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San Jose Wrongful Death Attorneys

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At Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP, we understand the impact an unexpected death can have on a family. All too often, the egregious actions of one careless individual can have life-altering consequences for an entire innocent family.

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

Why Hire Our Firm?

  • Award-winning representation
  • Free, no-obligation consultations
  • 85+ years of combined experience
  • Tens of millions won for our clients

Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP is an accomplished and respected wrongful death law firm located in Northern California. Our firm has protected the legal rights of hundreds of victims and families, and we have recovered tens of millions of dollars in damages on behalf of our clients.

We work together to represent you in an efficient and effective manner. If you have lost a loved one as the result of a fatal accident, contact our skilled wrongful death lawyers at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP immediately.


If your loved one died as the result of another’s negligent or wrongful acts, you might have a claim for wrongful death. While financial compensation can only do so much, this type of claim allows certain surviving family members to ensure wrongdoers are held accountable and recover damages for the emotional and financial losses they suffered.

To recover damages for wrongful death, an individual must fall 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 other than children residing in the same household 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.


One of the most important considerations involved with a wrongful death lawsuit is the timing of your claim. Under the 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 more than two years.

However, if death resulted from medical malpractice, that statute of limitations is increased to three years from the date of the initial injury, or one year after the plaintiff discovers or should have discovered an injury leading to death.

Wrongful death cases against government agencies in California, such as those involving a government-operated vehicle that causes a fatal accident, adhere to different rules and procedures. In government liability cases, families have six months from the date of injury to file an initial claim.


After the loss of a loved one to another person’s negligence, it is important to seek compensation to assist with the financial damages suffered. We realize no amount of money will do justice, but it can help ease the financial losses your family is experiencing.

Damages that may be recovered in a wrongful death claim in California are subject to the general requirements that they are reasonable and would have been 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 watching children during the workday, 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 included in the wrongful death claim. 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 is 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.

Note that 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:

  • Pain, suffering, or anguish experienced by the decedent prior to death
  • Medical expenses or other expenditures incurred by the decedent prior to death

Though these elements are not recoverable in a wrongful death action, you can pursue them through a survival action. A survival action is brought when an injured party dies from the harm inflicted by a negligent person. The decedent’s personal representative, i.e., the executor of their estate, brings this type of lawsuit and recovers all economic losses of the decedent prior to death.

A survival action does not include damages for the pain and suffering experienced by the decedent, only actual quantifiable losses, like medical bills and lost wages.


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

  • Life expectancy: Damages in a case are recoverable for the period where the survivor and the decedent would have been alive together. Damages will therefore 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.
  • 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.


If a loved one has been involved in an accident resulting in a wrongful death in the San Jose area, you may be entitled to compensation for all losses. Get in touch with our compassionate wrongful death lawyers at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP. We will provide you with aggressive legal representation to help you secure the compensation you need to rebuild and find a way forward.

What is a survival action?

A survival action is a lawsuit typically brought by the decedent’s executor to help survivors recover for economic losses that the decedent experienced before death. These include medical bills, suffering and anguish, and wages lost.

What is “negligent infliction of emotional distress”?

This is a kind of claim that certain survivors may be able to file. For instance, if you saw a parent or a child or other close relative die, you can claim serious emotional distress and make a wrongful death claim for mental suffering.

Will I have to pay for legal services up front?

The wrongful death law firm of Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP provides something called contingency representation. This means that you only pay money for your legal fees if/when you win a verdict or recover through settlement. The payment would be a percentage of that verdict or settlement.