Many people do not understand the term “wrongful death” or how it applies to certain accident situations under California law. After all, any death that should not have happened could be called “a wrongful death.” Even if people have a vague idea of what wrongful death means, they do not always understand why they should retail a professional wrongful death lawyer to handle these types of cases rather than a general practice lawyer.
There are many questions that arise when one begins to consider a wrongful death case. First of all, is this case actually a “wrongful death?” It is possible that the other side can argue that the accident was inevitable as a result of the victim’s actions? Can I receive punitive damages or are they barred in wrongful death cases? Are there limits to the amount I can collect? Where should I file a wrongful death case and against whom?
It is easy to see that these questions can become very confusing for anyone without experience in dealing with wrongful death matters. While it is possible to find the answers to specific questions, the entire handling of a wrongful death lawsuit is important as the answer to each question leads to other issues that must be addressed.
Essentially, wrongful death is the name given to a special type of lawsuit that deals with situations in which one person kills another through negligence or criminal acts. It would not apply to someone who died a natural death from a disease unless it could be shown that a person caused the disease to infect the victim or refused to treat the victim for the illness. In most cases, wrongful death applies to accidental death caused by the actions or failure to act of an individual or company.
Wrongful death cases are limited by law in some respects. For example, you normally have two years to file a suit, but that time period can be lowered to as little as six months if a government agency is involved or a year if medical malpractice caused the death. There are also limits to the amount you can collect in non-economic damages in some cases, such as medical malpractice cases. It is possible to collect punitive damages in addition to your regular settlement if it can be shown that the person intended to kill the victim, as is the case when a homicide is committed.
Can a victim be responsible for his or her own death? This question often arises when a person accused of causing a wrongful death tries to justify his or her actions. Under California law, a victim’s actions can mitigate the liability of the person who is being sued for wrongful death, but often it is only by a certain percentage, such as ten or twenty percent. This means that the person who is suing might have his or her judgment reduced by a certain amount.
It is difficult to anticipate all the questions and scenarios that may arise, but a professional Sacramento wrongful death attorney can help you recover damages no matter what your situation.