Chances of Winning Wrongful Death Suit
After losing a loved one due to the negligence of another individual, surviving family members are granted the legal right to hold that party accountable. This comes in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit.
However, many families are reluctant to pursue damages. Reasons may vary, but common concerns often pertain to the dilemma of being forced to revisit the traumatic experience which would be a hindrance to emotional recovery, or families may be troubled by the reality that the case outcome will not meet expectations.
Every wrongful death case is unique, so there is no guarantee that every case will end in a successful outcome. With that said, there are effective methods for calculating a case’s value and success rate. Here is how the chances of winning a wrongful death suit can be accurately evaluated.
The Factors That May Influence the Outcome of a Wrongful Death Claim
Based on the specific circumstances of the accident (like when the event occurred or the involved parties), the outcome of each wrongful death claim will yield different results.
Here are the following factors to consider before filing a claim, and remember, an experienced wrongful death attorney can always provide assistance to clarify legal complexities.
If “Negligence” Can Be Proven
In order to prove liability for a wrongful death accident, it must be demonstrated that the defendant’s negligent actions were the root cause of the event. This can be indicated by the following four factors.
- The defendant owed a Duty of Care to act responsibly and not endanger others
- The defendant Breached the Duty of Care, violating the responsibility to act responsibly
- The breached duty of care resulted in the Causation of the loss of life
- The family member’s death resulted in Damages to the surviving family
If the Victim Was Also At Fault
As with any personal injury case, the subject of fault will always be examined. If the victim was at fault for the fatal accident, then it may be difficult to win a wrongful death lawsuit.
However, if it can be demonstrated that the other party played a greater role in causing the accident due to his or her negligent actions, compensation may still be recovered.
Under California’s comparative negligence laws, the plaintiff’s (in this case, the family seeking damages) chances of winning are still possible. Compensation will just be decreased, based on the victim’s percentage of fault.
The awarded amount will be reduced by the established percent of fault. For example, if the victim is found 10% liable, and the determined wrongful death settlement is $50,000, the final amount would be $45,000.
If the Family Member Filing Is an Eligible Claimant
Initiating a wrongful death lawsuit in order to recover compensation is restricted to specific family members. When it comes to filing a wrongful death claim, California law mandates that only certain individuals may pursue wrongful death cases in civil court.
Therefore, even if the interested party recognized the deceased as “family,” that individual must fall within the court’s legal definition of “surviving family members.”
In California, surviving family members typically include spouses, domestic partners, or children. These individuals may file a suit on behalf of a loved one’s wrongful death.
Parents may also file wrongful death lawsuits, but only if they were financially dependent on the deceased. In addition, other financial dependents may also file a wrongful death lawsuit and seek compensation.
If the Wrongful Death Suit Is Filed Within the Statute of Limitations
California’s statute of limitations to file a wrongful death lawsuit is typically two years from the date of the victim’s death, not the date of the accident.
This means eligible family members have two years to file a lawsuit against the person or entity responsible for the wrongful death. For some wrongful death claims, the statute of limitations can be extended or reduced.
Although there is typically a multi-year window to pursue legal action, it is strongly advisable to avoid pushing the filing date back. The more time that passes, the more negatively impacted the case can become.
This is often due to evidence becoming unavailable or witnesses being unable to provide a statement about the accident. Additionally, if the filing date is missed, there will not be another opportunity to pursue damages.
If an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer Is Handling the Case
In the aftermath of a loved one’s untimely passing, seeking legal representation is crucial. Because wrongful death cases are threatening to the bottom line of an insurance company, they are always inclined to challenge the legitimacy of any wrongful death claims that come their way.
Unfortunately, insurance companies have the resources and time to fight wrongful death lawsuits filed against them. This can result in claimants being pressured into settling for inadequate offers or dropping their wrongful death cases entirely.
However, working with a San Jose wrongful death attorney provides the support and guidance needed to fairly contend with the insurance companies. Additionally, they will work tirelessly to protect clients’ rights and secure the compensation they rightfully deserve.
What Are the Chances of Winning a Wrongful Death Claim?
While there’s no guaranteed success in any case, data suggests that settlements in personal injury cases are more common than trials with nearly 70% of cases settling.
Wrongful death settlements fall within personal injury, so these types of cases also show a positive rate of settling before going to trial.
This is because insurance companies often opt to find a resolution out of court versus litigation, as trials can be more costly. However, keep in mind that the success rate varies based on the specific circumstances of each wrongful death suit.
Types of Damages Available in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The odds of winning a wrongful death suit depend on the losses pursued. They are categorized into two types of losses: economic damages and non-economic damages.
This accounts for any form of financial loss the surviving family suffered as a result of the accident, including before and after the victim’s passing.
These losses are verifiable through bills, invoices, and other documentation listing out-of-pocket expenses. Common examples of wrongful death damages include:
- Medical expenses
- Grief counseling
- Funeral expenses
- Burial costs
- Loss of income and benefits
- Property damage
These types of wrongful death damages encompass other intangible forms of loss. Although more difficult to prove, non-economic damages still justly qualify as measurable losses. Common examples include:
- Loss of companionship
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of support (protection, guidance, etc.)
For Further Assistance, a San Jose Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help
To ensure the best possible outcome for you and your family, strong legal representation is essential. To clarify, it is not mandatory to hire a wrongful death lawyer to represent you. However, a personal injury attorney’s understanding of wrongful death laws and California’s legal procedures is greatly beneficial.
At Valley Accident Attorneys in San Jose, our law firm is backed by a team of legal professionals, including investigators, expert witnesses, and support staff, capable of building winning wrongful death lawsuits.
We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we only receive payment if we can successfully secure a favorable outcome for you.
Contact Valley Accident Attorneys for Guidance and Support
While no legal outcome can fully compensate for the untimely death of a loved one, a wrongful death suit can provide a sense of justice and financial security.
If contemplating filing a wrongful death lawsuit, please consult with one of our personal injury attorneys when you feel ready. We provide a free consultation to all prospective clients and can offer legal and emotional support during this difficult time.