Sunnyvale Wrongful Death FAQs

Unfortunately, the number of wrongful deaths in Northern California is unacceptably high and loss of life can occur in many forms: vehicular accidents, worksite injuries, intentional crime, or even dog bites or drowning incidents. Many times, a death is the direct result of negligence, the principal basis for a wrongful death suit.

Wrongful death claims can often be complicated. Please review our FAQs below or contact a wrongful death attorney to discuss your case.

How can I start the process after a wrongful death occurs? Who is allowed to file a lawsuit?

If you believe you may have a legal case following the death of a loved one, it is strongly advised that you contact a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. The basic process usually begins with the filing of a lawsuit but there is almost always a fair amount of investigation and collecting of evidence that must be done prior to filing suit.

In a majority of cases, a member of the decedent’s family will bring the lawsuit. California law allows most relatives to bring the lawsuit including spouses, children, step-children, parents, financial dependents, domestic partners, and step-children. The lawsuit is filed against the party or parties completely or partially responsible for the death.


What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit?

The statute of limitations in California for bringing a wrongful death suit is two years. In most cases, the clock begins running on the date of death. For example, if a man was killed in an automobile accident on January 1, 2012, the wrongful death lawsuit would likely need to be filed by January 1, 2014.

The rules change slightly if the wrongful death occurred because of asbestos or medical malpractice. For an asbestos case, the statute of limitations is one year from the date of death or one year from the date the Plaintiff knew or should have known the death was caused by asbestos exposure. In all asbestos cases, the later of the two dates is operative. Medical malpractice suits are governed by a different set of rules. A Plaintiff generally has three years from the date of death to file suit or one year from the date Plaintiff discovers the wrongful death was the result of medical malpractice, whichever occurs first.

Regardless of your case, it is important to file your lawsuit as soon as possible after the accident to avoid losing crucial evidence and to maximize the effectiveness of your case. Contact an experienced wrongful death attorney at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP today to discuss your case and ensure your rights are protected.


What kind of damages can be sought in a wrongful death case?

There are a variety of compensatory damages that can be sought in a wrongful death case. Damages compensate for both expenses relating to the death and for emotional or mental injury. Compensatory damages for expenses include funeral costs, loss of services and support, and loss of financial contribution among others. Damages for emotional injury often take the form of loss of companionship and consortium and emotional stress. If the Plaintiff witnessed the loved one’s death, he or she may be able to bring a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim which awards monetary damages.

An offshoot of a wrongful death claim is a survival action. A survival action is a claim the decedent would have had if he or she were alive. This claim is passed on to the decedent’s estate and thus anyone entitled to take under the decedent’s estate may bring a survival action. The damages available in a survival action include lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and even punitive damages.


How much does hiring a wrongful death lawyer cost?

Attorney€™s fees vary from one lawyer to the next but at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP, you are not charged until we recover damages in a settlement or judgment for you. Our experienced personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means that our fees are deducted directly out of the settlement or judgment at the end of the case. You will not have to worry about an expensive retainer or any up-front costs. Upon receiving your settlement, we deduct a previously agreed-upon percentage of the total settlement amount (usually 33-40 percent) which acts as the attorney’s fee. If we are unable to win your case or get you compensation, you are not responsible for any attorney’s fees.


Can I file a wrongful death suit on my own?

Any qualified individual (i.e. relative of the decedent) may file a wrongful death lawsuit but doing so without legal representation is risky and not advised, especially when contingency fee assistance is available. The substantive law and procedures surrounding wrongful death cases are usually complicated and the claims, compensation, legal arguments, and strategies will inevitably vary greatly depending on the unique circumstances of your case. For example, knowing when to file survival actions and when to make negligent infliction of emotional distress claims can have a tremendous impact on the compensation you receive. Don’t risk missing a claim or crucial argument by trying to tread the legal waters alone - after all, the defendant in a wrongful death suit will almost surely have representation and you will need it too to protect your legal rights.

An experienced wrongful death lawyer at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP will thoroughly investigate all aspects of your case and ensure you are fairly compensated. If you'€™ve recently lost a loved one, please contact us today for a free and confidential consultation of your case. Our skilled personal injury attorneys will examine the circumstances of your claim, protect your rights in a court of law, and seek the rightful compensation you deserve for your loss. Call us today at (800) 900-0863.

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