Daniels Law

Wrongful Death Settlements: When Are You Entitled to One?

July 18, 2023 · Personal Injury

Each year, many wrongful deaths occur. However, people end up too mired in grief to realize that they could do something, and wrongful death claims go un-filed. Grieving families don't get the help they deserve and need to struggle with funeral expenses and adjusting to life without their loved one.

We are writing this article with the hopes of informing those families that they can do something.

In this article, we'll explain what constitutes a wrongful death and what a wrongful death lawsuit is. We'll also explain how long the statute of limitations is, how to file a wrongful death claim, and finding a lawyer.

If you're ready to find out how you can receive help for the loss of a loved one, all you need to do is keep reading.

What Is a Wrongful Death?

Typically, there are two main elements of wrongful death: negligence or actions that led to the death. There are many common types of wrongful death that might make it to court.

A common cause of wrongful death is vehicular accidents. Human error and negligence are the cause of many car accidents. Car accidents that result in the death of a person are no different.

Other causes include defects in property, airplane crashes and boating collisions.

The desire to cut corners is often one of the biggest wrongful death elements. Cutting corners leads to willful negligence.

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit happens when you file a claim for wrongful death against another party. You can typically do this when you can prove the death of your loved one is a result of negligence.

In many cases, only the spouse of the deceased or immediate family members of the deceased can file wrongful death claims.

Wrongful death lawsuits are similar to personal injury lawsuits for one big reason: they result from the negligence of another person.

In both cases, you will need to prove that another party was at fault. Proving that someone was negligent and it led to the death of a loved one is easier said than done.

This is why you should prepare yourself to fight to win your case in court. It's a grueling process, but you may find it worthwhile to hold someone responsible for the death of your loved one.

When Do You Have a Wrongful Death Case?

Typically, you have a wrongful death case when you can prove that someone was at fault for the death of your loved one. There are more ways to do this than you might think- you can even sue for wrongful death caused by wildfire.

If your loved one died in an accident of some sort and you think you might have a wrongful death claim, it's always best to consult with a lawyer. They'll be able to inform you if you have a chance at a case or not.

While a wrongful death case won't bring your loved ones back, it will help you recover from the loss. You may get damages for the wages lost by the death of your loved one. You may even get compensation for the emotional and physical suffering you've gone through since then.

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death

The statute of limitations for wrongful death varies from state to state. In some states, it can be as little as one year, while in other states it can be as long as three years.

The California wrongful death statute of limitations falls right in the middle. You generally have two years from the date of your loved one's demise to file a wrongful death claim.

In some cases, you can push for an extension of the wrongful death statutes. One such case where you can get this deadline extended is the "discovery rule".

Essentially, if the statute of limitations would unreasonably invalidate the time it took to discover the death was wrongful, then the limitations period changes.

This is to provide grieving families with a better chance to win their case.

The Process of Filing Wrongful Death Claims

If you have decided you have cause to file a wrongful death lawsuit and you're within the statute of limitations, you can start by filing the necessary documents.

You'll need to file a complaint or a petition. This petition must include the facts of the death, as well as your legal grounds for a lawsuit.

At the same time you file a petition, you need to file a summons. This is a document notifying the other party that they are being sued and which court will hear the lawsuit.

After you have filed the petition and summons, those documents need to be provided to all parties. This is what's called "service of process".

Each state has its own rules about how the service of process must be conducted. In some cases, these rules vary from county to county!

What to Know About a Wrongful Death Suit

In any wrongful death suit, there are a few things that you need to prepare yourself for. It's not an easy process.

The first thing you need to know is that your loved one's death will be investigated. This investigation will be done by an unbiased party. You may be interviewed so they can know more about how the death happened.

The second thing you need to know is that wrongful death cases don't always go to court. The legal process will involve mediation, demands on both sides, and maybe a settlement.

This settlement offered to you might not be fair. When pursuing a wrongful death claim, it's important that you have a lawyer on hand. A lawyer will be able to help you with the legal process and obtain a fair settlement.

Finding Lawyers for Wrongful Death

When choosing a California wrongful death lawyer, there are always several factors that you should consider.

The first of these factors is that experience is important. You want someone who has plenty of experience with wrongful deaths. The more experience a lawyer has, the better the chance is that they will be able to help you.

Next, you want an attorney who has a great reputation within your community. Ask your friends or family for referrals and examine online reviews. Research the attorney to make sure they've never been accused of misconduct.

Finally, try to interview the lawyer you're thinking of before making any binding deals. See if you like them and have a good feeling about them. In addition, see if there is any advice they can offer you.

Proving Liability

When it comes to proving liability, there are two types of liability.

The first type is absolute liability. This is a liability standard that does not require intent to be considered a crime. Instead, the court can reach a decision by proving the act was committed.

The second type of liability is known as strict liability. It's similar to, but not the same as absolute liability. Namely, there are specific defenses that you can only use with strict liability.

Strict liability is when the defendant is liable for the damage caused, whether negligence was present or not. Strict liability also does not rely on if intent was present. For example, if a product injured someone, the seller or manufacturer would be responsible regardless of intent.

Can You Expect a Settlement?

While you may not always go to court for your wrongful death lawsuit, in many cases you can expect a settlement.

If you settle in court, then the court will decide what a reasonable amount should be. However, your lawyer might also help you negotiate a settlement outside of court. Your attorney will help you make sure that this is a fair settlement.

Generally, an average wrongful death settlement will be for the lost wages that your loved one once earned. However, in some cases, you may also be able to earn a settlement for emotional damages for wrongful death.

This settlement is meant to help you recover from the loss. You can use this money to pay for bills or your loved one's funeral.

Although the amount might vary, wrongful death lawsuit settlements average around half a million dollars.

When asking yourself "How are wrongful death settlements paid out", you may want to know there are two main ways. The first is a lump-sum settlement where you get everything at once. The second is a structured settlement of a series of payments.

Reach Out to Us

Now that you know all about wrongful death claims, you know where to start in this arduous process.

However, if you have more questions or concerns, then you should reach out to us. All you need to do is fill out the form and we'll contact you with an answer as soon as possible.

Don't wait – reach out to Daniels Law today. Let us give you the help that you deserve.

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