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As wrongful death attorneys, we often see many different types of claims that have tragically ended with a fatality in Orange County. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that there were 130,557 unintentional injury deaths as a result of unintentional poisonings, car accidents, and falls in 2013. California alone saw 2,715 fatal traffic accidents, including pedestrian accidents and big rig crashes, and there were a total of 396 fatal work injuries in California that same year.
In many cases like these, the accidents occurred because of the negligence of another. Similar to other personal injury claims, in a wrongful death case, determining who is at fault is a key component of finding the responsible party. However, these type of claims have a few differences in terms of who can file the case and what kind of damages can be claimed.
Under California wrongful death law, the survivors of a wrongful death victim are entitled to monetary damages as the result of the improper conduct, negligence, recklessness, criminal conduct, or inaction of another.
In California, the relatives who can file a claim include:
As you can see, not just anyone can pursue a wrongful death case. There has to be a significant relationship between the deceased and the claimant.
Damages in a wrongful death case are also different than in a regular injury claim. Under the law, an eligible survivor may recover damages for:
Although it’s difficult to put a number on the value of a person and their relationship to those around them, that’s part of what your attorney’s job is. He or she will help calculate your damages based on financial and personal losses and will strive to acquire the most compensation possible for you. Although no lawsuit or amount of money can ever bring a loved one back, a lawsuit can make a guilty party accountable for their actions as well as compensate the remaining family members moving forward.
Most states put a limit on the amount of time you have before filing a wrongful death claim. This is called the statute of limitations, and in California, it’s two years from the date of death. You must file a wrongful death case in civil court within this time frame, or you may lose your right to the claim completely. Therefore, it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as you are ready to pursue charges.
Obtaining a death certificate after the loss of a loved one is important for a number of legal reasons aside from a potential lawsuit including claiming life insurance and settling estates. When a death happens in Orange County, copies of the certificate are usually available via the Clerk-Recorder Department 30 days after the date of death. Please follow this link to learn more about obtaining a death certificate.
Lawsuits and legal implications aside, the mental health of the surviving family members is one of the most important factors of a wrongful death case that often goes overlooked. Losing a loved one can be debilitating and finding someone to speak to and help deal with grief can be a vital part of the healing process. There are many support groups and specialists in Orange County and throughout California who specialize in helping grieving families overcome loss:
At DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo, we have fought on behalf of our clients since 1979. We approach wrongful death cases with the compassion and tact you deserve, and we understand just how heartbreaking and emotionally exhausting losing a loved one can be.
You have the right to effective representation and legal action if you lost a loved one due to a negligent or careless act. Contact us today for a free consultation and see how we can help you and your family.