Representing Families in Orange County Wrongful Death Claims
When an individual suffers an injury due to the negligence of another party, the injured victim has the right to file a personal injury claim against those responsible for their damages. Unfortunately, not every victim survives their personal injuries. Therefore, if you have recently lost a loved one due to another party’s negligence, a wrongful death claim functionally replaces the personal injury claim the victim could have filed had they survived.
An Orange County wrongful death attorney is the best asset you and your family can have in this type of distressing situation. Chris and Frank have the resources and experience you need to approach the most complicated wrongful death claims with confidence. We know how devastating it can be for any family to lose a loved one due to another party’s negligence. If you are struggling to determine your best legal options after losing someone you loved due to another party’s negligence, Chris and Frank can provide the legal counsel you and your family need during this challenging time.
Why Should I Hire an Orange County Wrongful Death Attorney?
If someone caused the death of your loved one due to negligence or recklessness, it might seem like you can handle holding them accountable on your own without investing in the services of an Orange County wrongful death lawyer. However, even if fault for your loved one’s death seems clear, it’s essential to understand the elements of a wrongful death claim and the invaluable role an experienced attorney can play in helping your family hold the responsible party accountable for their actions.
If you do not hire an attorney, you and your loved ones face an arduous path through your wrongful death claim. You would not only need to navigate complex legal statutes and meet demanding procedural requirements with the Orange County court system but do so while struggling with your grief and the financial aftermath of the unexpected death in the family. Having a dependable legal team on your side during this situation is a valuable asset, and Chris and Frank can provide the comprehensive and compassionate legal representation you and your loved ones need after experiencing a wrongful death.
How Do Attorneys Prove Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death claim shares many procedural and technical similarities with a personal injury claim. Both types of civil claims hinge on the legal concept of negligence or one party’s failure to act with reasonable care in a given situation. It is also possible to file a wrongful death claim if your loved one died due to the intentional actions of another party. When it comes to proving wrongful death from negligence, the plaintiff and their Orange County wrongful death lawyer have to demonstrate four critical elements of wrongful death:
- The defendant owed a duty of care in the situation in question. For example, drivers have a duty of care to refrain from operating their vehicles while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. The plaintiff must positively identify the defendant in the wrongful death claim and explain the duty of care in the situation in question.
- The defendant breached this duty of care in some way. The plaintiff and their attorney must prove that the defendant failed to uphold their duty of care. Following the previous example, driving a vehicle while intoxicated with any substance would breach the duty of care.
- The defendant’s breach of duty caused damage to the plaintiff. In a wrongful death claim, the damages include the death in question and the economic losses associated with the untimely death.
- The plaintiff’s damages would not have occurred but for the defendant’s negligence. Proving causation can be more difficult in some wrongful death claims than others. Your Orange County wrongful death lawyer will help you establish causation between the defendant’s negligence and the death of your loved one.
Successfully proving these four elements of negligence is critical for winning any wrongful death claim. In the event you lost a loved one due to another party’s intentional actions, you would need to establish slightly different factors:
- The defendant intended to commit the harmful act in question. Examples could include an armed robbery, an assault, or abuse of an elderly patient in a nursing home.
- The defendant made non-consensual contact with the victim. You and your attorney must prove that the defendant followed through with their intent. For example, they intended to rob your loved one using a firearm, and they followed through with the robbery.
- The defendant’s contact caused the death in question. It’s possible for intentional harm to directly cause a wrongful death immediately, but it is also possible for the victim to succumb to their injuries after some time.
If a defendant caused a wrongful death by committing any criminal act, or if they intended to cause harm to the victim but did not necessarily intend to cause the victim’s death, they are likely to face criminal prosecution in addition to civil liability for the wrongful death.
Common Causes of California Wrongful Death Injury Cases
Wrongful deaths, unfortunately, occur every day in the United States. If you recently lost a loved one due to another party’s actions, you may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim against them. A few of the most commonly reported causes of wrongful deaths in Orange County include:
- Motor vehicle accidents. Motor vehicle crashes have been a leading cause of accidental injuries and deaths throughout the United States for many years. For example, suppose you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of a driver. In that case, insurance coverage may only provide minimal compensation for the resulting losses, and you will need to take additional legal action to hold the at-fault party fully accountable for the death in your family.
- Medical malpractice. Negligence during medical procedures is one of the most commonly cited causes of wrongful death in the United States. If your loved one died due to ineffective, substandard, or incompetently administered medical treatment, you could file a wrongful death claim against the medical professional responsible. California state law limits pain and suffering compensation in medical malpractice claims to $250,000.
