Wrongful death claims are complicated. They are also a necessary part of the civil court system because this is often the only way that families are able to recover closure and compensation for the loss of a loved one. However, there are various misconceptions about wrongful death claims in Riverside. It is important to clear up some of these misconceptions. We encourage you to speak with a skilled Riverside wrongful death attorney if you have lost a loved one due to the actions of another individual or entity.
Misconception 1: I can’t file a claim if there are criminal charges against the at-fault party
Civil wrongful death claims are completely separate legal actions from criminal charges filed against a person responsible for someone else’s death. Law enforcement officials make arrests, and prosecutors decide whether or not to file an individual with a crime. The criminal system is responsible for determining whether or not a person is guilty of causing a death and then deciding on an appropriate punishment period
Civil wrongful death claims are filed by family members or personal representatives of the deceased individual’s estate. It is entirely possible to file a civil wrongful death claim while a criminal case is ongoing. Additionally, even if a person is found not guilty criminally, or if prosecutors drop a case, the alleged at-fault party can still face a civil wrongful death claim and end up having to pay compensation to the family members or the estate of the deceased.
Misconception 2: It is too late to file a claim now
It is not uncommon for individuals to think that they no longer have time to file a wrongful death claim. In California, the wrongful death statute of limitations is two years from the date of death. This means that family members and the estate of the deceased have a two-year window with which to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent party. Failing to do so will likely result in the case being dismissed. However, there are various exceptions to the wrongful death statute of limitations, and we strongly encourage you to speak to a skilled attorney who has experience handling these claims so you know the best steps moving forward.
Misconception 3: The circumstances do not constitute wrongful death
If you have lost a loved one and are unsure of whether or not you have a wrongful death claim, you need to speak to a skilled lawyer as soon as possible. The reality is that wrongful death claims arise in various ways, and you may not know whether or not you have a valid claim until after an attorney examines the facts and circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. Some of the most common ways that wrongful death claims arise in Riverside and throughout California include vehicle accidents, intentional assaults, premises liability incidents, defective products, medical malpractice, and more.
Misconception 4: I will not recover much compensation
There are times when family members think that it may not be worth it to pursue a wrongful death claim. Again, we encourage you to contact a wrongful death lawyer who has experience handling these matters and can examine the facts of your case. A lawyer will have a better understanding than you about how much compensation may be available for your particular claim. There is no set amount of money paid out to plaintiffs through an insurance settlement or jury verdict for these cases. Total wrongful death compensation will vary depending on factors related to each particular claim, including the age of the deceased, life expectancy of the deceased, income and expected future earnings the deceased would have earned, pain and suffering factors, and more.