Plenty of witnesses saw the drunk driver run the light, and the blood alcohol content shows that if the crash didn’t kill the at-fault driver, liver failure will probably eventually do the job. It’s an open and shut case, and your friends advise you to make a wrongful death claim against the drunk driver. With the police report and overwhelming evidence on your side, why would you need to hire a good Sacramento wrongful death attorney, who will get their fee out of your settlement?
It’s The Things You Don’t Know That Could Make A Difference
Yes, the evidence in your case is overwhelming, but wrongful death claims are very different from normal personal injury lawsuit, and it’s the things you might not know that could ultimately cost you tens of thousands of dollars. For example:
If the drunk driver was in a company car or supposedly at work, you could sue his company or employer as well. Did you know that?
The statute of limitations on California wrongful death claims is very strict, and if you miss the deadline for filing the lawsuit, your case has no chance of succeeding, regardless of the validity of your claim. Do you know what the statute of limitations is? Do you know how to actually go about filing a claim?
Wrongful death lawsuits in California allow for the recovery of damages including the income your partner would have been likely to earn over his or her lifetime. Do you know how to calculate that income, including bonuses, commissions, gifts from the company, pensions, etc.? Expert testimony will be required to substantiate this part of your claim. Do you know where to find these experts, and how much will they charge to testify on your behalf?
Wrongful death lawsuits also provide for compensation for loss of companionship. Do you know how to put a dollar figure on loss of companionship, and do you really want to have to stand up in court and make a statement to that effect to a jury of strangers?
What if you find out later on that the traffic lights at the intersection just might have been faulty, and both the drunk driver and your partner just might have had green lights? If the lawyer for the insurance company defending your claim brought this up in court, how would you deal with it? Also, if that was the case, you would have had an opportunity to sue the city or county responsible for maintaining those lights, in which case even stricter statutes of limitation would apply.
Then what happens when your partner’s ex-wife or husband shows up and wants a cut of your claim, either for themselves or for the children they had with your partner? Do you know if they can make a separate claim, or are they entitled to anything at all?
Each and every one of these questions are answered by Sacramento wrongful death attorneys on a regular basis, and the fact is, anyone proceeding with a wrongful death without proper legal representation is taking a huge and unnecessary risk with their future and that of the rest of their family. Even with an “open-and-shut” case, unless you know all the technicalities involved in making a wrongful death claim—the paperwork required, the time limits, all potential parties against whom you could be making your claim, where to find the experts needed to validate your claim, and so on, ad infinitum—you are literally walking around dollars to save cents.
Another factor you may want to consider is that insurance companies are notoriously difficult to deal with in such cases, because wrongful death awards can amount to extremely large sums of money. If an insurance company sees an individual making a wrongful death claim without legal representation, it’s like waving a pork chop in front of a hungry wolf. They’d be delighted, because they know the chances of paying a hugely reduced sum of money have just been greatly increased.
What’s more, if it does go to court (again, all the more likely if you don’t have a good wrongful death attorney on your side from the very beginning), the insurance company will have hired expert witnesses and aggressive lawyers who will try their best to undermine your entire case. They honestly don’t care about being fair. It is their job to save their stockholders money by paying you as little as possible, regardless of how badly you’ve been affected.
Even the simplest and most straightforward of lawsuits are, because of the way the judicial system is structured, complex enough. And there’s nothing—absolutely nothing—simple or straightforward about a wrongful death claim.
If the worst has happened, and you have lost a partner, a provider, a companion and one of your children’s parents, don’t allow the future to become any more uncertain than it already has. Give yourselves the best chance of at least a secure financial future by securing the services of someone who has all the answers to the questions asked above. Contact an experienced and reputable Sacramento wrongful death attorney for a free consultation.
A good attorney will explain the entire process to you and guide you through the options, time limits and potential outcomes. They will also be able to source the expert testimony, carry out additional investigations into the crash, file the necessary paperwork, and make a convincing appeal to the jury on your behalf. As a result, you will have a greatly improved chance of getting the compensation you and your family deserves, and which you will need to face the years ahead.