Most people think there is no need to call a wrongful death attorney until your loved one has died and you decide to file a lawsuit. But there are many reasons to do so before that point.
So what does a wrongful death attorney do? To begin with, many wrongful death lawyers also practice personal injury law. So, if your loved one is severely injured and you are not sure how long they have, an attorney knowledgeable in both areas can provide essential advice.
A wrongful death attorney also is that steady hand you rely on when your world has just been turned upside down. There is no instruction book for coping when a loved one dies due to someone else’s wrongdoing. But an experienced wrongful death attorney can help deal with insurance adjusters, investigate the circumstances surrounding the death, and then sue the responsible party if necessary.
What Do Wrongful Death Lawyers Do? Represent Grieving Families
Wrongful death attorneys choose this practice area because they are empathetic individuals who know how to guide surviving loved ones through this difficult time.
Types of Cases
Many circumstances can lead to a wrongful death case. Accidents involving the following are common causes:
- Cars, trucks, and rideshare vehicles;
- Bicycles and scooters;
- Slip and fall; and
Sadly, errors by medical professionals are another leading cause of wrongful deaths. Likewise, child and elder abuse and neglect may also lead to death.
Finally, people are frequently unaware that they may bring a civil action against the person who murdered their loved one. Though the State will likely hold the killer criminally responsible for the death, the decedent’s family may also bring a civil action to recover damages.
Who Can Sue
California Code of Civil Procedure § 377.60 dictates who may bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Under this law, the following individuals or their personal representative may file suit:
- Surviving spouse;
- Domestic partner;
- Grandchildren if their parent is deceased;
- The putative spouse, children of the putative spouse, stepchildren, parents, or legal guardian (if the parents are deceased) if they were dependent on the decedent; or
- A minor who lived in the decedent’s household for the last 180 days and was at least 50% dependent on the decedent for support.
If the decedent did not have surviving descendants, individuals who would inherit the decedent’s property by intestate succession could be able to bring an action.
With limited exceptions, all of the heirs and claimants should be joined in one lawsuit under what is known as the “one-action rule.”
Help Negotiate with Insurance Adjusters
When a family member passes away suddenly, particularly if it was due to an accident, the survivors may have to deal with automobile, medical, life, or even homeowners insurance companies. This can be a complicated and stressful process. An attorney can help you effectively negotiate with savvy insurance adjusters who are too happy to shortchange you in an attempt to save their company money.
Investigating the Circumstances Surrounding the Wrongful Death
Following a wrongful death, you may have many questions. You may wonder, What does a wrongful death lawyer handle? You may be confused about what or who caused the accident that injured your loved one. Or, in the case of medical malpractice, you may wonder whether the doctor did something wrong during the surgery.
To answer these questions and much more, wrongful death attorneys hire investigators, consult experts, obtain official reports, track down witnesses, and ask questions. The attorneys at The Larsen Firm have years of experience and will employ multiple resources to fully investigate your loved one’s death.
The goal of a civil wrongful death lawsuit is to obtain compensation for the loss a decedent’s family suffered as a result of their death. This includes things like:
- The financial support the decedent would have contributed to the family;
- Any lost gifts or benefits the decedent would have been expected to give;
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- The reasonable value of household services the decedent would have provided; and
- Compensation for loss of the decedent’s love, companionship, assistance, physical relations, and guidance.
The types of damages available depend on what losses each party experienced.
It is important to note that wrongful death actions differ from survival actions, which compensate for losses the deceased person suffered between the time of the accident and their death. Such losses may include medical expenses before death, lost wages, and property damages. Additionally, for actions brought after January 1, 2022, the decedent’s estate can recover for the pain, suffering, and disfigurement suffered by the decedent before death.
Reach Out to The Larsen Firm for Help Today
If you have a loved one who passed due to another’s negligence, you may wonder, What does a wrongful death lawyer do? You may even wonder if you need a lawyer. We sincerely hope we’ve answered those questions today. Best Lawyers® recognized The Larsen Firm as a top wrongful death law firm in 2021 and 2022. The Larsen Firm handles cases all over California, and we will come to you if you need us to. We know this is a devastating time, and we can take the burden off your shoulders. Contact us today.