Time matters when filing a Sacramento wrongful death claim
In California, including Sacramento, wrongful death law dictates that survivors of a wrongful death victim generally have two years to file their claim. Other time periods may apply if, for example, the wrongful death was caused by medical malpractice or asbestos exposure. That means that survivors must preserve any and all documentation pertaining to the fatal injury. However, there are nuances to the statute of limitations that qualified wrongful death attorneys are familiar with. This is a very complex area of the law. 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.
Timeline overview of a wrongful death claim
A wrongful death claim is prosecuted in a civil action. As the plaintiff, your suit to recover for damages must be filed where the defendant lives or in the county where the fatal injury took place. You must file suit where the defendant is located if the defendant is a government entity.
Most wrongful death cases settle without the need for a trial. At Teal & Montgomery, we work hard to present a compelling case to the defendant and the defendant’s insurance company to help you avoid going through a public trial. However, should the need arise, we are well prepared to present your case to a jury.
The following are the steps involved in filing a California, including Santa Rosa and Sacramento, wrongful death lawsuit. How long it takes to resolve your claim may last 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.
Filing your complaint. Your lawyer prepares your complaint, which outlines your case against the party who caused your loved one’s wrongful death. It identifies the parties involved, provides the legal basis for the court’s jurisdiction over the claim, and presents your claim and supporting facts. The complaint also includes a most critical element – the demand for judgment, that is, the damages you are seeking. In essence, this document gives the defendant notice.
The court summons and service of process. The court where you filed your claim issues an order to the defendant that he is she is being sued. The defendant has 20 days to answer 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. The process can be complicated and lengthened should there be multiple defendants involved and if there is any kind of counterclaim against the plaintiff.
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. The process can be delayed by the disappearance of critical evidence. Further, the kind of accident that caused the wrongful death factors into the timeline. For instance, a medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit may require substantially more extensive investigation than an auto accident wrongful death claim.
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. Your attorney can answer any questions you may have about the several types of pre-trial motions and how they may affect your particular case.
Settlement or trial? Negotiating a settlement instead of going to trial can mean speedier resolution. However, in some cases it is necessary to go to trial. This is likely to be true if there is no agreement on who was at fault for the death, or if the parties cannot agree on what amount of money is fair to settle the case.
A Sacramento 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.