When a person’s death is caused by the negligent, reckless or willful conduct of another party, surviving loved ones deserve justice. While the offender may or may not face criminal charges, surviving family members can also obtain compensation through a San Jose wrongful death lawsuit.
J&Y Law is a premier personal injury firm serving clients in San Jose and throughout the state of California. We know that losing is a loved one is never easy and no amount of money can ever replace a life. Nonetheless, surviving family members deserve compensation for the loss of care, comfort and support their loved one provided.
What is a wrongful death claim in San Jose?
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit that arises when a person dies due to the negligence or wrongful conduct of another party. A wrongful death claim differs from a criminal homicide case in that blame is assigned in terms of financial compensation, rather the prison time and other penalties.
It is worth noting that a wrongful death claim can be filed regardless of whether a criminal proceeding commences or the offender is convicted. This is because the burden of proof is lower in a wrongful death claim than a criminal case. In a criminal matter, the prosecution must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, on the other hand, the plaintiff only needs to demonstrate the defendant’s fault by a preponderance of the evidence. In order to have a valid claim, the plaintiff must be able to show demonstrate the four elements of negligence:
- The wrongful death was caused by the negligent, reckless or willful conduct of the defendant
- The defendant owed the deceased person a duty of care
- The defendant breached this duty by causing the death.
- The death resulted in actual damages, such as hospitalization, medical expenses, the victims pain and suffering prior to death, loss of income and potential earnings,
- loss of protection and guidance.
Who can file a wrongful death claim in San Jose?
Under California’s wrongful death statute, the only parties who may file a claim are:
- The deceased person’s surviving spouse
- The deceased person’s domestic partner
- The deceased person’ s surviving children
- If there are no other direct survivors, parents or siblings of the deceased person
- Others who were financially dependent on the deceased person
What damages are available in a wrongful death claim?
While each case is unique, surviving family members may be awarded damages for (1) the value of financial support and services the deceased person provided and (2) the loss of the deceased person’s love, companionship, and guidance. In addition, damages may be awarded to the deceased person’s estate for death-related losses, including:
- Past and future lost wages and benefits
- Reasonable medical expenses related to the decedent’s final injury or illness
- Funeral and burial expenses
It is important to note that the monetary amount of damages awarded in a wrongful death claim depends on the specific circumstances of the case. In addition, a wrongful death claim in San Jose must be filed within two years of the date of the decedent’s death. If the lawsuit is not filed within this time period, surviving family members will be barred from recovering any damages.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death in San Jose
Although a variety of circumstances can be the basis for a wrongful death claim, some of the most common include:
- Automobile accidents — Car accidents, whether caused by distracted driving, speeding, reckless driving or driving under the influence, kill as many as 35,000 people in the U.S. each year due.
- Truck accidents — In the case of a commercial truck or tractor-trailer accident, a wrongful death claim can be filed against a negligent trucking company, the truck driver, or both.
- Medical malpractice — Because doctors and other medical professionals are held to a higher standard of care, a wrongful death lawsuit based on medical malpractice can arise from misdiagnosis, a surgical error, an anesthesia error, or similar medical mistakes.
- Product liability — Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers can be held liable for providing defective products that cause wrongful death or for failing to provide adequate warnings about the potential dangers of a product.
- Swimming pool accidents — Because swimming pools, both public and private, are common in San Jose, a wrongful death claim can arise from poorly designed or maintained pools or the negligent conduct of the property owners
- Violent crimes — Survivors of a homicide victim can seek justice through a wrongful death lawsuit, regardless of whether the defendant is convicted.
- Workplace accidents — Construction sites, manufacturing plants, and similar workplaces expose workers to all types of hazards — falls, burns, explosions, harmful chemicals, and other dangerous substances. When fatalities result from safety violations or third-party negligence, a wrongful death claim can be filed.
Contact Our San Jose Wrongful Death Lawyer
Our attorneys are keenly aware that survivors face the difficult burden of grieving while knowing that another party’s negligent conduct was responsible for the death of their loved one. We can help to lift that burden by offering our knowledge, compassion and aggressive legal representation. If you suffered the loss of a loved one because of another party’s negligence, you may be angry and not know where to turn. Remember, we are here to help. When you consult J&Y, you can rest assured that we will never stop fighting for you. Please contact our office today to speak with our attorneys.