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Bakersfield Wrongful Death Lawyer

Various causes can lead to a wrongful death, such as a bicycle accident, pedestrian accident, or a hazardous location. These unfortunate tragedies can leave a long-lasting impact on the deceased victim’s surviving family. Those experiencing such a heavy loss may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault individual or entity to recover financial compensation.

At West Coast Trial Lawyers, we extend our deepest condolences to victims who had a beloved family member pass away due to wrongful death. Our Bakersfield legal team is available 24/7 to take a look at your case and guide you through each step of the legal process to ensure you get the justice you deserve.

To schedule a free consultation, you may reach out to us by calling (213) 927-3700 or completing our quick online contact form.

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What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is brought by the decedent’s estate or surviving family members. The intent is to get justice for the loss of a loved one by pursuing legal action against the at-fault individual or entity. 

How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?

To prove wrongful death, you will need to collect evidence that shows the defendant’s negligent or intentional behavior ultimately causing the victim’s death. The elements you will need to present in the lawsuit include the following:

  • The defendant owed the victim a duty of care,
  • The defendant breached their duty of care, and 
  • The defendant’s reckless behavior resulted in the victim’s death. 

You may also provide details of the damages you endured as a result of your loved one’s passing, such as:

  • Medical bills,
  • Funeral expenses,
  • Emotional distress,
  • Future financial contributions, and
  • Loss of consortium, love, companionship, and guidance.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Bakersfield?

According to CCP 377.60, the surviving family members of the deceased victim may file a wrongful death lawsuit. This includes the:

  • Spouse,
  • Children,
  • Dependent minors,
  • Putative spouse,
  • Children of the putative spouse,
  • Stepchildren,
  • Parents, and
  • Anyone entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession.

Since Bakersfield follows the one-action rule, family members entitled to sue must file a single wrongful death lawsuit against the liable party. This rule was established to help the court system manage cases more effectively rather than having to deal with multiple similar claims.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death in Bakersfield?

The statute of limitations on wrongful death in Bakersfield is two years from the date of when the victim passed away. The discovery rule may apply if:

  • The wrongful death was not immediately known by the family members.
  • The at-fault party tried to hide the death or their liability, which could take longer for the family to discover the victim’s passing. 
  • Someone’s negligence caused the victim’s death, but the family did not know about it until later on.

In either of these cases, the statute of limitations will begin once the loved one’s death is known about by the family members. If no lawsuit has been filed before the deadline, legal action can no longer be taken. 

How Long Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take?

The duration of when a wrongful death lawsuit will settle may vary depending on the factors involved. The investigation process will take a certain amount of time to complete since it involves collecting evidence, speaking to witnesses, and discussing your case with your Bakersfield wrongful death attorney. 

Once that is done, you’ll have to draft and file your complaint. You will then need to have this served on the defendant and wait for a reply. You could hear back from them days, weeks, or even months later. 

After the response, you will start the discovery process, which is when both you and the defendant exchange important documents and evidence to one another. This could also take some time.

Throughout the wrongful death case, both sides can negotiate a settlement. You can participate in a mediation, in which a third-party (mediator) is overseeing what you and the defendant are discussing. If an agreement is made, the lawsuit can be settled relatively quickly. 

However, if you and the opposing side are still not satisfied with the offers being made, the wrongful death suit will continue until you reach a common ground. It could head to trial, and from there, the time-frame is unpredictable as it depends on how complex your situation is. 

After a settlement has been made, you may be presented with the option of submitting an appeal if you are not pleased with the final decision. If this happens, you may have to wait for an extended period of time until a resolution has been reached.

How Much Are Wrongful Death Settlements?

Each wrongful death lawsuit has different circumstances from the other, meaning that there is no exact answer for how much the settlement will be worth. Damages will be awarded based on what is provided by both sides. Typically, a victim is given economic damages (tangible expenses) and non-economic damages (intangible expenses) to cover the losses they sustained due to their loved one’s passing. 

To get an idea of what you could be entitled to, you should speak to a Bakersfield wrongful death lawyer and have them evaluate your case. 

What Is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Medical Malpractice?

Although wrongful death and medical malpractice share similar concepts in the legal field, they each happen under different circumstances.

A wrongful death can occur due to a variety of factors, including motor vehicle collisions, defective products, workplace accidents, and clinical negligence. The surviving family members or estate will need to prove how the at-fault party breached their duty of care and that it lead to the victim’s death.

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare expert fails to provide the appropriate treatment needed, which causes the patient to endure a serious or fatal injury. In order for medical malpractice to be considered, the following factors must have occurred:

  • The healthcare worker did not follow the proper standard of care,
  • The patient’s injury was caused by negligence, and
  • The patient endured a significant amount of damages, such as lost wages, birth injuries, catastrophic injuries, or pain and suffering.

Common types of cases where a medical malpractice lawsuit could be filed include:

  • Misdiagnosing a condition,
  • Performing an unnecessary surgery,
  • Early discharge from the hospital,
  • Failing to act promptly to lab results,
  • Not following up with the patient,
  • Prescribing the wrong medication or dosage, and
  • Making mistakes during surgery.

Both wrongful death and medical malpractice may have similar parties who can sue to recover compensation. However, the legal options presented for both types of cases will vary. A class action lawsuit could be presented if multiple patients endured some form of incorrect treatment, whereas in wrongful death lawsuits, only one claim can be made against the liable party under California’s one-action rule.

What Does a Bakersfield Wrongful Death Lawyer Do?

At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our Bakersfield wrongful death lawyers will protect your legal rights, negotiate with the opposing side, represent you in court if needed, and get you the compensation you deserve for your losses.

Our legal team has over 100 years of handling personal injury lawsuits, and have won more than $1.5 billion in settlements and judgments on behalf of our clients. With our ongoing success, we are confident that we will recover financial damages you endured in the aftermath of the wrongful death.

To schedule a free consultation, we welcome you to contact us by calling (213) 927-3700 or completing our easy contact form.

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More Resources

Suing the Police in a Wrongful Death Case

Available Damages in a Wrongful Death Case

California Wrongful Death Laws and Assumption of Risk

Child Wrongful Death Laws in California

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