Has your loved one died due to the wrongful conduct of a person or company? A San Francisco wrongful death lawyer can help. Contact Wakeford Law today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation: (415) 569-7495
The unexpected loss of a loved one is a devastating, life-changing event. After such a tragedy, your grief may be even more difficult to cope with if your loved one died because of the wrongful conduct of a person or company.
In California, the law holds people, companies, and other entities accountable when their conduct results in death. It is possible that your family member died because of another party’s negligent, willful, or wrongful behavior.
You should contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer to discuss your legal rights.
You may be entitled to financial compensation from the at-fault party or parties. Our firm represents clients in San Francisco, Marin County, and the surrounding areas in wrongful death lawsuits.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death claim may exist when someone dies due to the legal fault of another person or entity, for example, a corporation or government agency. A wrongful death lawsuit can be brought in California state or federal court by certain surviving family members against the at-fault party.
If you live in Marin County, or that’s where your loved one lived or died, your lawyer may file your case in the Superior Court of California in Marin County or the federal United States District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco.
There are many different types of underlying accidents involved in wrongful death lawsuits. A wrongful death case may be filed after a car accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident. Other types of wrongdoing, such as medical malpractice or faulty consumer products, may also lead to a wrongful death lawsuit.
It is important to understand that a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed as a result of an act (such as a person’s reckless driving which leads to a fatal accident) or a failure to act (such as a doctor failing to warn a patient of the dangerous effects of mixing prescription medications). An experienced wrongful death lawyer will be able to identify whether you have a potential claim for wrongful death during an initial consultation.
If you live in the Bay Area, and you’re not sure whether you can file a wrongful death lawsuit after the passing of a loved one, contact an experienced California wrongful death lawyer right away.
Injured? Don’t Delay.
Types of Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Wrongful death claims result from different kinds of tragedies. Some cases are more clear-cut, for instance, when a drunk driver fatally injures another driver in a car crash. Others are more complicated. In 2020, unintentional injury was the leading cause of death in the U.S. In fact, unintentional injuries caused more than 80,000 deaths that year.
The most common types of wrongful death lawsuit that stems from unintentional injuries include the following:
- Workplace accidents and illnesses—workplace accidents can generate a workers’ compensation claim, but a fatal on-the-job accident or illness may also lead to a wrongful death claim.
- Vehicle accidents—when a driver or passenger is killed in an accident that results from someone else’s negligence or error or a faulty part or product, it may give rise to a wrongful death claim.
- Medical malpractice—when a medical provider makes a misdiagnosis, misses a diagnosis, makes a surgical or medication error, or engages in other negligent practices that result in a patient’s death, it is called medical malpractice. Medical malpractice that results in death can give rise to a wrongful death claim.
- Drownings—drownings can happen in a residential backyard at a relative’s or friend’s home or a city pool that wasn’t adequately secured. In these cases, the pool owner may be liable for wrongful death.
- Boating accidents—a boat operator who causes a boating accident or fails to provide lifejackets could be held liable for death from drowning or injury in a wrongful death claim.
- Premises liability accidents— property owners are legally responsible for keeping their properties free of hazards. When they don’t, and a slip and fall accident, injury from falling objects, or other premises liability accident results in death, the property owner may be liable.
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents–when a vehicle strikes someone walking or on a bicycle, especially around school zones or in crosswalks, it could lead to a wrongful death claim.
Other kinds of wrongful death include dog and animal attacks and criminal acts. Though most wrongful deaths are unintentional, an illegal act like intentional killing can lead to a wrongful death claim. In such cases, a defendant can face both criminal and civil penalties, including a wrongful death lawsuit.While these are some of the most common types of wrongful death claims, it is not a comprehensive list. Essentially anytime someone’s negligence causes someone else’s death, the deceased person’s family may be able to file a wrongful death claim.
Injured? Don’t Delay.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
Under California law, only certain categories of individuals are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you have any of the following types of relationships to the deceased person, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California state or federal court.
- Immediate family members, including spouses, biological children, step children, adopted children, and parents of unmarried children.
- Domestic partners, life partners, financial dependents, and “putative” spouses.
- A person who would have been entitled to receive a deceased person’s property or assets under California law if there are no other surviving family members.
Whether a person can file a lawsuit sometimes depends on the financial relationship they had with the deceased individual. Sometimes, the courts require the person who files the lawsuit to demonstrate the financial harm related to the wrongful death.
Because these rules can be difficult to understand, you should talk to a qualified wrongful death lawyer about your case as soon as possible after the passing of a loved one due to the fault of another party.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?
In California, a legal rule known as the “statute of limitations” requires you to file your lawsuit within a specific period of time.
If you miss this important deadline, the court will likely dismiss your case and you may be completely prohibited from recovering financial compensation through the courts.
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in California is two years from the date on which the person died.
What Types of Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The term “damages” is a legal term which refers to an award by the court, typically in the form of money that is intended to compensate someone for a specific type of loss. In a wrongful death lawsuit in California, damages may include:
- The costs of medical bills for your loved one’s illness or injury which resulted in death,
- Expenses associated with your loved one’s burial and funeral,
- Compensation for income that your loved one would have earned had they lived,
- The value of your loved one’s household services, and
- Compensation for loss of your loved one’s companionship, moral support, and guidance.
Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can be more difficult to calculate than in other types of lawsuits. This is because your wrongful death attorney will need to prove certain types of damages (such as loss of income). It can be difficult because this can often be speculative.
This is one of the many reasons why it’s so important to work with an experienced wrongful death lawyer.
Injured? Don’t Delay.
What Should I Look for in a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Choosing a wrongful death lawyer is an important decision. In your time of grief, you’ll want to work with someone who is both compassionate and experienced. You’ll need to work closely with your lawyer. This should be someone you trust to handle your family’s important legal and financial matters.
If you’re wondering if you have a claim, research attorneys in your area.
Set up initial consultations with a few different firms. During these initial consultations, ask about the results each lawyer has achieved for their clients in the past.
Ask about the firm’s practice areas and whether they specialize in personal injury and wrongful death cases. You wouldn’t want to hire a bankruptcy lawyer to work on this type of case.
A reputable wrongful death lawyer may be willing to provide you with references or testimonials from past clients.
Contact San Francisco Wrongful Death Lawyers Today
Have you lost a loved one due to the wrongful conduct of another party? Let’s discuss your case, call The Wakeford Law Firm today.
We understand that the unexpected death of a spouse or close family member can be devastating. Let us handle your legal matters so that you can focus on healing from your grief. For a free case review with us at (415) 569-7495 today.