Wrongful death in California is if someone dies as the result of the negligence or wrongful act of another person or an entity. A wrongful death lawsuit can follow a fatal car accident, workplace incident, medical procedure, animal attack, slip and fall, elevator/escalator accident, poisoning, accidental drowning, act of violence, as well as many other situations.
If you recently lost a loved one in preventable circumstances, your family could be eligible for significant financial compensation. At Henshaw & Henry, our San Jose wrongful death lawyers know money can’t make up for the loss of your family member. It can, however, safeguard your family’s future and give your family closure.
There are thousands of reasons someone may bring a wrongful death against someone else. Freak accidents, negligence, and criminal acts committed by other parties can be causes for wrongful death suits. Common causes for such suits in California include:
• Drunk driving
• Negligent driving
• Failure to maintain safe premises
• Medical malpractice
• Unsafe products
• Toxic substance
• Work-related deaths
The California statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death suit is two years from the time of death. It’s important to note the statute applies to date of death, not date of original injury leading to death. Once the statute of limitations has passed, it is possible to make a case, but it does make it less likely that the court will hear the case.
One must pay careful attention to the statute of limitations in California wrongful death claims. It is a very important deadline that may vary depending on the specifics of your case. To avoid missing your deadline in San Jose, work with a San Jose wrongful death lawyer. Although in general a plaintiff has two years from the date of death, at least three deadlines may apply to California wrongful death claims:
Don’t assume you’ve missed your statute of limitations. Always speak to a qualified San Jose wrongful death attorney about your specific deadline if you wish to file a California wrongful death claim. The courts may make exceptions to the rule in special cases, such as those involving minor children as plaintiffs. A conversation with our firm can help clarify your actual deadline to file.
Wrongful death cases are created when an individual has died. The ensuing compensation can include estimated wages lost for average lifespan, and medical and funeral costs. California Survival Actions include compensation for losses between the time of the victim’s injuries and the victim’s time of death. You can seek compensation for ambulance fees, medical expenses, and loss of earnings that occur during that period. California law does not allow compensation for pain or suffering of the victim during this time, unless the death was due to abuse or neglect.
The San Jose wrongful death attorneys at Henshaw & Henry, PC are here to help you navigate the complex wrongful death laws in California and the City of San Jose, specifically. We know, however, that you have many pressing questions regarding your loved one’s recent passing. When you request a free consultation with us, you’ll meet with one of our lawyers or discuss your claim over the phone to get more in-depth information about your specific case. In the meantime, we hope this FAQ section will be of some assistance:
In California, the deceased person’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, anyone entitled to the property of the deceased person, or anyone financially dependent on the deceased person may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
You must bring your claim with the county courts within two years of the date of your loved one’s death. Missing the statute of limitations means a strong chance of the courts refusing to hear your case.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death, you and your family could be eligible to recover funeral and burial costs, losses your deceased loved one endured prior to death, financial losses, medical bills, loss of consortium, and loss of your loved one’s future earnings.
All deaths are difficult, but when your loved one dies due to the negligence of another, you need the help of a qualified wrongful death attorney. Depending on the situation surrounding the death, your family may be eligible for financial compensation from the negligent party or their insurers.
To receive compensation for wrongful death in California, the plaintiff must first prove the death occurred because of someone else’s actions. California wrongful death law requires the plaintiff to prove the following elements after someone’s death:
These required elements apply no matter the cause of death, be it medical malpractice, occupational exposure, or criminal activity.
Since such cases are civil claims, a wrongful death only requires the preponderance of the evidence. Prepondeance of the evidence is the understanding that the events most likely occurred in a certain way. This is a less strict requirement than proving a crime was committed in criminal cases, which require guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. As such, a criminal court could acquit someone of murder or manslaughter, but he or she could still be liable for wrongful death in a civil case.
Only those with a relation to the deceased may attempt to seek compensation for wrongful death. The list includes the deceased’s spouse, domestic partner, children, stepchildren, parents, or those entitled to the property of the deceased.
Like a personal injury claim, a wrongful death claim has a statute of limitations. California law requires the deceased’s family to file a claim within two years of the death to be eligible for compensation.
Wrongful death can come in many forms, and as such, has differing laws. A homicide refers to any killing of humans. Murder, manslaughter, wrongful death, and justified self-defense are all forms of homicide.
Wrongful death can apply to any case where one person’s actions resulted in the death of another, either through negligence or malicious intent. It is a type of civil case, even if the action which resulted in death was criminal. Wrongful death cases have less strict evidence requirements than criminal cases.
Illegal homicide falls into two main categories: murder and manslaughter. Murder applies to situations where the defendant intended to cause death to the victim. First-degree murders involve premeditation on the defendant’s part and have more severe consequences.
Manslaughter refers to cases where premeditation did not occur before the death. Voluntary manslaughter cases are often crimes of passion and require prosecution to prove that homicide occurred during an argument or in the “heat of the moment.” These crimes often involve an event that serves as provocation, such as mutual combat, murder or harm of a family member, or adultery committed by a spouse.
Involuntary manslaughter cases involve unintentional homicide in either legal or illegal activities. Car accidents, a lack of intent to commit the crime that resulted in death, and self-defense are all types of involuntary manslaughter.
Self-defense is a legal form of homicide, so long as the force used was equivalent to the force the individual was facing. California law requires individuals to prioritize retreat from danger over retaliation, but they do recognize the “castle doctrine,” allowing for defense to take place on one’s own property. This doctrine also applies to defense of one’s property, so long as the defense takes place on the property and not outside it.
Besides having different requirements for evidence laws, the different categories of homicide have different legal consequences. Both types of murder have harsher consequences than manslaughter. Likewise, those who commit first-degree murder face longer sentences than those who commit second, and a similar scaling applies to voluntary vs. involuntary manslaughter. When proven, cases of self-defense result in acquittal.
If you believe you have grounds to file a wrongful death claim in San Jose, begin the process immediately. Waiting too long can expose you to risks such as losing key evidence or missing your statute of limitations. The filing process can be long and complicated, but a qualified San Jose wrongful death attorney can help. Here are the steps to take to file your claim:
Henshaw & Henry, PC can help you with every step of the wrongful death claims process. We’ll navigate California’s complex laws in a way that benefits you and your family the most.
At Henshaw & Henry, PC, we differ from our competition because we do not funnel clients through paralegals or other staff members. We connect them with attorneys who have knowledge and experience handling wrongful death claims in California. It is the attorneys who understand the law and who interact with judges and juries, not paralegals. We let you communicate directly with lawyers for prompt, accurate answers to your most important questions and concerns.
Our lawyers represent wrongful death clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Jose, Santa Clara County, Alameda County, Santa Cruz County, Contra Costa County, San Mateo County, Milpitas, Sunnyvale, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Mountain View, Cupertino, Fremont, Union City, Pleasanton, Menlo Park, Redwood City, Hayward, Castro Valley, Oakland, and San Leandro. To schedule your free case evaluation, call (408) 533-1075 or contact us online.