If you have lost a loved one due to another person or party’s negligence, you may be entitled to recover compensatory damages. The family as well dependent financial relatives of a deceased victim can typically seek such damages through a wrongful death lawsuit. This is a civil lawsuit that can be filed with the help of an Irvine wrongful death attorney.
However, when filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it is important to understand how the legal process works. This helps ensure that you don’t make any mistakes which can, in turn, delay the decision of your lawsuit. Here is a stage-by-stage look at how a wrongful death lawsuit proceeds.
Stage 1: Contact a Lawyer
A wrongful death lawsuit can be a complicated legal process. You will be dealing with one or more defendants, insurance companies, and the lawyers representing the defendants. You can go at it on your own but you will be hard-pressed to win the lawsuit when facing off the lawyers or legal teams of the other party.
This is why it is immensely important to contact a reputable wrongful death attorney at the earliest. A lawyer will guide you through the process, help you with important documentation, negotiate with the insurance company or at-fault party on your behalf, and ensure that you are able to secure a fair amount of damages.
Stage 2: Bring Together the Documentation
Before you can actually file the lawsuit, you will need to bring together the relevant body of evidence and other related documentation. For instance, you will first need to get the death certificate for the deceased victim. This document can be obtained from the Department of Health. In addition, you must also obtain medical records and any medical documentation surrounding the treatment or autopsy of the victim.
You and your lawyer will also work together to gather relevant evidence that proves the negligence or fault of the defendants. This may involve gathering CCTV footage or other photos and videos of the incident, speaking to any eyewitnesses, and getting a copy of the police report if one was filed at the time of the fatal incident.
Once you have all the required documentation as well as relevant evidence in one place, you are ready to file the lawsuit.
Step 3: Filing the Lawsuit
At this stage, you can file the lawsuit. It is important to note that California’s statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is two years as per the California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60. This means that any such lawsuit must be filed within two years of the death of the victim.
You must also determine where to file the lawsuit. This typically involves understanding which court may have jurisdiction over the particular type of wrongful death lawsuit that you are filing. Your lawyer can help you understand the issues pertaining to jurisdiction. Once the issue of jurisdiction is sorted, you can file the lawsuit with the relevant court.
Step 4: Notifying the Defendant
Right after you file the wrongful death lawsuit, you must also notify the defendant of the initiation of the legal process. This is known as the service of process. After being notified, the defendant is under a legal obligation to appear before the court and respond to your lawsuit. The notice also provides the defendant with an opportunity to try and reach an agreement with you before the case goes to trial.
Step 5: Legal Discovery
When no agreement is reached between both sides before the trial, the process of legal discovery begins. This is so called because at this stage, both sides are allowed to discover the evidence and information that the other side has regarding the wrongful death incident. Although legal discovery is a relatively simple process, the defendant may sometimes refuse to share certain information. You can then seek the help of a court in obtaining this information from the defendant.
Step 6: The Trial
After the legal discovery is complete, the trial formally begins. This involves hearings where both sides present their arguments through legal representatives. The presiding judge or a jury will make a decision at the end of the trial.
Why Hire an Orange County Wrongful Death Attorney?
As noted above, the process and procedures involved in a wrongful death lawsuit can be complicated. On your own, it can be quite hard for you to win the lawsuit and secure suitable damages. This is where an attorney can be of immense value to your case.
Here at the Crockett Law Group, we help file wrongful death lawsuits on the behalf of victims’ family or relatives. Our aim is to make sure that you are able to get the maximum amount of compensation for your tragic loss. Reach out to us today to discuss your Orange County wrongful death claim with our lawyers.