Losing a loved one to a fatal accident is devastating––and finding the strength to move forward may feel impossible. In addition, finding out that another party’s negligence caused their passing can add weight to your emotions.
However, there are steps that you can take to protect your family’s financial future and get justice for your loved one’s passing. Our wrongful death lawyers at Nadrich & Cohen have represented surviving family members for over 30 years. A Santa Rosa wrongful death lawyer from our firm can fight for compensation while you grieve in peace.
What Constitutes Wrongful Death In California?
Wrongful death is a death caused by someone else’s neglect or wrongful act. If someone else’s negligence caused your loved one’s passing, whether intentional or not, they can face liability. Wrongful death claims attempt to compensate surviving family members for their financial losses following their loved one’s passing.
Some situations that can give rise to wrongful death lawsuits include:
- Vehicular Accidents
- Medical Malpractice
- Premises Liability
- Defective Products
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Workplace accidents
If you suspect someone else was to blame for your loved one’s passing, our attorneys can help you get justice by bringing a wrongful death action. We can prove negligence, the cost of your damages, and your case’s other relevant aspects.
Who Is Eligible To Pursue A Wrongful Death Claim In Santa Rosa?
California statutes only allow eligible immediate family members or the decedent’s personal representative to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Eligible family members under California law include the decedent’s:
- Surviving spouse
- Domestic partner
- Grandchild(ren) (if the decedent’s children have also passed away)
- A beneficiary of the decedent’s property through intestate succession
- Other minor children who were dependent on the decedent for at least 50% of their financial support
A wrongful death suit can be brought against individuals already facing criminal charges and can proceed whether or not the individual is found guilty. When you connect with Nadrich & Cohen, we can evaluate your case’s potential and advise you on your legal options.
Time Limits For Filing A Wrongful Death Lawsuit
You generally have two years following the passing of the deceased person to file wrongful death lawsuits. After this time, your case will no longer be valid in the eyes of the court, and you will forfeit your right to compensation. Therefore, acting fast is crucial if you’re considering a wrongful death case.
The statute of limitations isn’t your case’s only time-sensitive aspect. Some evidence relevant to your case may not last long. For instance, witnesses from the accident scene may forget certain details. If your loved one passed away in a collision, footage of the accident could get deleted.
You want as much supporting evidence as necessary to bolster your case. You also want to build your case in accordance with the state’s deadline to protect your rights.
Compensable Wrongful Death Damages In Your Santa Rosa Case
Our attorneys can assist with valuing the deceased’s estate, calculating your damages, and determining the amount that will sufficiently cover your expenses.
You may be entitled to damages such as:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of financial support from the decedent
- Compensation for the decedent’s lost earnings
- Loss of household services
- Loss of companionship
You may recover additional losses than those listed here. Your compensable losses all depend on your situation, including the cause of your loved one’s passing and their role in your household.
How Is Wrongful Death Compensation Divided?
Sometimes cases involve multiple claimants who have standing to file wrongful death claims. In these cases, juries in California will usually award damages as lump sums no mater how many individuals make a claim for compensation. As an example, when decedents leave spouses and multiple dependents or children, juries will award lump sum amounts to entire families, and families are responsible for dividing payment between themselves. Damages get calculated based upon standard calculations for compensation which are adopted by courts.
When claimants can’t agree upon how to divide awards, they can ask courts to do so for them. In cases which are especially difficult where every claimant is in agreement, along with the consent of the judge, juries may be instructed to decide on individual awards for every claimant. This can be useful when strong potential regarding disagreement about allocation of awards exists. As an example, family members might have complicated relationships with one another, and claimants might prefer neutral arbiters in this case.
What An Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney At Nadrich & Cohen Can Do For You
A wrongful death case is a big undertaking––especially if you’re unfamiliar with the legal process. Yet, our wrongful death team has years of experience building and managing cases involving wrongful deaths like yours. We’re prepared to advocate for you by:
Managing Your Case On A Contingency-Fee Basis
It costs you nothing out of pocket to partner with our wrongful death lawyers serving Santa Rosa. We’ve always served grieving families on a contingency-fee basis. This means we don’t charge by the hour or ask for retainers.
A portion of your wrongful death settlement will pay for our time, efforts, and services. This arrangement allows everyone to seek legal help regardless of their financial resources.
Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers
Representing You In All Case-Related Communications
Our attorneys will represent you in all communications involving your case. This involves negotiating with insurers, requesting certain documents, and speaking with the claims adjuster. Now, you deserve to focus on your health, family, and well-being. We will serve as your advocate during all case-related proceedings.
Determining liability is the foundation of a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. We must establish who was responsible and support this claim with solid evidence, such as:
- The police report (if available)
- Your loved one’s death certificate
- Eyewitness testimony
- Information from field consultants
- Your loved one’s medical records
- Invoices and receipts related to your damages
With the information we find, we aim to prove that because another party’s negligence caused your loved one’s passing, your family deserves damages.
