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Frequently Asked Questions About Wrongful Death

Below are questions people often ask us after losing a loved one due to negligence. These answers are for informational purposes only. SOMETIMES, EXCEPTIONS APPLY.  RELY ON YOUR OWN WRONGFUL DEATH ATTORNEY TO DETERMINE WHETHER AN EXCEPTION APPLIES TO YOUR CASE. Only by consulting an experienced California wrongful death attorney can you be sure your rights are fully protected.

Will the defendant in a wrongful death case also be tried in a criminal case?

Not necessarily. Whether the defendant is involved in both civil and criminal cases depends on the exact circumstances of the situation. If a criminal case is pursued, the civil case will happen afterward. It’s important to note that even if the defendant is acquitted of murder or manslaughter charges, he or she could still liable in a civil wrongful death case.

There is a different burden of proof in a criminal case and a civil case. The burden of proof in a criminal case is that the defendant caused the victim’s death “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In contrast, the plaintiff’s attorney in a civil case must prove that the defendant’s negligent or intentional act “more likely than not” led to the decedent’s death. While there might not be enough evidence to show it is true beyond a reasonable doubt, there may be enough to say it is more likely true.

How much is my case worth?

Every California wrongful death lawsuit is different. How much a case is worth depends on a variety of factors, such as:

  • The life expectancy of the decedent,
  • Financial support that your loved one would have contributed to you and any other dependents during his or her life,
  • Other gifts or benefits the decedent would have provided you and other dependents,
  • Funeral and burial expenses,
  • The value of household services that the decedent would have provided,
  • Love, companionship, comfort, care, protection, affection, and moral support you have lost as a result of your loved one’s death,
  • Your loss of intimacy if you are the surviving spouse, and/or
  • Your loss of the decedent’s training and guidance.

These and other factors will help determine the value of your case. An attorney experienced with wrongful death cases can review your circumstances to determine what your claim may be worth.

Do I need a specific kind of attorney to file a wrongful death lawsuit?

An experienced attorney who knows California’s wrongful death law will be able to best represent your case. It’s important to look for a lawyer who has a successful track record with wrongful death lawsuits. This experience will help ensure he or she can effectively investigate your case and protect your rights.

I am not the decedent’s biological child. Am I still eligible to file a wrongful death claim?

It’s not just biological children who can file a wrongful death claim in California. The following people can also bring a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • The surviving spouse or domestic partner the decedent,
  • An ex-spouse and his or her children if they were dependent on the decedent,
  • Stepchildren if they were dependent on the decedent,
  • The decedent’s parents if they were dependent on the decedent, and/or
  • A minor who lived with the decedent for the previous 180 days and was dependent for half of his or her support or more.

We welcome you to call CaseyGerry at (619) 238-1811 with any additional questions.

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