Pleasanton Wrongful Death Lawyers
Wrongful Death Information
If you've recently lost a spouse, child, or other close relative in
an accident or illness, and you believe that some other person or company
might have been responsible (or partly responsible) for what happened,
you may sue that liable party in court for "wrongful death."
This article will introduce key concepts about this kind of legal action
and connect you with a crucial resource to provide you with personalized help.
Wrongful Death Basics
Whether the person who killed your relative or loved one meant to inflict
injury or not is not relevant. As long as the person or institution acted
in a careless, reckless, or negligent manner - or intended to cause your
relative harm - you may be able to bring a wrongful death action. For
instance, say a truck driver talking on his CB failed to watch the road;
as a result, he sideswiped a motorcyclist and caused the biker's death.
Although the trucker clearly did not intend to cause any harm, he acted
negligently; therefore, the motorcyclist's survivors could bring a suit.
If the person who caused the death faces criminal charges, you don't
lose your right to a wrongful death suit. For instance, say a gang member
killed your son in a late night fight at a club. The murderer will face
a serious criminal trial brought by the state or federal government. But
you can separately bring a
wrongful death action against the assailant in civil court.
In civil court, your burden of proof is much lower. In a criminal case,
for instance, prosecutors need to show the defendant's guilt "beyond
a reasonable doubt"; whereas, in a civil case, prosecutors merely
need to show the defendant's guilt beyond "a preponderance of
wrongful death damages you might seek can include financial damages, such as money to make up
for the deceased's lost income and medical/retirement benefits. You
also can collect non-economic damages for things like pain, suffering
and anguish; loss of companionship and consort; and loss of guidance and
nurturing. Lastly, in certain situations, you can sue for punitive damages
for exceptionally aggressive, negligent, or careless actions.
The universe of potential defendants in a wrongful death action may be
bigger than you might realize. Obviously, the person most immediately
responsible for the death (or injury that led to the death) should be
evaluated as a potential defendant. But other parties may be sued as well
- even for only contributing in a minor way to the accident. For instance,
let's reconsider the truck driver example above. Say the truck's
braking system failed during the accident. If that happened, then, in
addition to suing the trucker, you might also sue the company responsible
for maintaining the truck's braking system in good working order.
Given all the "moving parts" and complications of the typical
wrongful death action, it's generally recommended that victims work
closely with reliable and experienced wrongful death attorneys. The law
firm of Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP can help you. Call (800) 900-0863
to set up your