If you have lost a loved one in a preventable incident, it is critical to discuss your legal rights with a California wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. While the law does not require that you have legal representation in order to file a wrongful death lawsuit, there are many things a wrongful death attorney will do for you that require time, money, and understanding of the law. The following are only some of the ways in which your attorney will help you:
Hire experts to determine what happened
We hire expert consultants in order to evaluate the evidence for the particular accident to help us determine exactly what happened at the time, depositions of witnesses and involved parties are taken, all of which combine to allow us to develop a solid case that fault for the accident was on those responsible parties that we are bringing suit against.
The damages in a wrongful death case, however, are proven differently to a great extent than a personal injury case. Sometimes there’s a medical issue as to whether or not the accident in question led directly to the death of a loved one, but most of the time it’s pretty clear unfortunately from the accident what happened. Where necessary, however, we will retain the necessary consultants to prove that it was this accident, not some preexisting condition that led to this person’s tragic death.
Much of what we do however, in terms of proving damages in a wrongful death case revolves around the duty to show everyone exactly who this person was, who has passed away so suddenly and tragically – and we do that by talking to anyone and everyone we can find who knew them. Mostly family members, friends and coworkers – the people close to this person who help us show exactly what they meant to their family and friends.
We do statements, we do video, we use photographs – all kinds of things to put together a portrait that ultimately is normally turned into a video about this person, who they were and most importantly what they meant to the family member or family members we represent. This is work that we take very seriously. We’re always honored to carry this out on behalf of these families. It’s one part of the work we do here that I think we’re most proud of.
Evaluate whether you have a Claim
Just because a death occurred does not mean that it was wrongful or that you have the right to recover for your losses. In an initial consultation, a lawyer will listen carefully to your story, ask questions, and may even interview other witnesses to carefully evaluate whether you have a valid wrongful death claim.
Identify the Negligent Party
In order to file a claim, you have to determine who should be named as the liable party. In some cases, this will be obvious. For example, if a drunk driver killed your loved one and the driver was arrested with a blood alcohol content (BAC) well over the legal limit, it should be clear that the driver’s actions caused the death. However, in other cases, the responsible party may not be as readily identifiable. Imagine a driver was texting while driving and did not see a pothole in time, so she hit the pothole and her defective tire blew out, causing her to lose control and triggering a fatal collision. In this case, the liable party may be the distracted driver, the local government for not maintaining the roadway, the tire company for selling a defective tire–or all three.
In complicated situations, it can require significant investigation to identify all possibly negligent parties. Your attorney can call on experts, such as accident reconstruction specialists, to give their opinion regarding the cause of the accident. Your attorney may also obtain cell phone records or surveillance videos. This investigation may be necessary before your attorney can determine the correct party to name in a lawsuit. In addition, an experienced wrongful death attorney will know how to litigate your claim whether it is against another individual, a company, a government entity, or multiple parties, as each type of case may have unique legal issues.
Represent you Throughout the Litigation Process
The litigation process can be time-consuming and stressful, involving many different rules and procedures. The following are only a few things an attorney will do during litigation:
- Filing the lawsuit — A wrongful death lawsuit has many requirements and must be persuasive enough to successfully present your case and stand up to challenges by the other party.
- Gathering evidence — Evidence in your favor is gathered in many different ways, including through investigators, depositions, document requests, and more.
- Challenging the other side’s defenses — The other party will certainly raise legal defenses to avoid liability. You attorney will answer back to challenge those defenses and protect your rights to a recovery.
- Negotiate a favorable settlement — The majority of wrongful death lawsuits are settled out of court but this does not mean you should accept a settlement that is too low just to avoid trial. Your attorney will effectively use new arguments and evidence to negotiate until you receive the settlement offer you deserve.
- Represent you at a jury trial — If the liable party refuses to make an adequate settlement offer, your attorney will present your case at a trial, which involves strict rules of evidence and procedural requirements.
Call our Wrongful Death Lawyers for More Information
The above are only some of the many ways a California wrongful death attorney can help you during your case. If you would like more information about our services and what we can do for you, please call GJEL Accident Attorneys at 866-218-3776 for a free consultation today.