Accidents and incidents that result in death are traumatic for the entire family. It can be haunting to not know what happened, or know how it happened, especially if another party was at fault. In San Diego you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit, but there are a multitude of pitfalls that victims' family members can get stuck in.
The majority of these cases are complex and require a savvy and dedicated San Diego wrongful death attorney to expose the facts and hold wrongdoers accountable. While no sum of money can bring your loved one back, it can help ease the future by help you to recover any loss of income and burial expenses.
What types of wrongful death cases are common in San Diego, California?
There are many instances where a fatality can occur that leads to a wrongful death lawsuit, but the most common are car accidents, pedestrian-auto accidents, motorcycle-related accidents, medical malpractice instances, and defective products. A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed if your loved one was killed due to negligence on the part of another party, be it one person or an entire company. In these cases, you must be able to prove that the other party contributed your loved one's death.
In order for this to happen, your attorney would gather evidence and witnesses to help establish your claim. Evidence can include police and medical reports, car damage, camera footage, pictures after the accident, and eyewitness testimony. For negligence to occur, the other party must have had a duty to the deceased, must have failed in that duty, and the fatality must have occurred due to that breach.
For instance, if someone is speeding around San Diego, runs a red light, hits a vehicle and kills the driver, the duty to that driver to follow traffic laws and to protect surrounding drivers has been breached.
Why would family members of a victim want to sue? What could they accomplish?
While suing does not bring your loved one back, it can help ease the financial burden you and your family are suffering. When suing, you can ask for fee reimbursement for lost wages, medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and property damage (in the case of an auto accident). If you are a spouse, you can also be reimbursed for loss of consortium, which is a spouses help, love, and companionship. In addition to establishing negligence, you must be able to prove the “joint life expectancy” of the surviving spouse and the deceased spouse, to gauge the amount of funds you may be eligible for in a lawsuit.
Finally, you must prove that emotional loss is suffered by the survivor is critical to a fair award of damages. Again, this does not bring back your loved one, but the monetary reward can help ease your mind, especially if the deceased was the breadwinner for the family.
How does the statute of limitations affect these types of cases?
The California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335-349.4 states that the limit for a fatality caused in a wrongful, negligent manner is two years. This means that as soon as the loss occurs you need to consult with an attorney. Yes, your emotions will be there, and it can be painful to do, but it must be done.
Will I have to pay fees upfront for a wrongful death attorney?
With these types of lawsuits there are no upfront fees. Instead, fees are charged on a contingency basis, which means that if you win (and hopefully you will win), that your attorney is paid a percentage of your winnings. The percentage they can earn depends on your winnings, so be sure that either a flat percentage or the percentage amounts are stated in your retainer, so you will not be surprised. You need to have these fees stated in your contract, as they can be confusing.
If they are not stated, after the trial or settlement you may be trying to figure out where a large chunk of your money went. Contingency fees are the answer. While fees may seem exorbitant, this is much cheaper than paying an hourly fee. For any type of litigation, the hours, days, weeks, months, and years can drag on, and an hourly fee is just not feasible or ethical. Losing a loved one in a way that is clearly avoidable can be particularly difficult to bare. It is important that if there is a negligence factor that you contact an attorney experienced with San Diego wrongful death lawsuits.
While a lawsuit cannot bring back your loved one, the financial reward can help pay for outstanding bills, medical fees, funeral and burial fees, as well as pay for a new vehicle, if an auto accident was the cause of your loss. You must make sure that your attorney is experienced and dedicated to your case, as lawsuits can take years to settle or go to court. You also must be quick, as in the state of California you only have two years after the accident to file a lawsuit. A lawsuit is a must if your loved one was killed by another person's negligence.
Those seeking services from a skilled San Diego wrongful attorney are encouraged to call 800-838-6644 to obtain a free legal case evaluation. We can help you understand the process and make informed decisions about your future.