In California, wrongful death law dictates that survivors of a wrongful death victim have approximately two years to file their claim. This means survivors must preserve any and all documentation that pertains to the fatal injury. There are specifics in the statute of limitations that experiences wrongful death attorneys know well. It’s important you know what to expect in this complex and emotionally trying lawsuit.
If your loved one suffered a wrongful death and you have decided you want to pursue a lawsuit, it is important you secure the assistance of an excellent attorney because this is a very complex area of litigation. Contact Teal & Montgomery to discuss your claim. If you do not adhere to the time limit, your claim can be denied and you may be forced to waive your right to recover damages.
What You Should Know about a Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death claim is seen as a civil action. As the plaintiff, you must file your claim where the defendant lives or in the county where the fatal injury occurred. Most of the time, people are able to settle wrongful death cases without having to go to trial. At Teal & Montgomery, we do everything in our power to present a compelling case to the defendant and the defendant’s insurance company in order to assist you in avoiding a public trial, but should the need arise, we are fully prepared and willing to present your case to a jury.
Steps to Filing a California Wrongful Death Claim
The length of the process depends on how aggressive your law firm is in filing your claim, serving it to the defendant(s), and prosecuting it. Be aware that the insurance companies may exercise delay tactics. The following are the steps involved in filing a California wrongful death lawsuit:
- Filing your complaint. Your attorney will prepare your complaint, which outlines your claim against the person or entity whose actions led to your loved one’s wrongful death.
- The court summons and service of process. The court in which you filed your claim issues an order to the defendant that you are suing. The defendant has 20 days to respond to the summons. Failure to respond in a timely manner may result in the court’s decision on the case without the defendant’s opportunity to be heard.
- Discovery phase. During this stage of the process, both sides gather information, including depositions, to determine liability and the extent of damages. Because the person who sustained injury is no longer alive to give his or her perspective of the case, discovery can take a long time to collect and evaluate relevant documentation, including medical records. Your attorney is most likely going to engage a team of experts to participate in the analysis.
- Pre-trial motions. Your lawyer may file a motion to get a court answer on a particular issue. Pre-trial motions could end your case before trial.
Settlement or trial?
If you want a quicker resolution, you may consider negotiating a settlement instead of going to trial. Some cases may be complicated enough that it will be necessary to go to trial. This is most likely in situations where there is no agreement on who was the faulty party for the death, or if the parties do not reach a consensus on what amount of money is fair to settle the case.
How long will it take?
A Santa Rosa wrongful death lawsuit could take one to two years, or even longer, to prosecute. An experienced wrongful death attorney at Teal & Montgomery knows how to avoid delays and get your family the damages you seek in the fastest manner possible.
Free Consultations For Survivors Of Wrongful Death Victims
We offer a free telephone, online, or in-person consultation. Our Santa Rosa and Sacramento personal injury and wrongful death trial attorneys listen to you, consider the facts, and give you our best advice. For the Santa Rosa office, call 707-525-1212 or for Sacramento, call 916-448-1010.