Losing a loved one can be devastating, and it can be even worse when your loved one died because of the negligent or intentional actions of another person. In California, the law recognizes that the family members of people who are wrongfully killed often suffer substantial losses because of their loved ones’ deaths. As a result, certain family members are allowed to file wrongful death civil lawsuits against the people who are responsible to hold them accountable for their actions. A compassionate wrongful death lawyer Sunnyvale at the San Jose Personal Injury Attorneys might advocate for you to recover the compensation to which you should be entitled after the loss of your loved one.
What is wrongful death?
Wrongful death is a type of legal claim that can be brought by certain surviving family members or the personal representative of a decedent’s estate against the people or entities that cause the decedent’s death through negligent or intentional conduct.
Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death
Under California’s wrongful death statute, only people with specific types of relationships with the decedents are allowed to sue for wrongful death. The following people may file a wrongful death claim in order of priority:
- The surviving spouse or domestic partner
- The surviving children
- If no survivors remain in the decedent’s line of descent, then the parents or siblings
People who were financially dependent on the deceased person may also file wrongful death lawsuits, including a putative spouse, the children of a putative spouse, stepchildren, and the decedent’s parents.
When to file wrongful death lawsuits
Some people think that they do not need to file wrongful death lawsuits because criminal cases are pending against the responsible parties. However, wrongful death civil lawsuits have a lower burden of proof than criminal cases. This means that you may be able to hold the defendant accountable for his or her actions even if he or she is acquitted in the criminal case.
Prosecutors in criminal cases have a very high burden of proving every element of the criminal offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, you will have the burden of proving your claim by a preponderance of the evidence, which means that it is more likely than not to have occurred as you allege. The difference in the burdens of proof in criminal cases and civil cases means that it can be easier to prevail in a civil case than in a criminal case.
You do not have to wait for a criminal case to finish before filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Since a wrongful death lawsuit falls under the civil law instead of the criminal law, a wrongful death claim can be filed simultaneously with a criminal case. It is also important for you to file your claim as soon as possible. The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in California is two years. Depending on the possible criminal charges that the defendant might face, a serious criminal case can drag on for a long time. If you wait to file your lawsuit, you may run out of time and be time-barred from recovering damages for your losses.
Contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer Sunnyvale
When you lose a loved one because of the intentional or negligent conduct of another, you may be left struggling with unexpected expenses combined with losses and grief. While money will not be able to replace your loved one, a lawsuit can allow you to hold the defendant accountable for his or her actions and to compensate you for your economic and noneconomic losses. Contact the San Jose Personal Injury Attorneys to schedule a free consultation by calling 408.217.1778.
Under California law, it is possible to recover financial compensation for past and future pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, past and future loss of income, and punitive damages.