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Santa Barbara Wrongful Death Lawyer


Losing a loved one is a gut-wrenching, traumatic event. It can turn your life upside down. The pain and grief can be overwhelming, especially when the loss is sudden and the consequence of a preventable accident. If you lost a loved one, our deepest condolences go out to you and your family. The memory of your loved one needs to be honored, and the at-fault party needs to be held responsible. This is why you should consider retaining the services of a Santa Barbara, wrongful death attorney and pursue a claim against the at-fault individual or corporation.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

You may be surprised to learn that, under California law, only a few individuals can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a decedent. According to California Code of Civil Procedure section 337.60, et seq., the following individuals are legally allowed to bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of a lost loved one:

  • the surviving spouse or domestic partner of the decedent
  • the children of the decedent
  • the parents of the decedent
  • the siblings of the decedent

This means that if you were dating the decedent or even engaged to be married, you may be prohibited from filing a wrongful death claim on their behalf. Extended relatives such as cousins or grandparents are also likely prohibited from filing a wrongful death claim.

Damages You Can Pursue Through a Wrongful Death Claim

Typically, two types of damages can be pursued through a wrongful death claim – economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include the financial support provided by the decedent to their family (including expected support based on their life expectancy), funeral and burial costs, and medical expenses accrued as a result of the accident.

Noneconomic damages are more imperceptible. They include the emotional trauma of suddenly losing a loved one, such as grief, sorrow, and mental anguish.

In some circumstances, you can also pursue punitive damages. These are monetary damages intended to punish the defendant, or defendants, for egregious conduct that caused the death of your loved one, including personal injury and employment claims. They are meant to deter the defendant from acting in the same or similar way in the future.

Causes of Wrongful Death

Numerous situations can ultimately result in an unexpected death. If the situation was caused by the carelessness of another driver, a doctor, a consumer product, etc., you may have grounds to pursue a wrongful death claim.

Types of wrongful death claims often arise from:

  • Car wrecks
  • Trucking accidents
  • Bus accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Dangerous consumer products
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Airplane accidents
  • Swimming pool drowning
Do I Really Need a Santa Barbara Wrongful Death Lawyer?

When you lose a loved one, you need to focus on the grieving process. You should not be spending your time speaking to an insurance claims adjuster or having to file paperwork with the court. Let a lawyer take some of the burden off of your shoulders. You need to focus on rebuilding your life and moving forward.

Hiring a wrongful death attorney also makes sense because no upfront costs are associated with retaining a lawyer. This is because wrongful death lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not pay anything unless and until your lawyer achieves a financial recovery in your case. In addition, most wrongful death attorneys offer a free consultation, so there is no cost associated with simply speaking to a lawyer and discussing your legal options.

The video below explains more about wrongful death claims.

How a Santa Barbara Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help

Hiring a wrongful death attorney can dramatically improve your chances of receiving a large settlement or jury verdict instead of filing a legal claim pro se. For example, with the assistance of a lawyer, a family received one of the largest jury verdicts in California history for the death of a minor. The tragic case involved a Starline tour bus accident that resulted in the death of a student. A jury found that the bus company was liable for the crash and awarded the family $26 million in monetary damages.

In another example, a California jury entered a $5 million jury verdict against an assisted living center that allowed a resident with dementia to leave the community. The resident died as a result. According to McKnight Senior Living, the jury ordered the assisted living community to pay $2.1 million in damages for the wrongful death, $2.5 million in punitive damages, and $400,000 for elder abuse.

Another example is the verdict entered in favor of the family of a firefighter who died in a bike wreck. The verdict was $39 million against one of the nation’s largest landscaping companies, according to Chron.com. The firefighter was reportedly riding his bike when he was hit by a landscaping trailer stopped in traffic.

Do Not Delay in Speaking to an Attorney

If you are contemplating legal action against the party that caused the accident that took the life of your loved one, you need to speak to an attorney sooner rather than later. Under California law, a wrongful death claim must be filed within a specific period known as the statute of limitations. You must file a wrongful death claim within two years of your loved one’s death date. It could be barred if your wrongful death case is not filed within two years.

Santa Barbara Wrongful Death Attorney

We recognize the steps required to secure the compensation your family justly merits for your loss. Contact our law firm at (805) 372-0200 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice. Since 1982, we’ve served as injury attorneys, advocating for families devastated by tragic events, including car accidents and cases of wrongful death. See our past cases on our Verdicts and Settlements page.

Editor’s Note: updated [cha 10.11.23] sb bw [cs 991] Image by myeongae lim from Pixabay