San Mateo Wrongful Death Lawyers

Wrongful Death Information

When a person dies as a result of someone else's negligence, fault or carelessness, surviving relatives can sue liable parties for this "wrongful death." This lawsuit, if successful, will entitle the plaintiffs to collect money for the deceased's lost wages, funeral expenses, and payment for intangibles, such as lost companionship.

Depending on the situation, many different parties can sue for someone's death. Obviously, immediate family members, such as the deceased's spouse and children, can recover money. But other interested parties can sue as well, including "putative" spouses, life partners, and people financially dependent on the deceased. In certain cases, even distant family members and the parents of a deceased fetus can bring an action.

Possible Defendants

You might think that only the person most immediately and causally responsible for the death could be sued. For instance, say a trucker ran your husband off the road and killed him. Obviously, the negligent trucker could be held liable. But the law allows plaintiffs to cast a rather wide net. Even a party only peripherally responsible for a death may have to pay damages. For instance, in the situation discussed above, the trucker's employer, insurance company, and even the municipal agency responsible for keeping the roads free of debris could be named as defendants.


Survivors can seek financial damages, such as money to pay for the victim's would be earnings, loss of benefits (e.g. medical insurance), loss of inheritance, and funeral and medical expenses. Survivors can also seek so-called "non-economic" damages - that is, money for intangible damages, such as anguish and suffering, loss of advice, nurturing and guidance, loss of love and companionship, and loss of consortium. Finally, the survivors can seek punitive damages in certain situations, if the defendant engaged in extremely negligent, reckless, or intentionally destructive conduct. For instance, nursing homes may be sued for treble (three times) damages in wrongful death suits involving an abject level of neglect. Defendants can also (in certain situations) collect for attorneys' fees and court costs for bringing the legal action.

Getting excellent, timely advice on your rights and responsibilities is key. Wrongful death law can be complicated. Given that you and your family are dealing with pressing logistical and financial concerns, you probably prefer not to add yet another major project to your list. To that end, connect today with the wrongful death lawyers at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP for a free and confidential consultation at (800) 900-0863.

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