If you have lost a loved one in an accident in Bakersfield, we offer our sincere condolences. We also want you to know that help is available. If someone else is to blame for your loved one’s death, your family may be entitled to significant financial compensation.
Of course, pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit is not easy. In order to protect your family’s legal rights, it is crucial to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
In this article, we provide an overview of what you can expect when you hire an attorney to pursue your family’s wrongful death claim. If you need immediate assistance, please call The Law Offices of Mickey Fine at (661) 333-3333 today for a free consultation.
3 Steps to Build a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California
While there are numerous complicated aspects to building a wrongful death claim, broadly speaking the process can be broken down into three steps:
- Proving liability
- Calculating damages
- Preparing your family’s lawsuit
Step 1: Proving Liability for Your Loved One’s Death
When seeking to recover financial compensation for a loved one’s wrongful death, the first step is to determine who is at fault. This requires an investigation, and ideally you will want to hire a lawyer to conduct an investigation as soon as possible.
Even if the cause of your loved one’s death seems obvious (i.e., if a drunk driver admitted to being intoxicated behind the wheel), your family will still need evidence in order to prove liability. Depending on the nature of the accident and the circumstances involved, your lawyer will investigate and collect evidence such as:
- Forensic evidence from the scene of the accident
- Traffic camera or security camera footage
- Eyewitness testimony
- A police report or accident report
- Expert reports and testimony
- Phone records, employment records, maintenance records, vehicle “black box” data, and other forms of documentary evidence
Once the investigation has uncovered all of the evidence that is available, your lawyer can start the process of building a case for compensation. At this point, it will also be necessary to begin the process of calculating your family’s financial and non-financial losses.
Step 2: Calculating Your Family’s Economic and Non-Economic Losses
Calculating damages in a wrongful death case is different from calculating damages in a personal injury lawsuit. This is because eligible family members can recover compensation for both their own personal losses and the losses their loved one incurred and endured prior to death.
Generally speaking, the damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit under California law include:
- Medical expenses for diagnosis and treatment prior to death
- Medical expenses for end-of-life care
- Funeral, burial, and cremation expenses
- Loss of earnings prior to death
- Loss of future earnings, benefits, and investment income
- Personal pain and suffering
- Loss of support and companionship
In order to calculate the specific amounts that you and your family members are entitled to recover, it will be necessary to thoroughly assess the specific facts of your case. Your attorney will need to work closely with you, your family members, and highly experienced medical and financial experts to accurately calculate just compensation for the financial and non-financial costs of your loved one’s death.
These costs can truly last a lifetime. In most cases, the damages that are available to eligible family members will be substantial.
Step 3: Preparing Your Family’s Lawsuit
The third major step involved in seeking financial compensation for wrongful death is preparing your family’s lawsuit. It is extremely important to work with an experienced attorney who knows the legal procedure for wrongful death claims and can effectively seek just compensation on your family’s behalf.
When preparing your family’s lawsuit, one important factor to consider is California’s One Action Rule. This rule says that a party can only be sued once for wrongful death. So, when filing your wrongful death lawsuit, it is imperative to make sure that the claim seeks compensation on behalf of all family members who are eligible to receive compensation. This may include:
- The victim’s spouse or domestic partner
- The victim’s children
- The victim’s stepchildren
- The victim’s parents
- The victim’s siblings, grandparents, and other family members who are entitled to a share of his or her estate (if none of the above have survived the decedent)
Filing a successful wrongful death lawsuit is difficult, but it is also extremely important. If you need to seek financial compensation for a loved one’s death in Bakersfield, we encourage you to contact The Law Offices of Mickey Fine promptly for a free consultation.
Start Building Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit Today
Due to the complexity and emotionally charged nature of claims involving wrongful death, it is crucial to work with an attorney you and your family can trust. Attorney Mickey Fine has more than 20 years of experience serving clients and their loved ones in serious injury and wrongful death claims.
Please call (661) 333-3333 today for a free evaluation of your case. The Law Offices of Mickey Fine serves clients in Bakersfield, and nearby areas of California.