You Have Questions, We Have Answers

What is wrongful death?

Who can sue for wrongful death?

How are damage amounts determined?

Must a settlement be shared with all relatives?

What are survival statutes?

What is the difference between murder and wrongful death?

What is the difference between wrongful death and medical malpractice?

What is the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim?

At Rosenthal & Kreeger LLP, our lawyers are here to guide you through every step of the process after losing a loved one. No matter what your questions may be, give us a call at 916-677-4979 to discuss your worries today, or schedule a free consultation about your case.

What Is Wrongful Death?

The idea behind a wrongful death lawsuit is that the wrongful death, in addition to injuring the person who died, also injured people who depended upon the deceased for financial or emotional support. The wrongful act may be a/an:

  • Negligent or careless act such as careless driving
  • Reckless act
  • Intentional act such as a deliberate murder

Almost every state has enacted a statute permitting a lawsuit to be brought by the relatives of a person who died as a result of a wrongful act.

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Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death?

The representative allowed to bring a wrongful death suit is defined by state law. In California, it is the spouse or domestic partner and children followed by grandparents and other relatives. Some states have enacted restrictions on filing when one family member would be suing another family member for the wrongful death of a third family member.

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How Are Damage Amounts Determined?

Calculating the amount of money you can collect for a wrongful death can be complicated. Family members can recover payment for the injured person's medical bills and burial expenses, but may also be entitled to additional damages such as:

  • Wages the person who died would have earned if he or she had lived
  • Pain and suffering experienced by the survivors due to the absence of the deceased person
  • Future earnings, estimates of which usually require testimony from an expert witness

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Must A Settlement Be Shared With All Relatives?

Possibly. State law, along with any documents signed by relatives and the type of action filed, would determine what, if any, obligation the relatives filing the lawsuit have in sharing the settlement.

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What Are Survival Statutes?

If an injured party files suit, but then dies before the case is concluded, the survivors or beneficiaries — for example, the widow — may continue the suit on behalf of the deceased or the estate of the deceased.

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What Is The Difference Between Murder And Wrongful Death?

Murder is determined in a criminal lawsuit. Wrongful death is determined in a civil lawsuit. Civil lawsuits for wrongful death are tried for money damages, not to put the defendant in prison. Civil cases are brought in the name of individuals, not in the name of the state. The burden of proof in criminal and civil cases is different. In criminal cases, the standard is "proof beyond a reasonable doubt." There is also a presumption of innocence that stays with the defendant until and unless the jury returns a guilty verdict. In civil cases, the standard of proof is "by a preponderance of the evidence," which essentially means "more likely than not," or put another way, proof by 51 percent or more.

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What Is The Difference Between Wrongful Death And Medical Malpractice?

Wrongful death suits can be brought against any negligent party that caused the death of another person. Medical malpractice can be filed against a practitioner for any inadequate medical procedure, including, but not limited to, an action that resulted in the wrongful death of a loved one. It is possible to have a medical malpractice wrongful death case, but not every medical malpractice case is a wrongful death case and not every wrongful death case is a medical malpractice case.

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What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Filing A Wrongful Death Claim?

Like many types of suits, there is a time frame that must be observed when filing the lawsuit or the opportunity to file the claim is forever lost. The time frame for filing is set by state law. The clock begins to run from the time of the incident or, in some states, from the time the party became aware of, or discovered, the injury.

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Have You Lost A Loved One To Wrongful Death? We Can Help. Call Now.

If you have lost a loved one to wrongful death, the experienced wrongful death attorneys at Rosenthal & Kreeger LLP, with offices in Sacramento and Roseville, can help you. Your initial consultation with us is always free, and we can meet with you at a time or place convenient to you, or you can schedule an appointment at our offices. To schedule your free initial consultation, call 916-677-4979 or complete the online form.