Woodland Hills Wrongful Death Lawsuits
What started out as a 40th birthday party for your husband at his favorite spot for drinks and authentic British food turned into a nightmare. You and your husband Mike, along with 20 or so good friends, met at the White Harte Pub in Woodland Hills on a Saturday night. After a pint of Guinness, fish and chips, and a few games of darts, it was time to head back home. But while you were a responsible and sober driver (as always), your car was t-boned by a heavily intoxicated driver who ran the red light at Ventura and Fallbrook. Your husband of 19 years died on the way to the hospital, while you suffered only minor bodily injuries.
You got some relief after the driver was convicted of aggravated DUI and involuntary manslaughter. But now you’re facing financial stress after losing your family’s sole breadwinner just as your oldest child is about to start college. You’re also heartbroken and depressed from the trauma. No amount of money can replace your loved one, but you deserve compensation for your loss and pain.
When you lose someone important to you due to another party’s negligence or intentional act, you have the option of filing a civil claim. We’ll discuss the basics of wrongful death claims, how liability is determined, and the types of injuries for which you can claim damages. Of course, a Woodland Hills wrongful death lawyer is best positioned to help you get the compensation you deserve. We have over 40 years helping families with wrongful death cases and will handle your case with the same compassion and tenacity we have done for so many before.How Wrongful Death Differs From Manslaughter
Manslaughter is a criminal offense, typically associated with acts of negligence or carelessness that lead to someone else’s death (fatal DUIs, for instance). They are considered wrongs committed against the state and are sanctioned with heavy fines, community service, and incarceration. A wrongful death claim is filed in civil court by the survivor(s) of the deceased alleging that a given party was liable for the individual’s death. Civil liability allows for monetary compensation, so the plaintiff(s) might argue that their loved one’s death resulted in loss of financial support or caused pain and suffering.
While the standard of evidence for a criminal trial is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” civil claims are subject to the much-lower “preponderance of the evidence” standard. In the example above, the criminal trial must show that the evidence clearly shows that the defendant was in fact intoxicated at the time of the accident and that this resulted in Mike’s death. If there is any doubt, then the jury must acquit. The civil trial, on the other hand, must prove only that the evidence and facts of the case show a greater than 50 percent chance of the civil defendant’s liability for the death.
This means someone who is acquitted of a crime still may be found civilly liable for someone’s death resulting from the exact same incident. That’s also why you want a Woodland Hills wrongful death lawyer to represent you, rather than simply relying on the information that was revealed at the criminal trial.Proving Liability in a California Wrongful Death Claim
California has a two-year time limit from the date of the incident (the “statute of limitations”) for filing a personal injury claim, including wrongful death. A California wrongful death case must prove the existence of the following “elements” in order to prevail:
- A human died;
- This death was caused either by another's negligence or intent to cause harm (not necessarily death);
- Surviving family members are suffering monetary injury as a result of the death; and
- A personal representative for the decedent's estate has been appointed.
Referring to the opening example, we can show that these elements are met. Mike in fact died; this was caused by another motorist’s intoxicated driving; Mike’s surviving family members are suffering financially and otherwise as a result; and a personal representative to Mike’s estate has been appointed.Damages for Wrongful Death
Since Mike was the sole income-earner for his family, his wife claimed damages (monetary claims for injuries) for the cost of funeral services and burial, loss of financial support for the entire family, loss of household support, and loss of consortium (love, affection, companionship, etc.). She also may be suffering from extreme pain and suffering after the loss of her beloved partner.
In the example, the plaintiff likely has a strong case because of the DUI conviction and probably will win a settlement (most cases do settle). But insurance companies often try to push through a lower settlement quickly, since they have an incentive to keep payouts low and close cases quickly. Make sure you speak with an attorney before agreeing to anything. Every case is different and while working on the legal aspect of your loved one’s case may not be what you want to do, there’s very little you need to do once you hire us. We take everything off your plate so you can grieve and the money that comes from wrongful death cases can provide a sense of closure and justice.Get Compensated for Your Loss: A Woodland Hills Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help
Putting a dollar amount on the loss of a loved one can seem like a cruel exercise. But while we can’t bring them back, skilled injury attorneys know how to secure a fair compensation for your loss. Let the skilled professionals at the Law Offices of Gary K. Walch, A Law Corporation help you put the pieces back together.