- Slip and fall injuries. Premises liability laws state that a property owner is strictly liable for any damages resulting from foreseeable safety hazards on their property. If your loved one slipped, fell, and sustained a fatal injury, your Orange County wrongful death lawyer can help you hold them accountable.
- Workplace accidents. Every year, thousands of Americans sustain fatal injuries while performing their job duties. Suppose your loved one passed away from a workplace accident. In that case, the California workers’ compensation system may offer some financial compensation for medical expenses and lost income. An Orange County wrongful death attorney can help you and your family explore additional legal actions if necessary.
- Intentional acts of violence. When a person causes the death of someone else through an intentional action or while committing a crime, the at-fault party will face civil liability for wrongful death and criminal prosecution for their actions. In addition, causing the death of another person will dramatically increase the penalties for many criminal actions, such as driving under the influence (DUI), robbery, and assault.
- Defective products. Whenever a manufacturer releases an unreasonably dangerous or defective product, the manufacturer is liable for all damages sustained by the product’s users. For example, if a defective product killed your loved one, your attorney could help you file a product liability claim against the manufacturer for wrongful death.
- Dangerous drugs. Doctors must use care when prescribing drugs, and pharmacists must ensure they fill prescriptions accurately. Some drugs are dangerous for certain patients and may interact in deadly ways with other drugs. If your loved one died because of a dangerous drug or drug interaction, this could lead to a product liability claim or medical malpractice claim for wrongful death.
This is not an exhaustive list of all the ways wrongful deaths may occur. For example, suppose you are unsure whether a recent death in your family qualifies as a wrongful death. In that case, it’s vital to consult an Orange County wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to determine your best legal options in this type of difficult situation.
Eligibility for Filing Wrongful Death Claims in California
California state law follows the rule of intestate succession when determining who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim. Essentially, this means that anyone who would have a valid claim on the deceased’s estate through intestate succession can potentially file a wrongful death claim in Orange County. The decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner is typically first in line for the right to pursue a wrongful death action, followed by a parent or adult child. Next, siblings and other extended family would follow if the deceased had no immediate family, followed by anyone financially dependent on the deceased or anyone who could prove a valid legal claim on the contents of the deceased’s estate.
How Much Is a Wrongful Death Case Worth in California?
Money cannot replace a lost loved one, but the financial compensation you and your loved ones secure through a wrongful death claim can help you overcome the economic strain the untimely death has presented for your family. Some of the most commonly cited damages in wrongful death claims include:
- Funeral and burial expenses in keeping with the deceased’s preferred arrangements, within reason.
- Loss of the deceased’s anticipated future income. This may require complex calculations of anticipated life expectancy, inflation, and various other economic variables.
- Loss of the financial support provided by the deceased.
- Loss of the household services the deceased provided to their family.
- Pain and suffering of the family, including the loss of love, comfort, affection, guidance, companionship, protection, and spiritual support.
It is important to note that the damages available in a wrongful death claim compensation for the surviving family’s losses. If the deceased’s estate incurred losses, the family might also pursue a survival action in tandem with their wrongful death claim. Survival actions seek compensation for damages to the deceased’s estate, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage sustained between the incident that caused the death and the wrongful death itself. For example, suppose the deceased was struck by a drunk driver and spent weeks in intensive care before succumbing to their injuries. In that case, they may have incurred thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost several weeks of income during this time. Additionally, while a survival action does not allow for the collection of compensation for the deceased’s pain and suffering, it can provide punitive damages depending on how the defendant caused the wrongful death.
What to Expect From Wrongful Death Lawyers
Facing a wrongful death claim can be an incredibly stressful and emotionally challenging situation for you and your family, and you need reliable legal support from an Orange County wrongful death lawyer you can trust in this situation. The team at Chris and Frank can offer compassionate and responsive legal representation through every phase of your Orange County wrongful death claim. We know how devastating the untimely death of a loved one is for any family and will do everything we can to hold the responsible party accountable on your behalf.
Success with a wrongful death claim may require establishing the defendant’s negligence, uncovering material evidence, and gathering statements from eyewitnesses who saw the fatal event occur in real time. It may also be necessary to consult expert witnesses to establish causation between the defendant’s behavior and the wrongful death in question. When you choose Chris and Frank as your Orange County wrongful death lawyers, we will do everything we can to manage your case as efficiently as possible so you and your loved ones can grieve in peace with the assurance that we can hold the party responsible for the untimely death accountable for their actions.
Talk to Wrongful Death Attorneys About a Personal Injury Claim
If you have lost a loved one in Orange County due to the negligence of another party, we can help you navigate your wrongful death claim. Contact Chris and Frank today to schedule your consultation with our team and find out how our firm can assist in your family’s recovery.
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