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Orange County Wrongful Death Attorney

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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 200,955 unintentional injury deaths as a result of unintentional poisonings, car accidents, and falls in 2020. California alone saw 3,847 fatal traffic accidents, including pedestrian accidents and big rig crashes, and there were a total of 463 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 types of claims have a few differences in terms of who can file the case and what kind of damages can be claimed.

If you suspect that one of your loved ones passed due to someone else’s negligent actions, contact the law firm of DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo for a free consultation to discuss your legal options. Our experienced Orange County wrongful death lawyers will help fight for the compensation that you deserve. Our team operates on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay nothing unless we win. Get the legal advice you need today.

OC wrongful death lawyer

Orange County Wrongful Death Resources

Why Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney?

Wrongful death claims can be incredibly stressful, particularly for those who lack much legal experience. You are not expected to know how to handle every facet of these claims. It is crucial to work with a skilled wrongful death attorney in Orange County if you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another. An attorney will handle every aspect of your claim.

First, your attorney will talk to you how you deserve to be communicated with – as someone going through an incredibly challenging time. Your lawyer will use their resources to fully investigate every aspect of the case, digging into every possible avenue of liability against other parties involved. Additionally, your lawyer will work with trusted economic experts to help calculate the total losses you and your family are expected to incur. It is imperative to adequately calculate how much compensation you should receive.

Finally, your lawyer will fully prepare the case for trial if the other side refuses to offer a fair settlement. The process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court is complex, and trying a case in front of a jury is even more challenging. A skilled wrongful death lawyer who has extensive experience handling these claims will best be able to navigate the process on your behalf so you can focus on grieving the loss of your loved one.

We encourage you to find a wrongful death lawyer who takes these claims on a contingency fee basis so that you and your family will not have to worry about paying legal fees until after the attorney successfully recovers the compensation needed.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Timeline

Individuals involved in wrongful death lawsuits often wonder how long it will take for their case to finalize. The reality is that there is no solid answer to this question. There are a few routes that the case may take, namely, either a settlement or a personal injury jury trial.

More often than not, a successful wrongful death claim will end with a settlement from the at-fault party or their insurance carrier. Attorneys often get involved quickly to negotiate a settlement after they determine how much compensation their client should receive. These negotiations can take some time, and the at-fault party will likely push back or offer a lower amount. Settlement negotiations can last anywhere from a few months to a year, but even that is no guarantee. There are times when negotiations are extended longer than this, and sometimes, the two sides cannot come to an agreement.

In the event the at-fault party refuses to offer a fair settlement or denies the claim, it may be necessary to file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court. This puts the whole process into the court system, initiates the discovery process, and allows negotiations to continue between both sides while the lawsuit is ongoing. After a lawsuit is filed, the case could settle at any time if a fair compensation amount is agreed upon. However, if the case goes all the way to trial, this could take years after the initial incident occurred.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Orange County?

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 wrongful death claims include:

  • The surviving spouse or domestic partner of the deceased person.
  • Any surviving children.
  • Anyone who “would be entitled to the estate” if there are no other surviving kin. For example, the parents or siblings of the deceased.
  • Stepchildren or other family members are financially dependent on the deceased person.

As you can see, not just anyone can pursue a wrongful death action. There has to be a significant relationship between the deceased and the claimant.

Compensation Available for a Wrongful Death Claim

Family members and the estate of a deceased individual may be able to recover various types of compensation in the event their wrongful death claim is successful in court. This type of compensation is meant to provide closure and financial assistance for the hardships that a family suddenly has to endure and can include a range of economic and non-economic damages, including the following:

Economic damages. Economic damages refer to the more calculable expenses that plaintiffs should be able to receive in these wrongful death claims. This includes expenses that can be easily added up using bills or receipts that come in or by working with financial experts to calculate future expected losses. Some of the main economic damages associated with the California wrongful death claim include:

  • Financial support the deceased would have provided to their family during their lifetime
  • Gifts or benefits the heirs would likely have received had the person lived
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • The reasonable value of household services the decedent would have provided had they lived

Non-economic damages. Non-economic damages refer to the more immeasurable losses that plaintiffs are likely to incur as a result of losing their loved one. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Loss of the deceased’s companionship, comfort, care, protection, and love
  • Loss of consortium for a spouse or partner as a result of their loss of enjoyment of intimacy with the deceased
  • Loss of guidance the deceased would have provided their loved ones had they lived
  • Pain and suffering endured by the deceased after their injury but before their death (as of Jan 1, 2022).

