Losing a loved one is the probably the most difficult experience we go through as human beings. However, when a loved one dies as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, the pain and grief is even greater because of the knowledge that this was a death that could be prevented. Wrongful death cases often stem from auto accidents, defective products and slip-and-fall cases to mention a few. Thinking about legal action soon after losing a loved one can be emotionally traumatizing.
Wrongful death lawsuits are also often misunderstood. Here are the five most common misconceptions about wrongful death cases.
1. It’s all about the money.
Wrongful death lawsuits serve several purposes. One, they help victims’ families get monetary compensation for their terrible loss. Money could not make up for the loss of a loved one, but it does help a family recover at least financially from that loss. Secondly, such a lawsuit could also help hold the at-fault parties or wrongdoers accountable. Thirdly, a wrongful death lawsuit can help right a wrong. For example, a product manufacturer may be forced to pull the defective items off the market or make a product safer as a result of a wrongful death lawsuit, in which case the legal action may have helped save lives.
2. Criminal charges preclude a wrongful death lawsuit.
This is not true. It is important to understand the difference between a criminal proceeding, where a person who committed a homicide or caused a death is found guilty of murder or manslaughter. In such cases, the defendant, if found guilty, would be sentenced to prison time and ordered to pay restitution to the decedent’s survivors. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action where the defendant is found liable for the death due to negligence or wrongdoing. In such cases, the decedent’s family would receive monetary compensation for damages such as medical expenses, funeral costs, pain and suffering, lost future income and loss of love and companionship.
3. There is no time limit to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California.
Under California law, there is a two-year statute of limitation for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. If you do not file within that time limit, you may lose your opportunity to seek damages or compensation. There could be some exceptions. It is important that you speak with an experienced Sacramento wrongful death lawyer about the specifics of your case.
4. The insurance company will offer me a fair settlement.
There is no guarantee that the negligent party will make an offer or that an insurance company will do its due diligence or act in good faith. They certainly won’t have your best interests at heart. You need an experienced lawyer on your side who will fight for your rights every step of the way.
5. A lawyer is not necessary.
Not only do you need a wrongful death lawyer to represent you in your case, but you also need an attorney who has experience successfully handling wrongful death cases. Your lawyer must be familiar with applicable law and one who can handle your case in a compassionate manner.
We can help answer any questions you may have regarding your legal rights and options. Call our experienced Sacramento wrongful death lawyers at (916) 444-0100 for a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.