San Jose Wrongful Death Lawyer
There are few experiences more upsetting than the unexpected death of a loved one. When that death results because of someone else’s wrongful or negligent actions, upset mingles with outrage and despair.
How could someone have let this happen? Who can I hold accountable, and how?
A tragic death that is someone else’s fault sometimes results in criminal charges against the wrongdoer. That can provide families and loved ones with some measure of justice. But, the criminal process is also out of their control. And, while it may bring some peace of mind, it does not help pay for the costs inflicted by a senseless loss: the loss of companionship, for one thing, as well as the loss of an income and end-of-life costs (including medical bills and funeral expenses).
Under California law, the survivors of those who have died because of someone else’s wrongful or negligent actions have the right to seek compensation through a “wrongful death” action. The compassionate, hard-working attorneys at Bohn & Fletcher have helped many Californians in the San Jose area assert those actions and recover compensation to help them through a very difficult time in their lives.
About Bohn & Fletcher
Bohn & Fletcher is a personal injury law firm based here in San Jose. For decades, we have represented injured Californians and the families of Californians tragically killed in accidents and incidents that weren’t their fault. Our mission is to make sure that our clients have the same high level of legal representation as they the insurance companies, government agencies, and big corporations who owe them money.
Our aim in most cases is to recover compensation for our clients. In cases involving wrongful death, we understand how some family members and spouses struggle with the idea of putting a “value” on the life of a loved one. We feel that same struggle. But, we also know that by recovering money from those whose actions caused a tragic loss of life, we are making sure our clients—the surviving family and loved ones—have the resources they need to rebuild their lives. Our efforts also often lead to important changes that help prevent future tragedies.
There is no guarantee of recovery in any wrongful death suit. Nonetheless, in past cases we have achieved significant outcomes, including a $45,125,008 recovery in a case involving a murder, $3.9 million in a matter involving a failure to provide emergency services, and $1.2 million involving an accidental electrocution.
California Law on Wrongful Death Claims
In California, the spouse, domestic partner, child, or grandchild of a person killed by the wrongful or negligent action of another person may bring a wrongful death action. If none of those exist, then the representative of the deceased person’s estate can assert the action.
Damages recoverable in a wrongful death action include all damages that may be just, but cannot include punitive or exemplary damages. A claim for wrongful death may, however, be combined with a claim for personal injury arising from the same wrongful or negligent act that the person who died could have asserted before death, so long as that claim could have been made as of when the person died. In other words, if a person sustains serious injuries in an accident and suffers for months in the hospital before ultimately succumbing to those injuries, the person’s survivors can file an action seeking damages for both the damages incurred by the person while still alive, as well as for wrongful death-related damages.
The statute of limitations in California for filing a wrongful death action is two years. This is a very important deadline. Once it passes, the wrongful death action can no longer be made.
Damages Recoverable in Wrongful Death Actions
As we mentioned above, at Bohn & Fletcher we are sensitive to the fact that survivors of those killed because of someone else’s wrongful or negligent acts often struggle with putting a dollar value on a life tragically lost. Money does not bring back a loved one, and it does not ease a family’s pain. What it can do, however, is help to replace the deceased person’s income and to help pay for the struggle survivors will through as they mourn and move forward with their lives.
Generally speaking, damages in wrongful death actions (and in personal injury actions generally) fall into two categories: economic (or “special”) damages and non-economic (or “general”) damages. Economic damages are fixed, known costs and expenses associated with the loss of a loved one, such as:
- Uninsured medical expenses;
- Funeral and burial expenses; and
- Lost wages and income.
Non-economic damages seek to compensate difficult-to-define harm resulting from an untimely death, such as:
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of companionship;
- Loss of parent-child relationship; and
- Loss of consortium.
This latter category can be especially difficult to put a value on, and is what sometimes serves as the basis for very large damage awards. But, as we said, there is never a guarantee in any case of recovering damages. And, even when damages are awarded, lawyers must also pay close attention to whether there are resources available to pay them.
Selecting a Wrongful Death Attorney
Not all attorneys have the resources and experience to pursue a wrongful death action in a manner that best serves the interests of the survivors of a person who died tragically. Here are some considerations in evaluating who to hire as a wrongful death attorney.
Past Experience With Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death actions have complications that other cases do not. The deceased cannot speak for him or herself. Emotions run extremely high. Defendants may feel especially motivated not to admit their own fault. There could be parallel criminal proceedings going on. There may be publicity and intrusions on the family’s privacy that they never expected or sought.
At Bohn & Fletcher, we have decades of experience representing plaintiffs in wrongful death actions. We know how to navigate these troubled waters while keeping our clients, most of whom are still grieving an unexpected loss, sheltered as much as possible from the more emotionally trying parts of a case.
Deep Knowledge of the Underlying Subject Matter
Wrongful death actions arise out of a wide variety of tragic accidents. Many involve motor vehicles or worksite incidents, but that is not all. Wrongful death may also result from medical malpractice, a defective consumer product, and intentional violence. In selecting a lawyer to represent you in a wrongful death suit, the lawyer needs not only a strong track record in cases involving untimely death, but also in representing people who suffered the underlying type of accident.
Bohn & Fletcher has a long track record of success in representing clients who suffered from all manners of personal injury, with a particular focus on motor vehicle accidents and premises liability accidents. We are highly accomplished trial lawyers and have handled some significant and high-profile matters. If, however, in an initial consultation, we feel that the survivors of a wrongful death victim would be better served by a law firm with more experience in the type of accident that led to the death, we will never hesitate to say so. It is critically important that the plaintiffs in a wrongful death action get the best possible legal representation for their situation.
Attention to Client Service
Wrongful death actions require a significant degree of compassion and empathy on the part of the attorney representing the plaintiff. Our clients in wrongful death cases come to us in the midst of some of the most difficult moments of their lives. They need clear, honest, caring legal guidance. We cannot begin to understand the pain many of them are going through, but we can listen to them, learn what outcome they need, and get to work in achieving it for them.
A Sense of Mission
Representing surviving spouses and family members in wrongful death actions is some of the most important work personal injury lawyers can do. At Bohn & Fletcher, we take that work very seriously. In wrongful death representations, our clients entrust us with an immensely important legacy and a purpose: to obtain justice and accountability for someone who should not have died, and to achieve an outcome that serves the best interests of those who are still living. We consider it a humbling honor to be given this task, and we put our full effort into it.
San Jose Wrongful Death Attorneys
Spouses and family members of those who have tragically died in a San Jose-area accident or incident deserve the best legal representation possible. The experienced, compassionate attorneys at Bohn & Fletcher have the reputation, resources, and know-how to obtain justice and compensation in wrongful death cases.
If you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligent or wrongful conduct, then contact our team at (408) 279-4222 to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation. We are here to listen and to offer the best advice we can during this difficult time of your life.