San Jose Wrongful Death Attorneys

At Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP, we understand the impact an accidental death can have on the family unit. All too often, the egregious action of one careless individual can have life-altering consequences for an entire innocent family. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), an estimated 2.9 million Americans were admitted to a hospital in 2010 for accidental injuries. Well over 120,000 of these incidents ended in death, making it the fifth biggest cause of fatalities in the nation at the time.

Even though a lawsuit may be the last thing on your mind, you need not suffer unduly. Let our compassionate and comprehensive team at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP help guide you through the process and fight for the remuneration your family requires.

Call (800) 900-0863 for Trusted Counsel—No Recovery, No Fee

Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP is an accomplished and respected personal injury law firm located in Northern California. Our firm has protected the legal rights of hundreds of personal injury clients, and we have recovered millions of dollars in damages on behalf of our clients. We work together to represent you in an efficient and effective manner. If a loved one has been fatally injured as the result of an accident, contact our skilled San Jose wrongful death lawyers at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP immediately.

We want to help you hold the negligent parties accountable. Schedule your free, confidential case review today. Our wrongful death attorneys in San Jose are here for you.

Do I have a wrongful death claim?

If your loved one was fatally injured by the negligence of another person or entity, you might have a claim for wrongful death. While financial compensation can only do so much, this type of legal claim does allow certain surviving family members to recover damages from the persons responsible for the emotional and financial losses suffered.

In order to recover damages for wrongful death, an individual must be within one of the following categories:

  • Surviving spouse or domestic partner, must meet specific criteria of the state
  • Children, including adopted children
  • Dependent persons, parents can recover for their child's death if they were dependent or if there are no other survivors
  • Stepchildren
  • Minors residing in the same household, other than children who were dependent on the decedent
  • Others, such as dependent spouses not legally married to the decedent

Usually, more than one family member will be within the class of persons able to bring this type of lawsuit.

What is the statute of limitations for wrongful death in California?

Just like a lawsuit for negligence, there is a two year period of limitation on a lawsuit for wrongful death in California. The suit must be brought within two years of the death of the injured person. For example, if a husband is severely injured in an auto accident on January 1, 2010, he must bring a lawsuit to recover for his own injuries by January 1, 2012. If the husband dies because of his injuries on February 1, 2010, the wife must bring a lawsuit to recover for wrongful death by February 1, 2012.

Recent Case Results for Accidental/Wrongful Death

  • $3,000,000 Recovered: Truck vs. auto accident resulting in wrongful death.
  • $2,000,000 Recovered: Auto accident resulting in wrongful death due to defective highway design.
  • $1,300,000 Recovered: Wrongful death as the result of an auto accident.
  • Wrongful death∗ - Policy limit plus $150,000 in bad faith damages for auto accident where driver failed to yield the right of way on a left turn and insurance company refused to settle before trial
  • Wrongful Death∗ - Big rig vs. auto accident resulting in death of 20 year old truck driver where we obtained policy limits from three separate insurance policies
  • $475,000 - Wrongful death - Disputed liability auto vs. pedestrian case where elderly individual was struck while crossing the road outside of a crosswalk

∗Confidential settlements or settlements where Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP secured the maximum amount of coverage available.

Click here for more verdicts and settlements.

What losses may I recover in my wrongful death claim?

Damages that may be recovered in a wrongful death claim in California are subject to the general requirements that they are reasonable, and reasonably certain to result in the future. Subject to these limitations, a person entitled to sue for wrongful death can recover the following damages:

  • Loss of love, society, companionship, comfort, protection, care, and consortium: In determining the amount of these damages, several things are taken into consideration, including: the closeness of the relationship involved, the age and health of the survivor, and the life expectancy of the decedent.
  • Loss of services: Where a decedent performed domestic services for the survivor, such as babysitting, the survivor may recover the value of these lost services in a wrongful death action.
  • Loss of financial contributions: Where a survivor received expected financial contributions from the decedent, they can be recovered from the negligent party. Examples of items in this category include income, benefits, and support payments that would normally have been used to support the surviving person.
  • Loss of training and advice: Where the survivor would have received training and advice from the decedent, the survivor can recover the value of the loss. A common example: the advice, training and moral support that children receive from their parents.
  • Funeral and burial expenses: Reasonable funeral and burial expenses incurred by a survivor may be recovered in a lawsuit for wrongful death. These expenses must be considered reasonable before they are recoverable.

A lawsuit for wrongful death is intended to compensate the survivor for their own losses, not for the losses incurred by the decedent prior to death. Therefore, a survivor cannot recover for the following things:

  • Parents' pain, suffering, or anguish experienced by the decedent prior to death
  • Parents' medical expenses or other expenditures, incurred by the decedent prior to death

Even though these elements are not recoverable in a wrongful death action, another remedy is available so that these expenses and other elements can be repaid to the decedent's estate. This is called a survival action. A survival action can be maintained where the injured party dies from the injuries inflicted by a negligent person. The decedent's personal representative, i.e., the executor of their estate, brings this type of lawsuit and recovers for all economic losses personally by the decedent prior to death. A survivor action does not include damages for the pain and suffering experienced by the decedent, only actual quantifiable loss, such as medical bills and lost wages.

Understanding the Time Limits in Place

One of the most important considerations involved with a lawsuit is the timing in which the incident happened. Under California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 335.1, any individual who wishes to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit must do so within a time frame of no less than two years. While there are exceptions to this rule, a good portion of the situations fall under this code. Failing to act within the appropriate amount of time could leave any claim up for forfeit.

What factors may contribute to my recovery amount in a wrongful death action?

Possible considerations in determining the amount of a wrongful death recovery include:

  • Life expectancies: Damages in a case are recoverable for the period where the survivor and the decedent would have been alive together. Damages must be limited to the life expectancy of the survivor or the decedent, depending on which is shorter.
  • Earning capacity of decedent: Another consideration in determining the amount of wrongful death damages is the amount of lost support and financial contributions from a decedent to the survivor. The determination of exactly how much will be recoverable for these elements can be based on factors such as the decedent's earning capacity.
  • Relationship between survivor and decedent: One other consideration affecting the recovery of damages in wrongful death claims involves introducing evidence of the nature of the relationship between the survivor and the decedent. The closer the relationship, the more the damages are presumed to be.

Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP - Helping You Recover

If a loved one has been involved in an accident resulting in a wrongful death in San Jose, you may be entitled to compensation for all losses. Get in touch with our compassionate legal team at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP today. We will provide you with aggressive legal representation in order to help you receive everything you need to move on in life. Call our San Jose wrongful death attorneys today at (800) 900-0863.

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