Wrongful Death Attorney - Orange
Under California law, if someone causes injury or financial loss to someone else, then the negligent party would be responsible for compensating the affected party for damages. However, if the accident results in death, then the surviving family can be compensated for their loss.
Filing a wrongful death claim is a legal right, but it is very demanding on grieving families. At Santiago Accident Lawyers, we have the experience that is required to deal with the unique circumstances of these types of civil cases. Our effective efforts yield an expeditious turnaround, while also obtaining a maximized settlement offer.
Our law firm in the city of Orange puts each client's best interest first, as an honest attorney/client relationship is the basis for a strong partnership during such a delicate time. More than ever, it’s important to surround yourself with a team of caring professionals who will always advocate on your behalf. To discuss your story, please schedule a free consultation with us today.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death claims are filed when a victim suffers from a fatal accident caused by a negligent individual. Even if the act itself was unintentional, the law holds all contributing parties who exhibited negligent actions accountable. In order to initiate this process, a wrongful death claim must be filed.
Similar to filing a personal injury claim, pursuing legal action in a wrongful death case focuses on proving why the defendant is at fault and indicating the damages that are now owed. Damages are considered loss of income, loss of financial support, development of emotional trauma, and all other ramifications that are directly related to the wrongful death accident.
The purpose of filing a wrongful death claim is for families to recoup all identifiable losses that were suffered after losing a loved one. While victims of accidents and their families are legally entitled to compensation after suffering the consequences of someone else's negligence, recovering compensation is often disputed by insurance companies and their legal teams.
Additionally, the processes and stipulations surrounding wrongful death cases in California vary from other states. Therefore, if the accident that caused the fatal injury occurred in the city of Orange, it’s vital to seek legal counsel from a local Orange County wrongful death attorney.
At Santiago Accident Lawyers, our legal team has the knowledge and qualifications to protect you and your family from greedy insurers, and we will make every effort to obtain the highest financial settlement on your behalf.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?
The laws governing a wrongful death claim vary in every state. That means policies, statutes, and even eligibility can be drastically different. In fact, those who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Orange, CA are limited to select individuals.
In addition–and potentially surprising to some–not every family member can file suit after losing a loved one. In most wrongful death cases, only the following can file for wrongful death damages:
- Surviving spouse
- Surviving partner/Domestic partners
An experienced wrongful death attorney from Santiago Accident Lawyers will examine the details of your case to confirm who can, in fact, file a claim in California. To learn more, schedule a free consultation here.
Types of Wrongful Death Accidents in California
The most common types of personal injury accidents coincide with the most common types of wrongful death accidents and are often motor vehicle-related. Depending on the severity, these types of crashes can cause economic loss and fatalities. Auto-related accidents that cause fatal injuries include:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Truck accidents
Automobile accidents are increasingly common throughout the city of Orange, particularly on high-trafficked roads and freeways like State Route 57 (SR 57) and around popular destinations like Chapman University in Old Towne.
Most Common Causes of Wrongful Death Accidents
When it comes to a car accident that results in wrongful death, the main cause often pertains to a negligent driver. Reckless drivers who have engaged in any other activity outside of operating their vehicles, not only put themselves at risk, but they also endanger others around them.
Common examples of negligent behavior include texting and driving, drunk driving, eating, applying makeup, and talking to passengers. While the intent to harm another individual may not have been intentional, anyone who is guilty of negligent driving will be held liable for the crash.
How to Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Case
When a wrongful death claim is filed in California, it will need to be proven that someone else's negligence was responsible for the fatal accident. There are four distinct elements to prove this, and they must be established in order to hold the other party liable. Those elements include:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to act in a reasonably safe manner
- There was a breach of duty of care by the defendant
- The breach led to an accident that caused fatal injuries
- As a result of the wrongful death accident, the surviving family suffered damages
Personal injury claims are complex, and dealing with the processes to file a wrongful death claim is difficult. This is why retaining the support of a trusted legal team is so vital. Doing so provides families with the professional experience they deserve in order to reach a resolution in an efficient manner.
