Losing a loved one because of an avoidable accident or another person’s actions can be devastating. And while nothing can undo your loss, you could have a wrongful death claim to hold the guilty party accountable for the harm they’ve caused.
In central California and the Stockton area, wrongful death cases often come out of traffic or trucking accidents because of the busy transportation corridor that is Interstate 5. This is no surprise, especially since Stockton sits between San Francisco, Sacramento, and Fresno, three major metropolitan areas connected by multiple busy highways.
But wrongful death cases can arise out of any situation, not just traffic accidents. For example, you could file a successful wrongful death claim if:
- Your parent or grandparent passed away because of neglect at an elder care facility,
- You lost a family member in a medical procedure because of medical malpractice, or
- Your loved one was hurt by dangerous conditions on someone else’s property.
A wrongful death lawsuit can help you recover damages from the person responsible. Damages compensate you for your losses, such as your loved one’s medical expenses and the income lost by your family because of their death. In California, a survival action also allows you to recover for your loved one’s pain and suffering before they passed away.
You could have a successful case for both. A local central California wrongful death lawyer can help you navigate your legal options and find the best course forward for your case.
The Most Common Causes of Wrongful Death Cases
Unfortunately, wrongful death can happen at any time and without warning. No matter how much care someone takes in their day-to-day life, another person’s negligent behavior can still strike when they least expect it, leading to devastating losses.
- Car and motorcycle accidents – Even after following all the proper traffic rules, another driver’s careless or reckless actions can cause a major accident.
- Trucking accidents – Because trucks are so much larger and heavier than everything else around them, they can be a huge danger to other vehicles and bystanders. The chance of trucking accidents increases when trucking companies have illegal policies that push their drivers to work long hours on too little rest.
- Bicyclist or pedestrian accidents – Bicyclists and pedestrians are the least protected travelers on the road, which makes them vulnerable to injury from other vehicles.
- Medical malpractice – By a medical provider, medical staff, or a hospital.
- Premises liability – Property owners have a responsibility to keep their premises safe from dangerous conditions for customers, invitees, and even some trespassers.
- Products liability – A defective product could severely injure or kill a person. Millions of individuals rely on manufactured products to maintain their health, such as pacemakers and glucose monitoring devices. Even general consumer products like defective airbags and kitchen appliances can have devastating effects when they malfunction.
You can sue for a loved one’s wrongful death if you’re their spouse, domestic partner, or child. In some cases, parents and step-children could also file for wrongful death.
When you work with a wrongful death lawyer, the first step is to determine and investigate the facts of your loved one’s death. Your lawyer can help you gather the evidence you need to prove your case – whether that means reviewing medical records, requesting documents from nursing homes or hospitals, interviewing witnesses, or visiting the site of an accident.
At Sepulveda Sanchez law, we’ve got you covered. Our experienced wrongful death attorneys can help you build the strongest possible case to get you the recovery your family deserves.
Damages Available in Wrongful Death Actions
If you successfully prove your wrongful death case, your lawyer could negotiate a settlement with the guilty party or petition the court to award you damages.
It’s impossible to completely undo what’s happened, but damages are the law’s way of “making you whole,” as much as possible, through financial compensation.
- Economic damages cover costs like your loved one’s medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, lost benefits such as health insurance, and loss of future income.
- Non-economic damages cover the “human loss,” such as your pain, emotional suffering, and loss of companionship after your loved one’s death.
- If the guilty party acted in a way that was intentional, malicious, or especially offensive, you may even get punitive damages to punish them for their bad behavior.
While losing a loved one is a devastating personal loss, it can also have major financial consequences for you and your family. A wrongful death claim can help relieve the stress of unexpected expenses and the sudden loss of income on your household.
After all, you shouldn’t be the one left paying for someone else’s harm. That responsibility should fall on the guilty party – whether that’s the person who caused the accident, the manufacturer of the defective product, the medical staff who failed to give proper care, or the landlord who allowed their property to fall into disrepair. Even city governments could be held liable for failing to maintain roads and sidewalks up to safety standards.
California Survival Actions
In California, you can also file a survival action on behalf of your deceased loved one, where you essentially assume the rights that they would’ve had to sue. That means you can recover damages for your loved one’s pain, suffering, or disfigurement before their death.
In addition, a survival action allows you to recover:
- Medical expenses between the time of your loved one’s injury and their death,
- Property damage related to your loved one’s injury or accident,
- Any income lost because your loved one was unable to work after their injury, and
- Punitive damages to punish the guilty party for their reckless or willful behavior.
Both wrongful death and survival claims have statutes of limitations, which means you have only a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit before you lose your chance. Depending on the situation, you may have as little as 6 months or a maximum of 3 years. So it’s important to talk to a lawyer near you as soon as possible about your case.
At Sepulveda Sanchez Law, your consultation is free and we work on a contingency basis, which means you don’t pay us until we recover for you. Our entire office is bilingual in Spanish and English. Contact us now to speak to an experienced wrongful death lawyer who serves Stockton and the entire central California San Joaquin Valley.