|Understanding the California Wrongful Death Statute|
|What Types of Financial Compensation Are Available in a Wrongful Death Claim?|
|How Do I Know if I Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?|
|How Do I Find a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Los Angeles?|
No matter how it happens, losing a spouse can be one of the most traumatic things any of us will ever experience in our lifetimes.
Other than the death of a child, there are few things more devastating than the death of the person you had hoped to share the rest of your life with.
Even more tragic is when your loved one’s death is something that could have been prevented.
Whether your loss was because of a fatal car accident, a medical negligence that resulted in medical malpractice, or possibly one of many workplace accidents that take place every year in Los Angeles, one thing is for certain – the unexpected death of your spouse is one that should not have happened.
And it could have been prevented if someone else’s negligence hadn’t been at play.
But now you are here, and you have no idea what to do next.
From dealing with your own grief to dealing with the grief of others, you are under so much emotional distress that thinking about the future and what next steps you should take probably feels very overwhelming.
Not to mention the fact that you are also in the midst of making arrangements, planning and paying for funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, and trying to figure out what your own financial situation looks like going forward.
It’s a lot to handle at once, isn’t it?
But those who are telling you that you need to consider talking to a wrongful death lawyer are right.
Even during all the chaos and stress after your spouse’s death, having an experienced wrongful death attorney walking alongside you through the confusion and frustration is going to be vital to your long-term healing, and can make a big difference in your future financial situation, particularly if you or any surviving family members were financially dependent on your loved one before their death.
Though this may not seem like something that must be dealt with right now, it’s important you understand why finding the right wrongful death lawyer is not something you should put off doing.
Understanding the California Wrongful Death Statute
One of the main reasons why friends and family may be encouraging you to reach out sooner than later to a wrongful death lawyer in Los Angeles is because of the way certain laws are written in the state of California.
Under California law, there is something that is referred to as the statute of limitations when it comes to a wrongful death claim being filed.
This means that – from the time the death certificate states that the deceased person passed – there will be a two-year timeline for a family member to make a wrongful death claim on behalf of their deceased loved one.
Though two years may sound like a reasonably long period of time, after the death of a loved one this time can actually pass quite quickly.
From making various arrangements to meeting with family members, your insurance company, and even estate planners, you may be surprised at how quickly this time will go.
You also need to factor in the fact that – once you do decide to consult with a wrongful death attorney, it will be a period of time before you decide to proceed with your wrongful death lawsuit.
Most people who find themselves seeking the advice of a wrongful death attorney will usually want to meet with at least two different wrongful death lawyers before they decide which law firm will best meet their needs.
Again, this can take some time, so you’ll want to factor this into your timeline as well.
The bottom line is this – even in your grief and suffering, take the advice of family and friends around you and start the process of finding the right wrongful death attorney as soon as you can.
It is an important part of your path forward after this unfortunate thing that has happened to you and your family.
Making sure that you have the deserved and necessary financial compensation is going to be one last thing you’ll need to worry about and will bring great peace of mind to you and all of the surviving family members that are now your responsibility to care for.
What Types of Financial Compensation Are Available in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Two of the biggest questions people have when they first decide to reach out to a wrongful death attorney are these:
What types of financial compensation are even possible?
And how do I know if they even apply to me and my family?
These are important questions, and there are some very specific answers to both.
Let’s start by looking at what types of compensation may be available to you after your loved one’s death is determined to have been a wrongful death one.
Loss of Support:
This is probably the biggest area that will be considered when a jury looks at what sort of financial compensation should be awarded to you and your family members after the loss of your loved one.
This loss of income and services can be anything from income that has been lost from the time of the accident to future income that a surviving spouse and/or surviving family members will now not have because of their loved one’s unexpected death.
When considering Loss of Support financial compensation, a jury will carefully consider how much the deceased person’s income contributed to another person’s financial picture.
The more financially dependent you or your family members have been on the deceased person, the higher the overall financial award will most likely be.