When to File Wrongful Death Claims
California’s statute of limitations only permits a two-year span to bring forth a wrongful death suit. Therefore, if the accident occurred in Orange County, the statute begins on the date of death, not when the injuries were first sustained.
However, there is also a "discovery rule," which extends the limitations period. The discovery rule is applied if the cause of death was not known at the time of the victim's passing and was later discovered.
During this period, the timeframe may feel accelerated while dealing with the grief of losing a loved one. Regardless of the circumstances, the courts do not make exceptions and will dismiss wrongful death cases that do not meet the statute's criteria.
In addition to meeting cutoff dates, the sooner legal action is taken, the sooner a resolution can be reached. Postponing filing a claim can compromise the collection of evidence and result in an unsuccessful wrongful death case outcome. Orange County wrongful death lawyers can provide superior representation to grieving families while also allowing them the freedom to heal during this troubling time.
What Is the Value of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The value of wrongful death cases is a regular query for many families–and rightfully so. There is no exact value for every wrongful death claim.
However, there are a number of factors that are taken into account to calculate an estimated case value. Unanticipated financial circumstances as well as the mental turmoil from losing a loved one all affect the worth of a wrongful death lawsuit.
These factors and more are reflected in the form of economic damages (financial losses) and non-economic damages (non-financial losses). Examples of these types of damages include:
- Accrued medical bills or hospital expenses before the decedent's death
- Emotional damage from the loss
- Funeral costs and burial expenses
- Household services that were previously provided
- Loss of consortium, companionship, or sexual relations
- Lost wages and loss of income
- Pain and suffering
Other Factors That Affect Wrongful Death Verdicts
When calculating financial compensation in a wrongful death case, family members are entitled to damages ranging from the date of injury to the date of the loved one's death.
Anticipated future damages, like loss of future income, are also taken into account. This allows family members who were financially dependent on the deceased to be covered for the full scope of losses in the final settlement.
Punitive damages are another form of recovery but do not carry a monetary value like economic and non-economic damages. Families can still recover money, but unlike its counterparts, punitive damages are determined and awarded by the courts to punish a defendant's negligence.
How Long Will the Wrongful Death Case Take to Settle?
The timeline of a wrongful death case is determined by certain variables, such as when the date of the passing occurred and the types of damages that were sustained as a result. Examples of what can be compensated in this type of case include funeral and burial expenses, mental pain and suffering, and loss of income.
Once calculated, a claim is filed against the at-fault party. If the defendant’s insurance company disputes the claim, negotiations take place, extending the timeline. If the case goes to trial, reaching a verdict with a judge and jury involved will also add to the turnaround time.
Ultimately, a grand loss of damages paired with a high case value will take time to settle and can range from months to years. With that said, waiting for a fair and full settlement to be reached is greatly beneficial. Otherwise, insurance companies will attempt to convince families to settle at a significantly reduced rate in exchange for a quick payout.
When working with an experienced wrongful death attorney, it will be confirmed when a wrongful death matter should be settled or when it is worth continuing to pursue damages. Our law firm has the resources and knowledge to help you make these types of decisions. At Santiago Accident Lawyers, we provide superior legal services and will take on the insurance companies so that you can recover the maximum compensation that is deserved.
Wrongful Death Attorneys in Orange, CA
At Santiago Accident Lawyers, our compassionate team of legal professionals understands the devastating impact a fatal accident has on families. That is why we dedicate ourselves to reaching a prompt but fair outcome for our clients, while also working on contingency.
The process begins by investigating the accident and obtaining evidence to prove fault. Once a case value is determined, a wrongful death claim will be filed. If the insurance company disputes the amount owed, we will proceed with aggressive negotiations. If necessary, we will take the case to litigation in order to recover maximum damages.
We understand that these are sensitive times. While keeping the two-year statute of limitation in mind, please consult with our experienced wrongful death attorney in Orange County; our consultation is free and confidential. A member of our team is available 24/7 to assist with scheduling, so when you're ready to talk, we're here to listen.