of another party. That party can be a corporation, an individual, or both.
For example, the loved one’s family might name his or her workplace in a wrongful death lawsuit. These cases happen when evidence suggests that dangerous working conditions lead to that death. Additional wrongful death claims assert that an unsafe building or a faulty vehicle contributed to the death. In these cases, the maker and/or owner could be named in a wrongful death suit. In other instances, the manufacturer of a food, drug, or other product implicated in the death can also be sued.
What Other Cases Can Be Considered In Wrongful Death Claims?
Another example of a wrongful death suit might involve a reckless driver. If that driver caused the crash that killed your loved one, he or she could be named in a wrongful death suit.
Many families have successfully sued medical professionals they believed to be negligent. Such cases may also name the hospital or medical institutions of the medical professional in the case.
All of these situations can be complex or difficult to prove but a competent attorney knows how to assemble a compelling, legally sound wrongful death suit. As a Sacramento-based wrongful death attorney since 1982, Edward A. Smith understands what arguments courts consider frivolous — and how to avoid those legal minefields.
How Can a Knowledgeable Attorney Make a Difference?
Like other states, California follows specific regulations regarding who can be named in a wrongful death claim. The courts strictly follow rules about who can bring that claim, and under which circumstances that lawsuit can be filed. The attorney you consult should be knowledgeable about the specifics of state and federal wrongful death claim regulations.
What A Sacramento Wrongful Death Lawyer Should Know About The Law?
Some crucial facts your attorney should understand include:
- According to the law, legal spouses and domestic partners, as well as children from those marriages, can file these claims. In addition, the deceased’s stepchildren may be able to file a suit, if they can prove that they were dependent on that person. California state law also allows biological children conceived outside a legal marriage to seek damages. So can a “putative spouse” and/or the children from that relationship. What is a putative spouse? Someone who may have understood themselves to be married to the deceased, yet local laws may not recognize the marriage. The court doesn’t see all of these relationships as clear-cut as you do. So your attorney must confidently establish your relationship with the person who died. He also must prove your right to pursue a claim.
- California law does not allow for punitive damage — that is, a financial reward that punishes the person found responsible — under a normal wrongful death case. However, the person who died may have previously lost money to the party later found responsible for his or her death. If so, punitive damages may form part of the wrongful death action. These cases usually connect to felony homicides.
Other Things A Lawyer Should Know About The California Law
- If the loved one got involved in a personal injury case before death, the “pain and suffering” portion of the case cannot be pursued upon the loved one’s death. That’s according to state law. However, other parts of the original suit may still be pursued, such as expenses and lost wages. However, your lawyer needs the experience in order to evaluate the best course of action to take in this situation.
- The loved one does not need to have been wealthy, or a high wage earner, in order for the courts to award significant damages. California and other states recognize that the loss of a stay-at-home spouse or other relative is emotionally and financially devastating. Survivors may lose wages or income in order to provide daycare and household upkeep. The courts also recognize lost emotional and romantic companionship as worthy of awarding damages. But the case for these sometimes abstract concepts needs to be made carefully — by a legal team aware of the arguments most effective in the local court system.
How Quickly Will the Lawyer Respond to Me?
As emotionally grueling as pursuing a wrongful death claim can be, you need to act as soon as possible. Physical evidence — especially those found in outdoor conditions — need to be documented right away. In addition, cover-ups are also an unfortunate occurrence, especially when the company or individual is well-connected. Witnesses can be intimidated, and records can be altered.
For these reasons, you’ll need to move on if a potential lawyer is vague about timetables, or slow to return phone calls. Other intangibles can also slow the process. If you have a poor working relationship, attorney-client communication bogs down. You don’t need to find yourself “dragging your feet” because you dread dealing with your own lawyer.
Again, checking out a website such as Yelp, Google Plus, Million Dollar Advocates, or Avvo will give you a strong sense of how clients and peers perceive any wrongful death attorney you might be considering. Ed Smith has one of the highest ratings in the region. Much of that strong showing comes from the swiftness and compassion he brings to each wrongful death claim.
Is My Kind of Case Common for This Region?
You might have gotten a great recommendation for a lawyer based in another state or county. He may have a great track record but the cost of an out-of-town attorney may be too much for you.
Perhaps there’s a car mechanic you believe to be responsible for your loved one’s fatal car accident. A local attorney is more likely to know the mechanic’s reputation. Or there may be an area with notorious roads, or which has other dangerous geographical features specific to the region.
In the greater Sacramento region, for example, drowning deaths are not as rare as they should be. That’s translated to a higher number of legal investigations, both criminal and civil. When it comes to wrongful death lawsuits regarding fatalities in the American River, Folsom Lake, and other recreational areas, an attorney who has handled similar cases becomes invaluable. Ed Smith and his team have experience in pursuing claims against reckless boaters or negligent recreation providers in the area.
What About the Emotional Costs?
Many people never pursue damages after a loved one’s death because of the emotional cost of reliving the surrounding circumstances. Or they may drop the case because their attorney doesn’t take these upsetting factors into account. And certainly, you don’t need to compound the original tragedy with the stress of an incompetent attorney.
Ask trusted friends and colleagues, or perhaps someone in your grief support group, if they know anyone who pursued a wrongful death case. Chances are, you can glean trustworthy recommendations from these sources.
Ed Smith and his entire team emphasize this kind of relationship. They believe in helping their clients through every aspect of difficult cases and continue to prize the relationship after the case wraps up. When appropriate, they can help you find grief support groups, helpful books and other literature, and counselors who specialize in grief and survivor issues.
Where Can I See Reviews and Testimonials of the Lawyers I’m Interested In?
Look for testimonials on online resources such as Avvo, Yelp and Google Plus. Obviously, you primarily want to find an attorney who gets results. Do you fear that the stress of the case will be too much without a supportive attorney? If so, focus on the reviews that specifically mention personal attention and respect to the client, on the part of the attorney.
When can you file a wrongful death claim? Watch this video by Sacramento wrongful death lawyer Edward Smith for a better understanding of this claim:
Ultimately, what you and your family look for in a Sacramento wrongful death lawyer may not be what someone in a similar position needs. It’s crucial that you feel comfortable with the attorney’s legal experience, communication style and that lawyer’s record of quick and successful cases. Call Ed Smith for a free consultation, or set one up using our online system. This no-pressure meeting will help you answer any lingering questions you have, about how to handle the injustice and loss stemming from the death of your loved one.
Do you have a wrongful death case you want to file and pursue? Tell us what you need help with in the comments section below and we will do our best to help you out.
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