How Much is My Case Worth?

There is no set amount of compensation paid out to family members for a successful wrongful death claim. When working to calculate adequate economic and non-economic damages, an attorney will enlist assistance from economic and medical experts. There are a variety of factors that will be taken into account and presented to the insurance carrier or the personal injury jury when it comes to you calculating proper amounts. These factors include the age, occupation, and education level of the deceased.

Families of deceased individuals who lose their life at a younger age and in their prime of working are more likely to recover greater amounts of compensation than families of individuals who were a bit older and closer to retirement when the death occurred.

Adequately calculating wrongful death compensation is a challenging process because, aside from the calculable expenses mentioned above, the more immeasurable non-economic damages are those irreplaceable losses that are hard to put a dollar value on. The goal is to ensure that family members receive closure for what happened, and compensation can help move that process along.

Four Elements of Negligence for Wrongful Death

In order for a wrongful death claim to be successful in Orange County, there are various elements that must be in place. These elements, which we will describe below, all have to be proven in court, and doing so typically takes an extensive investigation into the incident.

  1. Duty. It must first be established that there was a duty of care in place between the deceased and the defendant (the person alleged to have caused the death). The duty of care will look different depending on the situation at hand for the wrongful death claim. For example, drivers on the roadway all owe a duty of care to others around them, so a wrongful death surrounding a vehicle accident will revolve around the driver’s duty of care. However, property owners owe a different type of duty of care, and this revolves around ensuring that their premises are safe for those who have a right to be there. For wrongful death claims revolving around something like a slip and fall incident, the property owner’s duty of care will be evaluated.
  2. Breach. After establishing that there was a duty of care between the deceased and the defendant, it will need to be shown that the defendant somehow breached their duty of care. For a vehicle accident claim, this could include a person operating their vehicle while distracted or impaired by alcohol or drugs. For a premises liability incident, this could include showing that the defendant failed to inspect or maintain their premises and remedy any known hazards.
  3. Causation. After establishing that there was a breach of duty, it must be shown that the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the injury that led to the death of the deceased.
  4. Damages. Finally, it must be shown that the plaintiffs suffered some sort of monetary loss as a result of the untimely death.

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 Orange County wrongful death attorney’s job is. He or she will help calculate your wrongful death 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 wrongful death lawsuit can make a negligent party accountable for their actions as well as compensate the remaining family members moving forward.

Common Causes of Wrongful Deaths

When another party’s negligence causes a catastrophic accident that leads to your loved one’s death, he or she can be held responsible. Common circumstances that our Orange County personal injury attorneys see are:

California Statute of Limitations

Most states put a time limit on the amount of time you have before filing a wrongful death claim. This is called the statute of limitations, and under California law, 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 a wrongful death lawyer as soon as you are ready to pursue charges.

There are various exceptions related to the California wrongful death statute of limitations. These exceptions revolve around medical malpractice incidents, minors who file a lawsuit, as well as claims against government entities.

  • Medical malpractice wrongful death. In the event a person loses their life due to the negligent actions of a medical professional, the statute of limitations will vary. The time frame is the shorter of the following:
    • One year from the date of discovering that the death was caused by medical malpractice, or
    • Three years from the date of death
  • Minors filing a claim. In the event a minor loses a parent, they are allowed extended timeframes. The wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years from the day the minor turns 18 years of age. 
  • Claims against government entities. Wrongful death claims against a government entity or an employee of the government agency must be filed within six months from the date of death. Some of the most common examples of wrongful death claims against government entities include accidents involving public transportation, accidents involving a government-owned vehicle, or medical malpractice at a publicly operated medical center.

If you believe that an exception applies to you when it comes to your potential wrongful death claim, we encourage you to speak to an attorney who can help you delve through this process. It is crucial to file your claims on time, both with the court system as well as with the insurance carriers.

Death Certificates

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.

Dealing with the Loss of Loved One

Wrongful death suits 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 during this difficult time:

Contact Our Orange County Wrongful Death Lawyers For a Free Consultation

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 negligent or intentional acts. Contact an experienced wrongful death attorney in Orange County today at (714) 783-2205 for a free consultation and see how we can help you and your family through this tragedy.

We serve clients all over Southern California, including Santa Ana, Irvine, Anaheim, Huntington Beach, San Clemente, and Newport Beach. 


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