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Manteca Wrongful Death Lawyer


The sudden loss of a family member can turn your world upside down, leaving you emotionally devastated and under tremendous financial strain, especially when the victim was a primary income earner in the household. Sadly, many Manteca families struggle with the unexpected loss of a loved one from preventable accidents such as car wrecks.

For example, a fatal collision occurred between a GMC Yukon and a Toyota Camry at Woodward Road and McKinley Avenue. The passenger in the Toyota Camry died in the crash. If that was not bad enough, the Yukon driver reportedly fled the accident scene, which may indicate that they caused the crash.

Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim

After the shocking death of a loved one, bringing legal action is probably the furthest thing from your mind. However, while grieving for the death of your loved one, you should discuss your legal options with a Manteca wrongful death lawyer. Filing a wrongful death claim and holding the at-fault driver accountable can help provide some semblance of justice for you and your family and a sense of closure. Also, it can help ease the financial burden associated with sudden death.

Understanding the Elements of a Wrongful Death Action

Under California law, a wrongful death occurs when someone causes the death of another through their negligent actions, which typically involve some reckless or careless action or inaction. An act is negligent when it is one that a reasonable person wouldn’t have done under similar circumstances.

To establish a wrongful death, your Manteca wrongful death lawyer needs to prove the following:

  • That the defendant had a duty of care towards the decedent.
  • The defendant breached this duty of care.
  • This breach of duty of care directly caused the death.
  • There are resultant damages caused by the breach of duty of care.
Understanding Who May File a Wrongful Death Action

In California, specific family members of the decedent are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This means if you were a close friend of the decedent or dating the decedent, then you have no legal right to file a lawsuit on their behalf. The people allowed to bring a claim include:

  • The surviving spouse (or domestic partner) of the decedent
  • The decedent’s child or children
  • The parents and/or siblings of the decedent
Damages in a Wrongful Death Action

The objective of a wrongful death claim is to ensure the decedent’s family is adequately compensated for their harm and losses. When determining a monetary damage amount, the following factors are taken into account:

  • The relationship that existed between the deceased and the plaintiff at the time of death.
  • The decedent’s income and projected life span.
  • The monetary value of the services the decedent offered to the family.
  • Expenses incurred as a result of death. This includes things like funeral costs and burial expenses.

Also, in particular unique relationships, there are some additional factors like:

  • For spouses, the damages consider the loss of protection and companionship and pain and suffering.
  • Children of the decedent are entitled to compensation for the loss of guidance, instruction, and companionship. This is in addition to the mental pain and suffering that results from the death of a loved one.
  • The decedent’s parents might also get compensation for the resulting pain and suffering from death.

In addition, a jury may award punitive damages designed to punish the defendant for their outrageous and shocking behavior. However, these damages are typically only awarded when there is clear evidence that the defendant was grossly negligent. After reviewing the facts of your case, your Manteca wrongful death attorney will let you know if you can get punitive damages in your claim.

How the Wrongful Death Claims Process Works

If you and your attorney decide that filing a wrongful death claim is the way to go, gathering enough evidence to support your claim is one of the first actions your Manteca wrongful death lawyer will take. As the plaintiff, you have the burden of proof to establish the defendant’s liability.

Once evidence is collected, your lawyer will likely submit a demand letter to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Once this demand letter has been mailed and received, there is usually an attempt at settlement negotiations. Often, a claims representative with the insurance company will make an opening offer substantially less than you should reasonably accept. Your lawyer will make a counteroffer, and the negotiations will continue until they prove unproductive.

If the insurance company eventually makes a reasonable offer and accepts it, the case concludes, and you do not have to go through a jury trial. Deciding whether to accept a settlement or go to trial is a decision you should make with the guidance and counsel of your Manteca wrongful death attorney. As the client, you retain the ultimate authority to accept a settlement or have the case before a judge and jury.

If you go to trial, you must be prepared for the litigation process, including being deposed and testifying in open court. It will also require more patience since jury trials are usually scheduled for months in a civil court.

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

Make sure settlement negotiations do not drag on for too long. A lawsuit must be filed in a Manteca courthouse within two years of your loved one’s death. This is due to the statute of limitations. Your attorney should be cognizant of this period and file on time.

The following video provides more details on a wrongful death claim.

Contact a Manteca Wrongful Death Attorney Today

If you have lost someone close to you due to someone else’s negligence, please call us at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly, and compassionate advice. We have been helping families recover compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death losses since 1982. We take cases on a contingency fee. This means you pay at the successful conclusion of your case. No fees are due upfront. See our Past Verdicts and Settlements.

Editor’s Note: updated [cha 8.31.23] sb [cs 1023 bw] Photo by Pixabay