Walnut Creek Wrongful Death Attorneys

Losing someone you love because of the negligent conduct of another is devastating and overwhelming. It’s extremely difficult to think about hiring an attorney at a time like this. But the time to investigate a wrongful death claim is now, while details are clear in witnesses’ minds, evidence is accessible, and legal papers need to be filed.

Choosing A Wrongful Death Attorney

When choosing a wrongful death attorney, it is important that the victim’s heirs not only look for a law firm with extensive experience in handling such cases, but also one with compassionate, caring attorneys and professional staff who will respect the suffering and sadness their clients are experiencing.

How We Can Help

At the Appel law Firm LLP, our attorneys have over 60 years of combined experience in handling wrongful death cases, and understand not only the intricate legal aspects of handling such cases but also the emotionally sensitive aspects affecting our clients. We work diligently to see these cases through to completion so as to relieve as much stress as possible during this difficult time in our clients’ lives.

Call us for a free consultation. We will address your immediate questions and concerns with commitment and compassion. Once we take your case, we’ll guide you through the legal system to recover monetary damages from the responsible party. It’s our personal attention that wins people over.

Alert: Your wrongful death case must be filed within a certain time, so there is always urgency to retain an expert attorney.

What should I know about wrongful death lawsuits?

The state of California provides information about wrongful deaths. The first thing that one should know is that there is a statute of limitations regarding lawsuits for wrongful death. A statute of limitations is a clause providing a time frame in which a party must file suit. If a party files a suit after the expiration of the statute of limitations, it usually means that the party can no longer legally file a claim regarding a particular matter. There are sometimes exceptions that apply to statutes of limitations, but the primary concern should be to file suit before its expiration so that a person can continue their suit without problems. Mistakes regarding the statute of limitations can be the difference between winning a case or never having the opportunity to go to trial. It is a significant reason why a person should contact a lawyer as quickly as possible.

Aspects of a Wrongful Death Claim

In order to successfully bring a wrongful death claim in California. The decedent’s heirs must prove that:

  • (1) The death was caused, in whole or part, by the conduct of the defendant;
  • (2) the defendant was negligent or strictly liable for the victim’s death;
  • (3) there is a surviving spouse, children, beneficiaries, or dependents; and
  • (4) monetary damages have resulted from the victim’s death.

In a wrongful death claim, those permitted to bring such a claim are entitled to “just compensation” for the loss each has suffered by reason of the death of their loved one. Compensation for wrongful death cases is determined by determining: (1) financial support (2) right to receive support (3) age of the deceased and (4) respective life expectancy of the deceased.

Each entitled person also can receive reasonable compensation for the loss of love, companionship, comfort, affection, society, solace, or moral support of the decedent. Finally, funeral and medical costs are a part of the legal analysis.

Veteran Wrongful Death Cases

Per the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Department of Veteran Affairs paid nearly 1,000 families for wrongful death settlements, including 59 settlements in California. The cases include such careless behavior like: failing to remove a central-line catheter in a hospitalized veteran causing his immediate death; veterans who shot or hanged themselves after being refused treatment by a hospital; and an elderly veteran who was paralyzed from the neck down after a fall due to a lack of attention by the hospital staff, even though his sister had warned them that her brother should not be alone. The central theme is that veterans came to hospitals or nursing homes to receive assistance and received poor and inadequate care. These events are even more tragic as independent legal analysts believe that many more people have died from the negligent behavior of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the 1,000 wrongful death settlements represent merely a small percentage of their victims. Congress is investigating the Department of Veterans Affairs to ascertain how many of these deaths were preventable. At a Congressional hearing, representatives accused the department of having failed to discipline officials for these deaths. Lawmakers mentioned that rather than facing discipline for these deaths, many executives received performance bonuses.

Actual and Punitive Damages

Unfortunately, due to the fact that the veterans died under the care of the Veterans Affairs, it limits the compensation that loved ones can receive for wrongful death. When there is a wrongful death case, a party may often have an opportunity to receive damages based on the principle of punitive damages. Punitive damages consist of compensation meant to go beyond what is considered necessary to compensate an individual for their losses. The amount of money believed to provide restitution would be considered actual damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish defendants for especially egregious behavior and provide an incentive so that others do not behave similarly. However, because the Department of Veterans Affairs is part of the federal government, victims can only receive actual, and not punitive, damages.

If you have suffered losses associated with the wrongful death of a loved one, the Appel Law Firm LLP, can offer the experience and skill necessary to provide you with sound advice on how to protect your legal rights.