Wrongful Death Attorneys Serving Santa Barbara

wrongful death attorney in santa barbara

If your loved one died because of another person’s negligence or wrongdoing, you may want to know what options you have to hold them accountable for their actions. Look no further. A Santa Barbara wrongful death attorney at Frederick Law Firm can help. 

We understand the pain and sadness the loss of a loved one can cause. Your loved one’s death may leave the surviving family members struggling financially. While filing a wrongful death lawsuit will not bring your loved one back, it can help make up for the financial losses suffered by your family. You can worry about processing the death of your loved one while we take care of the complexities of your wrongful death claim. Contact a wrongful death lawyer in Santa Barbara today to start reviewing your claim.

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit? 

A wrongful death lawsuit allows certain surviving family members to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party for the losses associated with their loved one’s death. The parties entitled to file a wrongful death claim include certain family members of the deceased, including: 

  • Their surviving spouse,
  • Their children,
  • Domestic partners, or
  • Descendants of any of the decedent’s children who are no longer living.

If none of these parties exist at the time of the decedent’s death, the California laws governing intestate succession dictate who can file the claim.

California also authorizes a suit called a survival action. Unlike a wrongful death claim, a survival action is a claim brought on behalf of the deceased for medical expenses and lost wages they would have received. A survival action is permitted only when the decedent survived for at least a short time after the accident. A survival action is brought by the decedent’s estate and distributed according to the terms of their will. If the decedent did not have a will, it is distributed according to California intestacy laws.

What Kind of Accidents Lead to Wrongful Death Claims?

Wrongful death claims can arise in the following scenarios:

This is a non-exhaustive list of accidents that can result in a wrongful death. Anytime one person’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing causes another person’s death, the surviving family members may qualify to file a wrongful death action.  

What Compensation Is Available in a Wrongful Death Claim?

In a wrongful death case, the surviving family of the decedent receives compensatory damages if they prevail in their claim or enter a settlement agreement before trial. The settlement or judgment is designed to compensate the surviving family members for the loss of the value of the decedent’s life. Compensatory damages include both economic and non-economic damages. 

Economic Damages

Economic damages are quantifiable monetary losses incurred as a result of the wrongful death. Economic damages in a wrongful death claim might include:

  • Loss of gifts or benefits,
  • Funeral expenses,
  • Value of household services provided by the decedent,
  • Loss of future income, and
  • Loss of future financial support. 

Wrongful death settlement values vary based on the circumstances of each victim. An attorney at Frederick Law Firm can compile documentation of your losses to reach an accurate estimate.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages include intangible losses such as:

  • Loss of moral support,
  • Loss of love and affection, and
  • Lack of guidance from the decedent.

It is tricky to assign a dollar value to non-economic losses. A wrongful death attorney in Santa Barbara can help you make these calculations by consulting with qualified experts to estimate your non-economic damages.

How Can a Santa Barbara Wrongful Death Lawyer Help My Case?

Many wrongful death actions occur due to another person’s negligence. The plaintiff, or the person filing the lawsuit, bears the burden of proving that the at-fault party acted negligently and that negligence caused the deceased’s death. Proving negligence requires four elements:

  1. The at-fault party owed a legal duty to the decedent to act in a reasonably prudent manner under the circumstances;
  2. They breached that legal duty;
  3. The at-fault party’s breach caused the injury or accident that resulted in the deceased’s death; and
  4. You incurred actual damages as a result of the deceased’s death. 

Remember, negligence requires proof of each element. If you satisfy three elements, but cannot show that the at-fault party caused your loved one’s death, you did not prove negligence. If you cannot prove negligence, your wrongful death claim will fail.

Even seasoned attorneys encounter issues showing a party was negligent. Our Santa Barbara wrongful death attorneys have extensive experience handling these claims and will take your case all the way to trial if necessary. 

How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Suit?

In California, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims allows surviving family members to bring their claims for up to two years following the death of their loved one. The statute of limitations is the time period after which the court will bar your claim from proceeding. 

If you do not file your wrongful death claim within the two-year time frame, you may lose your right to recover your losses. If you try to file a wrongful death claim after the California statute of limitations has expired, the judge will likely dismiss your case.

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney at Frederick Law Firm Today to Discuss Your Case

Our founding attorney, Jacqueline Vitti Frederick, has over 40 years of experience helping clients with their wrongful death claims. Regardless of whether your case proceeds to trial or ends with a settlement, having an experienced wrongful death law firm in your corner is one of the best things you can do to increase your chances of recovery. If you lost a loved one due to the negligent or wrongful conduct of another person, contact Frederick Law Firm today so we can start reviewing your case.