Emotional Distress and Mental Suffering:
Another reason that oftentimes a jury will award financial support after a victim’s death is when it is clear that significant emotional distress and mental suffering has been caused to the deceased person’s family.
We know that any death comes with emotional pain and grief, no matter what the circumstances.
But in a case where the surviving family members have had to deal with their loved one’s death being at the hands of someone they trusted – like a doctor – or having happened at a place they believed was safe – like a workplace – then there may be a valid reason for a jury to decide that financial compensation is necessary for the enormous amount of mental healing that is going to be required for the survivors of this tragic event.
Medical Expenses and Funeral Expenses
Yet another example of why financial compensation may be awarded to a family or surviving spouse is to help offset and/or pay for medical or funeral expenses that have been incurred due to the accident or negligence that caused your loved one’s wrongful death.
For many families, burial and funeral expenses can run higher than some might think, and many survivors aren’t prepared for this, especially when the death was unexpected.
Seeking compensation for these types of costs is not at all unreasonable when you are filing a wrongful death claim.
This is just as true for those who may need to seek compensation for medical expenses that were incurred because of the accident or event that eventually caused the wrongful death claim to be filed.
Sometimes, a wrongful death claim is filed because a loved one passed quickly and unexpectedly.
Often, though, their death may be after a period of time in the hospital, trying to recover from injuries sustained from an accident.
This happens frequently when a car accident or workplace accident turns into a fatal accident and is the reason for the wrongful death claim.
Your spouse may have spent some significant time in the hospital or intensive care unit trying to heal before their eventual and unfortunate death.
When this is the case, it is highly likely that financial compensation will be awarded to you in order for you to be able to pay off these medical expenses on behalf of your deceased spouse or partner.
This is why a wrongful death suit makes sense in these types of situations where someone else’s negligence results in the fatal accident of your loved one.
How Do I Know if I Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Determining whether or not you are the person who can file a wrongful death lawsuit isn’t too complicated, especially if you understand California law and decide to work with California lawyers who specialize in wrongful death lawsuits.
As discussed above, in order to be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit, the person filing needs to be able to prove that they have suffered (or are going to suffer) mental, physical, or financial damages due to their loved one’s death.
Most wrongful death claims are filed by a deceased person’s spouse, but they can also be filed by another member of the family who has been financially dependent on the victim in the past or would have been in the future.
Some may wonder if it is difficult to prove that a person has been financially dependent on the deceased person.
The answer is that it depends on the case, but this is another reason why a knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer is going to be imperative to your case.
Documents like pay stubs, bank statements, wills, and estate documents will all need to be collected and submitted to court records as needed.
Wrongful death claims can be complicated legal cases. Often the personal injury law firms that may be representing the other side will be diligent in trying to prove that your wrongful death claim is unwarranted or at least that the damages sought are unreasonable, based on the information, testimony, and documents they provide.
Having the right wrongful death lawyers will help you navigate through this entire process and will be necessary for your long-term future as well as for your sanity and overall health while you are going through it.
How Do I Find a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Los Angeles?
Finding a wrongful death lawyer can be a bit more complicated than just googling “wrongful death lawyers in and around Los Angeles.”
Yes, you’ll get plenty of law firms popping up. But will they be the right law firm for you?
The first thing you need to do is make sure that the law firm you choose has the experience necessary to be able to represent your wrongful death claim in the way it deserves.
You will also want to make sure you find personal injury attorneys who offer a free consultation for any wrongful death cases that are brought to them.
Being willing to spend some time with the wrongful death victim’s family members is an important part of establishing trust and making sure that both you and your attorney are on the same page moving forward.
You will want to be able to share with them the details of your deceased person’s death and make sure they can answer any questions you may have about the process going forward.
A free consultation will also allow the wrongful death attorneys that may be involved in your case a chance to ask you questions as well and make sure they are the right firm to be able to best help you get the final compensation you need.
Wrongful death cases deserve an attorney who knows not only how to file wrongful death lawsuits, but is also skilled at walking alongside you and fighting for the outcome you and your family need and deserve.
John J. Perlstein
Top rated personal injury attorney in Beverly Hills, California