While there is a chance that your case will go to trial, many wrongful death cases are settled out of court. Our attorneys are prepared to negotiate with the other party. If a settlement is not reached, our attorneys are also prepared to fully and adequately litigate your case.
Even at a terrible moment like after losing your loved one, insurance companies as well as other parties will usually do whatever they can to settle your wrongful death claim for the lowest amount of money possible. The last thing they want is a lawyer getting involved after a fatal accident occurred.
Insurers will typically provide you with a low ball offer when you’re in your most vulnerable state, hoping you’ll accept a settlement as quickly as you can without thinking about your claim’s full value.
However, your Santa Rosa wrongful death law firm will make sure that you are heard from. We will handle all communications and negotiations with insurance companies for you so you can grieve freely without having to worry about it.
We will also investigate all circumstances regarding your loved one’s death. Gathering witness testimony and evidence is most effective when done as quickly after a death as possible.
Proving Wrongful Death Claims In Santa Rosa
Prior to recovering compensation for the death of your loved one, you or your lawyer will need to prove that a wrongful death happened. This generally requires evidence of someone’s negligence, and that said negligence caused the death of your loved one. You won’t have to prove that a defendant attempted to kill or even meant to hurt your loved one. Rather, proving wrongful death rests upon the legal concept of negligence.
Negligence is failing to exercise reasonable care in order to prevent harm from occurring. In order to prove that wrongful death occurred, your lawyer will need to prove four elements of negligence:
- A duty of care was owed: Defendants must have owed a duty to exercise a reasonable amount of care to your loved one. The responsibilities that the defendant will have owed your loved one will depend upon the relationship between the defendant and your loved one. Friends who give medical advice, as an example, will possses differing duties of care when compared with medical professionals.
- A duty of care was violated or breached: There needs to be proof that a defendant breached their duty of care. Breaches can refer to omissions or actions which fall outside of defendants’ duty of care. If a reasonable person would have acted differently, a defendant might have breached their duty of care.
- An injury or accident was caused: The carelessness or misconduct of the defendant needs to have actually caused your loved one’s fatal injury. Your attorney will have to prove that it is more likely than it is not likely that your loved one’s death wouldn’t have happened if the defendant obeyed their duty of care.
- Damages were incurred: Your family will have to prove that the negligence on behalf of the defendant led to compensable losses. Your attorney can assist you with listing all damages which were caused by the death of your loved one, like medical bills, lost wages, property damages, mental anguish and funeral expenses.
Basically, if a defendant acted in a way that reasonable people wouldn’t have, that defendant will end up being liable for the death of your loved one. Working with a Santa Rosa wrongful death attorney at Nadrich & Cohen can make it less difficult for your family to eventually prove that negligence occurred and fulfill California’s burden of proof. Your attorney can explain to you the duty of care that a defendant owed your loved one, gather evidence that wrongdoing occurred, and show causation to a jury or judge. We have the resources and experience you require to build a strong wrongful death case in Santa Rosa.
How Do Survival Actions Differ From Wrongful Death Claims?
In wrongful death claims, families are compensated for losses. In survival actions, decedents’ estates are allowed to recover compensation for damages or injuries that a decedent suffered immediately before they died.
In California, plaintiffs can recover damages covering the damage or loss sustained by a decedent before death, including exemplary damages, punitive damage or penalties that decedents would have been able to recover had they lived. These damages don’t include damages for disfigurement, suffering or pain.
Put another way, survival actions let plaintiffs recover damages which their loved ones would have been able to recover if they survived an incident, damages such as medical expenses or lost wages. Survival actions don’t allow for claims for pain and suffering. They do, though, allow for claims for punitive damages, which are damages intended to punish wrongdoers for negligence and deter others from behaving similarly.
We’ve Achieved Favorable Outcomes For California Wrongful Death Claimants
We want you to feel confident in our commitment to your case. We believe that the previous results we’ve secured for clients attest to that. Here are two cases in which we recovered damages for wrongful death claimants:
- Our client lost a loved one in a horseback riding accident. We secured $900,000 after proving negligence.
- Our client came to us after losing a loved one in a pedestrian accident. We recovered $750,000 for their losses.
Speak To A Santa Rosa Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
After experiencing family tragedy, it may be difficult to focus on legal action as you attempt to emotionally heal. Having a lawyer’s support gives you additional time to cope and allows you to get objective advice which can help you make superior decisions. In addition, wrongful death cases can lead to complications, and an attorney will fight to protect your rights. As far as compensation is concerned, you can depend upon your lawyer to valuate damages, investigate your case, perform negotiations with insurance companies, and make sure your claim is filed before any deadlines.
We extend our deepest condolences if you recently lost a loved one. We know what you’re going through, and more importantly, we want to help. The team at Nadrich & Cohen can pursue compensation for your hardships, so you can start rebuilding your life. To start a free case review and discuss your case, call today.