There are unique challenges presented by a wrongful death claim. Someone facing one of these difficult legal actions will need an attorney with the empathy, insight, and skill to determine the damages recoverable and fight for fair compensation. The attorney needs to be familiar with the right experts who can evaluate the claimant’s losses, and know how to document and gather evidence of those losses for a judge, jury, and/or claims adjuster.
A skilled wrongful death attorney needs to command the capital needed to underwrite the costs of this sometimes very expensive litigation, and the guts to commit his resources toward the goal of obtaining a fair recovery for you.
These cases are emotional, often forcing you to confront your relationship with your loved one and conveying to a judge or jury how important that person was to you and why you should be adequately compensated. If you have lost someone you love through the negligent conduct of another, you can count on Choulos Choulos & Wyle to provide the serious help you need.
The death of a loved one is always a traumatic experience. The situation can be made worse if the death was the result of someone else’s carelessness or negligence. At the San Francisco law offices of Choulos Choulos & Wyle, we have over 100 years of combined years of experience representing the families of those who have lost loved ones through wrongful death. Contact us Link to Contact Us today to speak with one of our experienced wrongful death attorneys.
At Choulos, Choulos & Wyle, we handle wrongful death claims that arise in a wide variety of ways. Our San Francisco wrongful death attorneys have experience helping family members who have lost loved ones due to:
After the devastating loss of a loved one that is caused by the negligence of another person, company, or entity, you need an attorney with extensive experience handling these cases by your side. Choulos, Choulos & Wyle is ready to help.
Wrongful death claims can become incredibly complicated, especially when it comes to proving liability. In most cases, family members do not have the resources or legal experience necessary to investigate their loved one’s death. However, a skilled San Francisco wrongful death lawyer will have the resources necessary to:
A potential wrongful death claimant should speak with a lawyer who is experienced with the procedures involved in making the claim itself as well as the nature and extent of the damages which can be recovered under California law.
Historically a person could recover only those damages he suffers because of injury or damage to his own body or his own property interests. The ability to sue for damages because of the death of another is a relatively new theory in common law. Because it is a “new” theory, the law regarding wrongful death has been created by state legislatures or courts and not inherited from the legal tradition begun over 1000 years ago in England.
Each state, therefore, has its own “wrongful death statutes” or other law under which a person may claim damage because of someone else’s death. The provisions of these statutes are closely aligned: therefore, the discussion that follows may be similar to the law in states other than California. However, you need to consult an experienced wrongful death attorney licensed to practice law in the state in which the claim will be litigated before you can make an informed decision about proceeding with a wrongful death action.
The wrongful death statutes in California, as in most states, have both procedural and substantive provisions. They establish who has a cause of action, and what damages the appropriate claimants may be able to recover.
Where there is a claim for wrongful death, the claimant has not suffered a personal injury. When a person is entitled to a claim for wrongful death under the law as described above, the claim is for the loss of the relationship with the deceased person. Unfortunately, a claimant cannot successfully seek pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, or the other kinds of damages which can be sought in a personal injury case. A claimant cannot recover damages for grief or sorrow, no matter how destructive that suffering may have been. However, the law holds that certain future emotional and economic interests have been destroyed by the death, and permits a wrongful death claimant to recover damages for those losses.
The San Francisco wrongful death attorneys at Choulos, Choulos, & Wyle are experienced presenting the magnitude of the loss a person has suffered. Wrongful death claims are technical and require specific knowledge and experience. At Choulos, Choulos, & Wyle our wrongful death attorney know how to best present your claim for emotional and economic loss caused by the death of your loved one.
In California, juries are instructed that they can award a claimant three kinds of damages:
Our wrongful death specialists successfully negotiated a cash settlement of $4,200,000 on behalf of the surviving wife and two sons of a man who was killed in a commercial bus crash. This case was brought by our bus crash team in the Santa Clara County Superior Court, where the bus company had its principal place of business. At the time of this crash, this bus was engaged in a gambling tour of Indian casinos and was touring Northern California. The crash occurred on a rural road near Fresno, when the bus, traveling at approximately 65 miles per hour, attempted to pass a tractor driving slowly in the right lane on a rural highway. Failing to clear the tractor, the bus struck the rear of the tractor with the front passenger side of the bus. The decedent, who was sitting in the very front seat, suffered immediate life-threatening blunt trauma and brain injuries, and died at the scene of this bus crash.
Our bus and transportation accident team successfully represented the survivors of the man killed by the negligence of the bus driver including his two minor children and their mother, the man’s widow. While liability was clear on the part of the bus driver, there were several other passengers who suffered injuries in this bus crash. The policy limits of the bus company were $5,000,000.00 and the proceeds needed to compensate all of the injuries to all of the passengers as well as the surviving family of the man killed. In this case, the economics of the loss to the family were challenging to prove because the man killed had been self-employed virtually his whole life and had no good records to demonstrate a steady income. Our wrongful death attorney retained forensic accountants and economists to show the financial loss to the family as well as psychologists to evaluate and demonstrate the emotional harm caused by this loss. Ultimately, our wrongful death attorneys were successful in making this bus company accountable for this tragic loss of a husband and father.
A limited portion of the decedent’s claim survives his or her death and can be combined with a wrongful death claim and is known as a “survival action”. A survival action is brought to recover such items as the medical bills and lost income. Unfortunately, in California, the decedent’s claim for pain and suffering they experienced up to the time of death dies with them, leaving the economic damage for lost income and medical bills that existed before the death. However, a claim for punitive damages survives the wrongful death and can make a large contribution to the recovery that might be available to the decedent’s estate — in the appropriate case. The limitations of a survival action do not in any way limit the wrongful death damages as outlined above.
Every state is responsible for setting a limit for how long family members have to file wrongful death claims against any alleged negligent parties. These time limits are called the statute of limitations. In California, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years from the date of a person’s passing. Generally, if a claim is not filed within this two-year window, family members will lose the ability to recover compensation for their losses.
However, the exception to this two-year limitation is known as the “discovery rule.” This will apply in cases where the person’s death was not apparent at the time of passing, but it was later discovered that they were killed due to the negligent actions of another. In these cases, the two-year time limit will not begin until the date in which the cause of death is ascertained.
Please note that medical malpractice cases that result in wrongful death generally only have a one-year statute of limitations in place. Cases in which there is a wrongful death claim against a governmental entity must be filed within six months from the date the incident occurs.
For more information on how our San Francisco wrongful death attorneys can help you understand your options and represent you with sensitivity as well as expertise, contact Choulos, Choulos, & Wyle today to schedule an appointment with an experienced lawyer.