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Each of the three attorneys at Spiering, Swartz and Kennedy is a member of both the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Each has won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

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Wrongful Death

The death of a loved one is an incredibly difficult process to endure. In the event that the death was caused by the negligence of another party, financial worries and legal action prosecuting those responsible can intensify feelings of loss and stress. When it comes to recovering the damages suffered after a family member's death, it is vital to retain legal counsel to learn your rights and help file a timely wrongful death claim.

Help for Victims' Families

When a person dies due to the fault of another person, that person's living relatives may be able to file a wrongful death claim. A death may occur as a result of a car-accident, trucking accident, motorcycle accident, or a fall on someone's property (premises liability accident). Sometimes a person incurs hospital or medical bills because of the accident and then dies of those injuries. All of these situations are wrongful death claims. Wrongful death claims were created to protect the rights and well-being of a victim's family and filing them correctly is crucial to being adequately compensated.

Who can file a wrongful death claim?

Wrongful death claims are filed on behalf of the survivors who suffer any damages, expenses and extenuating circumstances as a result of the decedent's death. According to California Civil Procedure section 377.60, the following people, or a representative on their behalf, may file wrongful death claims:

  • Immediate family members (spouses, children and parents of unmarried children)
  • Life partners or domestic partners
  • Putative spouses (a domestic partnership entered into in good faith)
  • Minors residing with and dependent on the decedent 6 months prior to the death

What are the elements of wrongful death compensation?

Compensation for family members or individuals filing claims typically involves three general types of damages. These damages include economic damages, non-economic damages and punitive damages.

Economic damages consist of any financial support or monetary income the victim would have provided to the survivors if he or she did not die. These include the medical expenses and funeral costs associated with the death. In addition, families can be compensated for the loss of the victim's expected financial support (future income, the loss of benefits such as medical coverage and pension plans), loss of any gifts or benefits, and for the value of goods and services that the victim would have contributed to their family.

Non-economic damages are considered less tangible, though not less valuable, forms of support the deceased victim would have provided. For example, the surviving family's loss of love, companionship and loss of care, protection, guidance and advice of a loved one are all forms of non-economic damages for which a responsible party is required to provide compensation. These forms of suffering are inexplicable and extremely difficult to equate to dollars.

Punitive damages can be given to the families of victims in order to punish those responsible for the wrongful death and can vary considerably from case to case. If there is a criminal proceeding involving the defendant, misconduct and larger punitive damages can be assessed.

Providing Victims with Legal Help

Calculating damages can be a very complicated, frustrating and altogether unwanted experience. In addition to proving negligence or carelessness on behalf of the other party, wrongful death actions can become increasingly complex. These cases can involve complicated areas of law, intricacies in financial matters and an uncompassionate legal atmosphere, making wrongful death procedures easily misunderstood without experienced legal advice. Our firm takes pride in the fact that we establish a close and genuine relationship with our clients, competently assess their particular case and do everything in our power to reach a successful result. We understand that wrongful death claims create additional burdens to an already difficult situation and do our best to alleviate your worries and pain by getting the justice and compensation you deserve. Contact us to discuss your situation and how we can help.