Losing a loved one due to another person's wrongful actions can leave families filled with endless grief and outrage. They may question their legal options and the remedies they can pursue to achieve justice.
However, you do not have to handle this complicated and challenging situation alone. With an experienced California wrongful death lawyer from Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP, taking on your legal claim, a skilled legal professional can fight for the justice you and your loved ones deserve.
- Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP: Who We Are
- What Does Wrongful Death Mean in California?
- Differences Between a Wrongful Death Legal Claim and a Criminal Case After Someone Dies
- What Do You Need to Establish to Pursue a Wrongful Death Legal Claim?
- When Would a Party Be Liable for a Wrongful Death?
- Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in California?
- What Damages Can a Decedent's Family Members Pursue in a Wrongful Death Action in California?
- How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
- What Are the Differences Between a Wrongful Death and a Survival Action?
- Losing a Loved One Who Did Not Work: What Are Your Options?
- Contact an Experienced California Wrongful Death Attorney and Fight for the Justice Your Family Deserves
Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP: Who We Are
With more than 75 years of combined experience, the law firm of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP has served San Mateo and the Bay Area and its communities by providing injured victims the justice and compensation they deserve. Our legal team works hard to help preserve our client's legal rights, take on the insurance companies and fight for the maximum compensation they deserve.
We understand what it takes to obtain evidence, support our client's needs, and effectively build a case. However, more importantly, we value our clients' life, health, and their future. That is why when you work with our attorneys, we will work hard to get you the financial recovery you are entitled to. For more information on our legal team and how we can help you with a wrongful death legal claim in California, reach out to us today for further details.
What Does Wrongful Death Mean in California?
Wrongful death in California results when a person dies to another individual's or organization's negligence or misconduct. However, while a criminal case may proceed against those responsible for the wrongful death, a wrongful death claim provides the decedent's family members with a way to recover compensation for the losses and damages they endured due to the death of their loved one.
Differences Between a Wrongful Death Legal Claim and a Criminal Case After Someone Dies
Following a person's death, a criminal case arises when the government is looking to punish an individual for their wrongful actions that have been classified as a crime. In comparison, a wrongful death legal claim is a civil case brought by the decedent's loved ones against the individual or entity that caused this death.
When it comes to these civil suits, a family can still pursue them even if the liable party was not convicted in criminal court. Furthermore, when a wrongful party is found guilty in a criminal case, they can face penalties such as probation, jail time, and fines. If a wrongful party is held liable in a civil case, they will usually be ordered to pay monetary damages to the decedent's family.
Depending on the situation, an accident can lead to both a criminal and a civil case. For instance, when a drunk driver strikes another individual and kills them, the at-fault party can face criminal DUI charges and manslaughter charges in addition to a civil wrongful death case.
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What Do You Need to Establish to Pursue a Wrongful Death Legal Claim?
To bring a wrongful death legal claim, a plaintiff needs to establish:
- A person passed away
- Another person's negligence or intentional actions caused the death, and
- The surviving family members suffered financial damages because of this death.
These types of claims, like other civil claims, have a preponderance of the evidence standard when determining liability, which is lower than what is required in obtaining a guilty verdict by the prosecution when they need to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
When Would a Party Be Liable for a Wrongful Death?
In California, a decedent's survivors could bring a wrongful death claim for a death that was caused by someone else's negligence, recklessness, gross negligence, or intentional wrongful actions.
Wrongful actions can result from:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Trucking accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Criminal activity
- Bicycle crashes
- Motorcycle accidents
- Dog bites, and
- Product defects
In addition, even if a person is acquitted in a related criminal case for a person's death, they could still be found liable for wrongful death. However, to know whether you can bring a wrongful death lawsuit following a loved one's death, consider discussing the matter with an experienced wrongful death attorney from Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP.
Our legal team can thoroughly go over the details of what happened, determine if you have a viable wrongful death claim, and help you fight for the justice and financial damages you and your family deserve.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in California?
According to California's laws, only certain family members or their personal representatives may bring a lawsuit for wrongful death.
These individuals include:
- The surviving spouse or domestic partner
- Grandchildren, if the deceased's children have also passed away
- Other minor children, including stepchildren who were also dependent on the deceased for at least 50% of their financial support, and
- Anyone else who would have been entitled to the deceased's property under California's laws
However, the order in which these family members can file a wrongful death claim can be complicated. If you want to know whether you have legal standing to pursue a wrongful death claim in California, contact a skilled California wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.
