Losing a loved one due to the negligence of another person or entity is tragic and painful. In the wake of such a loss, you have to go through a hard time as a family member of the deceased victim. For the wrongful death of your dear one, an Orange County wrongful death attorney can help you seek damages from the negligent party.
However, your claim to damages as a relative or family member of the deceased hinges on several factors. It is important to get legal guidance on how to proceed with the claim before you file it. You must also avoid some common mistakes which can jeopardize the claim.
Filing a Late Claim
For Orange County wrongful death claims, the California statute of limitations must be followed. As per the California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1, the statute is set at two years. This means that any wrongful death claim in California must be filed within two years of the accident.
As the family of the deceased, you may be grieving following your tragic loss. However, you must take legal measures to initiate the claim without wasting any time. Preparing a claim can take some time. If you are delayed and the statute expires, your claim will not be successful.
There are some situations where the statute period may be extended. For instance, if the family of the deceased finds out at a later period that someone’s negligence caused the death, the statute may be tolled from this date of discovery. However, such extensions are possible only in exceptional situations.
Speaking With the Media
Wrongful death incidents involve the negligence of a person or entity. This is why media outlets may take up a case like this and provide it coverage. In the course of its coverage, media persons may try to contact you or other family members to get their version of the story. However, these requests must be turned down.
On one hand, these requests do not respect your privacy as a grieving family following the loss. At the same time, any public statements you give on the media can be used against you when you file the wrongful death claim. Insurance companies may use these statements to avoid paying up damages. This is why it is best to avoid giving any public statements whatsoever regarding your painful loss.
Talking to the Insurance Company
In most wrongful death cases, you have to deal with the insurance company of the at-fault party. For instance, if your dear one was killed in a fatal accident caused by a DUI driver, you have a valid wrongful death claim. In such a case, the claim will be filed with the DUI driver’s insurance company. The insurer then attempts to deny the claim or dispute it in order to minimize the amount of damages it has to pay.
A common trick used by insurance companies is to contact you and question you about the wrongful death incident. Any answers you make, on the phone, in person, or in writing, can be used against you in a court of law. This is why it is critically important that you don’t speak to an insurance agent at all. If you must respond to the requests of the insurance company, it is best to do so through an attorney.
Accepting the First Offer
When you file a wrongful death claim, an insurance company may make you a quick offer. This is typically very low and considerably less than what you rightfully deserve. You may be tempted to accept the offer and avoid going through the legal process but don’t.
A good legal firm can strike a contingency arrangement with you whereby you don’t have to pay any legal fees for the claim. The law firm can then negotiate with the insurer to ensure that you get a fair deal. This may take some time but the settlement you ultimately get may be many times the initial offer made by the insurance company.
Hire a Reliable Orange County Wrongful Death Attorney
As noted above, you will need expert legal guidance at every step of a wrongful death claim in order to secure a fair amount of damages. This is where we can help you. Here at the Crockett Law Group, our attorneys are highly experienced in negotiating with the insurance companies to get the compensation you deserve. We also offer compassionate legal advice, keeping in view that you may be grieving after losing a dear one.
Get in touch with us now to discuss your claim with our attorneys in a free consultation.