If you recently lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligent actions or intentional harm, no amount of compensation can make up for the great loss you have suffered. However, in the aftermath, you might experience financial hardship and are in need of relief. Through a wrongful death lawsuit, surviving family members could be awarded damages, depending on their relationship with the deceased.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When a person dies, regardless if the death was the result of negligent or intentional actions, a civil action can be brought to court by the survivors or the personal representative of the decedent. If successful, a wrongful death lawsuit would result in monetary damages that would be awarded to the surviving family members, unlike a criminal case, which would be brought by the state and penalized by jail or prison time, among other possible methods.
Can Anyone File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Not all surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Below are is a list of those who can bring a wrongful death claim to court:
- The surviving spouse of the decedent
- The surviving domestic partner of the decedent
- The surviving children of the decedent
- If the decedent does not have any surviving family members, a wrongful death lawsuit could be filed by an individual who is entitled to the decedent's property, such as siblings or parents
If the following individuals can prove they financially depended on the decedent, they may also file wrongful death lawsuit:
- The decedent’s putative spouse and their children
- The decedent’s stepchildren
Available Damages for Surviving Family Members in a Wrongful Death Claim
Many of the damages that are available in personal injury claims are also available to surviving family members in wrongful death claims. If the claim is successful, the awarded damages are usually divided amongst the surviving family members. Some of the awardable damages include:
- Burial and funeral costs
- Any medical or hospital bills the decedent incurred as a result of his or her final illness or injury
- Lost income, such as potential income the decedent would have expected to earn in the future had it not been for his or her death
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of love, affection, guidance, and moral support
What Are the Statute of Limitations?
Every state has what is known as a statute of limitations, during which a claim must be filed. If you miss out on this important deadline, the court will more than likely deny hearing your claim. In the state of California, surviving family members are expected file a wrongful death claim within two years, beginning on the date of the decedent’s passing. Consult with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to ensure you do not miss out on your chance to file a lawsuit against the responsible party.
Wrongful Death Attorneys in San Jose
If you recently suffered the loss of a family member as a result of someone else’s negligent or intentionally harmful actions, you are likely enduring some serious hardships as a result of this untimely death. At Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP, our compassionate San Jose legal team will help you navigate the process, so you can obtain just compensation.
For the skilled and caring representation you need during this difficult time, contact our law firm today at (800) 900-0863 to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable member of our team. If we cannot win your case, you will not owe us any legal fees.