Our legal professionals can determine not only whether you qualify to pursue legal action under the state's wrongful death statute, but they can help you figure out what legal action you can take next and how to go after maximum compensation.
What Damages Can a Decedent's Family Members Pursue in a Wrongful Death Action in California?
Wrongful death damages are usually measured by the harm caused to the decedent's surviving loved ones due to losing their family member. This does not include any monetary damages related to the harm caused directly to the deceased.
Consequently, the damages that survivors could recover under the laws in a wrongful death claim include:
These damages include:
- The financial support the decedent would have provided to their loved ones during their life
- The loss of benefits or gifts the survivors could have expected to receive from the decedent
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The reasonable value the deceased would have provided when it comes to household services
These types of damages include compensation related to the loss of the decedents:
- Moral support
- Sexual relations
To determine which of these damages you may be entitled to in a wrongful death suit, consider reviewing your case with the legal team at Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP. Our lawyers can review the case, determine your losses, figure out what financial damages you can pursue, and go after the money you need.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
If you are pursuing a wrongful death legal claim in California, you will only have two years to bring this suit. If you fail to file this case within this time, the court can stop you from getting the money you and your loved ones need.
Additionally, depending on the circumstances of the wrongful death, exceptions may apply that can change these filing deadlines, making them even shorter. That is why, if you want to make sure your case is filed before time expires, contact an experienced California wrongful death attorney at Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos as soon as possible.
Our legal professionals can figure out not only how much time you have to file your legal case but they can also make sure that the appropriate documents are submitted before time runs out.
What Are the Differences Between a Wrongful Death and a Survival Action?
While a wrongful death lawsuit looks to compensate family members for the losses stemming from the death of their loved ones, a survival action is filed on behalf of the decedent's estate to claim compensation for the losses suffered by the decedent, such as pain and suffering and medical bills.
However, these damages refer to the losses sustained after the wrongful act but before an individual passed away. This means that if the wrongful act caused instant death, a survival action may not be possible.
In addition, a survival action can also pursue punitive damages, which are damages the court uses to punish the wrongful party for the egregious actions and help deter others from committing the crime in the future. However, filing a survival suit is not easy and also has strict filing requirements.
If you believe you can bring a survival action, contact a skilled wrongful death lawyer at Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos as soon as possible. Our lawyers can determine your legal options regarding these suits and how you can proceed.
Losing a Loved One Who Did Not Work: What Are Your Options?
Even if your family lost a loved one who never worked or did not work at the time of their death, they may have still contributed in some other ways to the family. A common example of this situation is a stay-at-home parent who contributed to the family through their guidance, services, and skills. We can quantify these contributions, known as pecuniary losses, in a wrongful death action.
However, consider speaking to a wrongful death attorney for further information regarding this type of situation or what to do under these circumstances. Due to your family member's contributions, you may still be owed compensation for the losses you endured following their death, even if they did not work outside the home.
Contact an Experienced California Wrongful Death Attorney and Fight for the Justice Your Family Deserves
While no amount of money can ever help you get over the hurt of losing a loved one, obtaining compensation for the losses you endured following this death can give you peace of mind that your family will be taken care of down the road and that you have obtained justice for what happened to your loved one.
More importantly, when you work with an experienced California wrongful death lawyer from Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP, you will not have to take on this complex legal ordeal yourself. Instead, these lawyers can review your case in detail and figure out what options you have and the remedies you can pursue.
They can also:
- Answer any questions and concerns you have about the wrongful death legal claim and provide you with the support you need during this challenging time.
- Investigate the wrongful death accident and secure evidence that can help substantiate your case.
- Obtain experts that can help establish liability and damages, such as medical doctors, accident reconstructionists, and economists.
- Deal with the other side and handle all the settlement negotiations as they fight for a fair settlement offer.
- Proceed to take your case before a jury or judge if the other side is unwilling to negotiate fairly and fight for maximum damages.
Do not wait to get the legal help you need if you lost a loved one due to another individual's wrongful, reckless, or intentional acts in California. Instead, contact an experienced California wrongful death lawyer at Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP, today at (650) 345-8484 for your free case evaluation and find out how our legal staff can fight for the justice and monetary damages your family deserves. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.