San Mateo Wrongful Death Attorneys

Wrongful Death FAQs

Who may be allowed to collect damages in a wrongful death suit?

The answer depends on both state law and family dynamics. In some instances, only the spouse and children of the deceased may sue. In other cases, other relatives, grandparents and other dependants may be allowed to sue.

How are wrongful death damages calculated?

The assessment of damage is a complicated, dynamic, and often sluggish process. Survivors should be compensated for the pain and suffering experienced due to the deceased's absence. For instance, children who lose the support of a parent should be compensated for that parent's absence. In addition, the money that the deceased would have earned will enter into the equation. Calculating these so-called "future earnings" can be a tricky business. Expert witnesses may need to testify to establish a correct figure here. For instance, say you lost your father in a car accident, and he had been engaging in various entrepreneurial endeavors. The nature and size of his future earnings would be up for hot debate. On the other hand, if your father worked as a foreman in a manufacturing plant, and there was a clear and established trajectory for his earning potential, his future earnings figure would be less controversial.

What are some examples of wrongful death cases?

A. Car accident -- For instance, say a speeding motorist blows through an intersection and slams into a minivan, killing the elderly female driver. The spouse and other family members of this woman can sue the negligent driver (as well as perhaps his insurance company) for the car accident wrongful death.

B. Product liability -- Say a cook at a restaurant gets scorched (and ultimately dies) when a poorly designed gas piping system explodes at his restaurant. The manufacturer, designer, and installer of the gas piping could potentially be sued for wrongful death.

Is wrongful death the same thing as murder?

No. Murder is a charge brought by the state or federal government against an individual for someone's death. A murder case is a criminal case, meaning that the defendant can wind up in jail if convicted. The burden of proof on prosecutors is much higher in a criminal case - you need to prove the defendant's guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." In a civil case, such as a wrongful death case, the burden of proof is much lower - "beyond a preponderance of the evidence" - essentially 51%. Individuals can bring wrongful death cases against other people, and the court will award money as opposed to dispense jail time.

If the defendant files for bankruptcy after the wrongful death case, will my award be dismissed?

Potentially. According to certain states' bankruptcy laws, negligence damages may be discharged in certain situations. However, wrongful death caused by reckless behavior - such as drunken driving - will not be dismissed, even if the defendant does file for bankruptcy.

What can I do to protect my family's rights and ensure that justice is done?

Connect immediately with the respected and established fatal accident at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP at (800) 900-0863 . For more than 100 collective years, this firm has served personal injury victims and demonstrated a tremendous track record for success and results.

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