Curtis Legal Group The Heavy HittersTM!
Award-winning Sacramento, CA Wrongful Death Attorneys
The sudden and unexpected death of a loved one can be especially painful for the entire family. As experienced Sacramento wrongful death lawyers we understand how difficult this is on you and your family. We know this is an incredibly trying time and we want extend our sympathies to you and your loved ones.
As you now look to find answers and potentially hold a business or person responsible for the death of your family member, the attorneys at Curtis Legal Group are here to help. Our lawyers are experienced in wrongful death litigation, and know how to build the strongest case possible so you and your family can obtain justice and compensation for the wrongful death victim. And while we know this is a painful and confusing time, our experienced wrongful death attorneys have assisted many families in pursuing litigation for the wrongful death of a loved one.
Finding a trustworthy and caring wrongful death lawyer to guide your family through filing a wrongful death claim or lawsuit is essential to making the process go smoothly while you are grieving. As your wrongful death lawyer, we will thoroughly investigate the events surrounding the death of your loved one, find all responsible parties and determine the best course of action to pursue your wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits in California
What You Should Know
Wrongful Death Suits: Civil vs Criminal
Wrongful death describes the “death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another” under the California Code of Civil Procedure. Wrongful death occurs when someone is killed due to the misconduct or negligence of a person or entity. Wrongful death is a cause of action under civil law. When someone files a wrongful death lawsuit, they are seeking to collect financial compensation for the loss of their loved one.
Depending on the cause of death, criminal charges could be filed against the responsible parties, but those legal proceedings are conducted independently of a civil wrongful death case. A favorable result in a wrongful death civil lawsuit results in financial compensation to the victim’s survivors and cannot not send a responsible party to jail for their actions. A criminal case would be initiated by a government entity and only that type of case could involve criminal penalties.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Not all activities that people engage in have the same amount of risk. Wrongful death claims tend to be associated more frequently with activities where the risk of death is greater. Some activities that have a high risk of death are nevertheless everyday activities for a lot of people. The following types of incidents commonly cause wrongful death:
- car accidents
- big truck accidents
- unsafe work conditions
- defective products
- medical malpractice
Requirements for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
By law, California only allows certain individuals to file a wrongful death claim. These individuals include surviving spouses, qualified domestic partners, children, and grandchildren. Parents can also sue for the wrongful death of an adult child if they were financially supported by them and in other circumstances. Others may also be entitled to file a wrongful death claim depending on whether they would an inherit from the deceased individual through intestate succession, i.e. the family member died without a will or trust. In addition, certain other individuals may also qualify to file a wrongful death claim if they were financially dependent on the deceased person prior to the deceased person’s death. In California, a wrongful death action can be initiated by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate or any of the following people:
- Surviving spouse or domestic partner
- Grandchildren (of deceased children)
- Parents (if the deceased had no children)
- Legal guardian (if parents are deceased)
- Persons economically dependent on the decedent
California Wrongful Death Damages
For a wrongful death case to be valid, your lawyers must present evidence of the losses that resulted from your loved one’s passing. Financial loss is most commonly used in court because it is the easiest to quantify. If the deceased provided income to the household, losing that income can be a huge loss for a family. Additionally, the medical bills for any care received before your loved one died, as well as any funeral expenses, can be a drain on family resources. As your wrongful death lawyer, we will fight to get all available financial damages from the responsible parties.
We will fight to get the surviving family members financial compensation for your loved one’s tragic passing.
Our lawyers will work to prove that your family’s monetary losses, as well as emotional, caregiving, and other losses, are all significant and justified.
Why Hire Us to be Your Wrongful Death Lawyers
Even if the at fault party in your wrongful death case is a company, you will likely be dealing with their insurance provider and its attorneys. We have extensive experience standing up to corporate insurance companies and have successfully helped families obtain the financial compensation they’re owed.
Insurance companies do not have your best interests at heart and do not want to provide your family with maximum, if any, compensation. We are familiar with their tactics and will work to ensure your family has the financial support you need. Wrongful death cases will often settle out of court; however, if a settlement cannot be reached, we are prepared to fight for your family in court.
How We Prove a Wrongful Death Claim
The most common legal standard for imposing liability in wrongful death cases is negligence. A person is found negligent if the harm to another was a foreseeable consequence of the action taken or actions that should have been taken and were not. The foreseeability of the consequences is determined by what a reasonable person would have understood given the same circumstances.
The four elements necessary to prove negligence in a wrongful death claim include:
- Establishing a duty of care – People have a duty to avoid activities where a foreseeable consequence is a harm to others.
- Showing a breach of duty – The duty of care is breached by engaging in activities despite the potential for harm to others.
- Connecting the breach to the harm – It’s not enough that a defendant was negligent. The defendant’s negligence must be a ‘substantial factor’ in causing harm to the plaintiff.
- Proving the extent of the harm – Plaintiffs need to provide proof of their losses to justify an award of compensation.
A duty of care does not need to be established where a defendant has violated a law. The law creates the standard of care and violating it constitutes a breach of thsis standard. Negligence is presumed as a matter of law, but a plaintiff still must prove the violation was a substantial factor in causing the claimed harm.
In California, surviving family members or the estate of a person who has died due to someone else’s wrongful act can bring a lawsuit for damages under California’s wrongful death law. Those who can receive damages include surviving spouses, domestic partners, children, and other heirs.
In addition to economic damages such as medical expenses and lost wages, plaintiffs may also be able to recover non-economic damages, including pain and suffering. Until recently, California law did not allow for the recovery of these types of damages in wrongful death actions; however, a new law passed in 2020 now allows for the recovery of pain and suffering damages in certain cases.
Who is Liable for a Wrongful Death?
Any person who actually caused harm to another is liable for the consequences, but other individuals and/or entities are often also legally responsible, in fact, or by law, for contributing to the circumstances that caused the harm which resulted in the wrongful death and/or because they had some type of control over the responsible party.
California Wrongful Death Settlements and Awards
Any compensation awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit in the state of California is awarded in the following order:
- The surviving spouse or domestic partner.
- The surviving children.
- The surviving grandchildren of any deceased child of the deceased person.
- Whoever is next in line to inherit by way of intestate succession if there is no surviving children or grandchildren of the deceased person.
- Certain others who were financially dependent on the deceased person.
In the death of a minor without children or spouse and/or domestic partner, the compensation goes to the parents. In addition, parents who are being financially supported by an adult child can also potentially recover financial compensation for their loss.
Contact the Sacramento Wrongful Death Attorneys at Curtis Legal Group and Schedule Your Free Consultation
Our caring and experienced personal injury lawyers have years of experience securing compensation for client. We can provide you with skilled legal representation during this difficult time. We understand that our work cannot heal the wounds caused by the unexpected and often preventable death of your loved one, but we can help bring you some semblance of closure by holding the responsible party or parties accountable. Additionally we work to fight for the financial compensation your family needs to be in to achieve a stronger financial foundation with which to move forward.
If you believe someone else’s actions were the cause of your loved one’s death, contact Curtis Legal Group today at 1-800-LAW-3080 or send us a message below and we will reach out to you shortly. There are time limits on how long you have to file a personal injury claim in California so contact our attorneys today to protect your legal rights.