Agoura Hills Personal Injury Lawyers | Accident Attorneys
Agoura Hills Wrongful Death Attorneys
If your loved one died in a preventable accident that someone else caused, the resultant grief can make every day feel like a struggle. Our wrongful death attorneys in Agoura Hills understand the trauma that you and your family are facing. We can review the circumstances of the accident to determine if you may be entitled to monetary damages.
We offer free consultations to prospective clients and accept these cases on a contingency fee basis. Call 1-800-GO-HARRIS to schedule a case evaluation.
How Will My Attorney Prove Liability?
Liability refers to legal responsibility. Generally, liability in a wrongful death case is established by proving negligence, which occurs when one party breaches the duty of care owed to another. Sometimes, though, liability is established by proving intentional wrongdoing or strict liability. And in some scenarios, it is possible for a party who was not directly involved in the fatal accident to be held vicariously liable.
In order to prove liability, your Agoura Hills wrongful death lawyer must determine why the fatal accident happened in the first place. If the death was caused by another party’s negligence, your attorney will have to demonstrate how the opposing party breached the duty of care owed to the deceased. In other words, it must be shown that a reasonable person would have behaved differently in the same situation, resulting in a different outcome.
Naturally, the strongest evidence of liability will depend on the circumstances. In most cases, though, it includes some combination of the following:
- Photographs of the scene;
- Eyewitness deposition;
- Expert witness deposition;
- The official police report;
- Relevant incident reports; and/or
- Surveillance footage of the fatal accident.
What Does “Causation” Mean?
Causation refers to the link between the tort and the resulting damages. To prove causation, your Agoura Hills wrongful death attorney must demonstrate how the death would not have happened but for the tort.
This may sound straightforward enough, but establishing causation can pose a challenge in certain scenarios. For instance, if your loved one was hurt in a car accident and then spent several days in the hospital before passing, the insurance company may try to argue that the death occurred due to medical malpractice and not as a result of the collision. There are many kinds of evidence your attorney may use to counter a causation dispute, the nature of which will depend on the circumstances.
What Damages Might Be Recoverable?
In the state of California, it may be possible to bring two types of actions after a wrongful death: a wrongful death claim and a survival action. These are typically combined and brought to court together.
There are several key differences between these two types of actions. For example, a wrongful death claim is intended to compensate eligible beneficiaries for the losses they incur as a result of the death, while a survival action is brought to pursue damages the deceased incurred between the fatal accident and his or her death. As such, the kinds of damages available in each type of action are different.
Specifically, in a wrongful death claim, it may be possible to recover compensation for loss of financial contributions, lost benefits or gifts, funeral and burial costs, and loss of services. It may also be possible to obtain compensation for loss of protection, advice, training, and love, and if there is a surviving spouse, he or she may be entitled to compensation for loss for sexual relations.
In a survival action, recoverable damages may include medical costs, property damage, lost income and, in some cases, punitive damages.
What If the Opposing Party Disputes My Claim?
Unfortunately, even if you have sufficient evidence of liability, causation, and damages, that doesn’t mean the opposing party will consent to paying a fair settlement. If the defense refuses to cooperate, filing a lawsuit would be the next step. Your case would then proceed to discovery. If no settlement is reached at that point, the case may proceed to alternative dispute resolution and possibly all the way to trial.
Discuss Your Case with an Agoura Hills Wrongful Death Lawyer
At Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, we always treat clients with the utmost compassion through every stage of the proceedings. But when we take on a wrongful death case, our team makes an extra effort to ensure the claims process is as stress-free as possible for surviving family members of the deceased. We will tenaciously represent your interests and aggressively fight for the highest possible settlement or verdict.
Our team is not afraid to take a case all the way to trial if necessary. For a free consultation, contact us HERE or call 1-800-GO-HARRIS.