If you have lost a loved one, it is important to contact a qualified attorney who is experienced in wrongful death claims to verify that you have a case. You must act quickly in bringing the claim to court, as California observes a statute of limitations of 1 year on most wrongful death cases.
There is always the chance that your case will settle out of the courtroom, but this is fairly infrequent. If your wrongful death case does go to court, a judge and jury will hear all evidence and the jury will make a decision as to what amount of compensation you will be entitled to receive. The court can alter the amount of compensation if they deem it inappropriate. For instance, the jury may award a large sum to the family of man in his early twenties who had two children but who made very little money. In this case, the court may decide to lower the amount of compensation.
Expert testimonies of economists can prove valuable in determining the sum to be paid to the family of the deceased. This is especially useful in the case of a young person or a stay at home parent who earned little. These people obviously still contributed to their families’ survival; that worth would need to be determined.
With any wrongful death claim, it is the burden of your attorney to prove the decedent’s earnings and family relationships through letters, home videos, photographs, wage earning reports, past tax returns, and more. Medical documents may need to be brought forth regarding medical expenses and whether the decedent experienced much pain and suffering before his or her death. All evidence, when presented professionally and properly, will work to help you get a ruling in your favor.
In malicious or serious crimes involving wrongful death, punitive damages may be awarded. In this case, the defendant would be required to pay additional money to the court as punishment for his or her crime, discouraging others from committing the same or similar crimes.
Do you need help with a Southern California wrongful death claim? Contact our office today!