Losing a loved one or family member to a preventable accident or a malicious attack can be devastating, but what if the criminal courts can’t help you get the closure you need? What options are available to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions?

If you’re suffering through a situation like this in Fremont, don’t wait any longer. Call the Fremont personal injury attorneys at OnderLaw today. We have decades of experience helping our clients get compensation for losses in civil court through a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, and we can use that experience to help you. Call us today for a free consultation and let us determine whether you have a valid wrongful death claim. Let us help you and your family get the closure and justice you deserve. Call OnderLaw today.

What Is Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death is a death caused by another person’s wrongful act or neglect. “Wrongful death” is a legal tool used to hold entities financially responsible for their negligent actions or malicious acts. This type of case can be appropriate in many different situations where someone’s negligent acts resulted in death, such as medical malpractice or defective product deaths. It can also be used to hold a party acquitted of criminal charges to account in civil court for the material and immaterial losses they’ve caused. The burden of proof in civil cases is lower than for criminal cases.

Who Can Be Held Responsible?

Any number of entities can be held responsible for a wrongful death. Exactly who might be responsible depends on the circumstances of the accident or action that caused the death. Some examples of plausible wrongful death scenarios include:

  • A truck driver drives drunk and strikes another vehicle, killing the occupant.
  • A chemical manufacturing company doesn’t take adequate safety precautions, ending in incurable disease and death for an employee.
  • A surgeon makes a critical mistake in a dangerous operation and accidentally kills their patient.
  • A toy manufacturer doesn’t perform enough testing on a new product, and a missed hazard leads to the death of a child.
  • A lifeguard is negligent in their duties and fails to prevent a drowning.
  • A car manufacturer designs and produces a part that fails at a critical moment, ending in the death of the vehicle’s occupant.


Who Is Eligible to Bring a Claim?

Wrongful death claims and lawsuits are usually brought by the decedent’s family or loved ones. California law allows the following concerned parties to bring a wrongful death claim:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Domestic partner
  • Issue of deceased children
  • Parents
  • Legal guardians
  • Putative spouse (anyone who believes in good faith that they were legally married to the decedent)
  • Stepchildren
  • Financially dependent minors


Compensation for a Wrongful Death Claim

Compensation for wrongful death varies widely and depends on the circumstances that caused the death. It’s nearly impossible to determine how much compensation you might obtain for a wrongful death without a detailed review of your case. In general, the more severe your losses relating to the death of your loved one, the more you should demand in financial compensation.

You can be compensated for a variety of material and immaterial losses attributed to the death, which are referred to as damages.

The damages allowed in wrongful death claims differ slightly from those allowed in other types of personal injury claims. Some examples of economic damages, or losses with a specific financial value, include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of gifts and benefits
  • Loss of household services
  • Any future economic gains


You may also claim noneconomic damages in wrongful death claims, or damages with no assigned monetary value. These losses relate to the mental and emotional strain of losing your loved one and not to the financial losses suffered. There are many types, such as:

  • Loss of companionship, love, and support
  • Loss of sexual relations
  • Loss of training and guidance


The following are specifically disallowed when determining compensation for wrongful death claims as they are generally associated with the death of any loved one or family member:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Grief, sorrow, or mental anguish
  • The poverty or wealth of the claimant


Proving Negligence or Malice in California

In order to obtain compensation for a wrongful death claim, you must prove the responsible party was either negligent or acting with intentional malice.

Proving negligence requires showing that the entity responsible for the death had a responsibility to behave in a way that didn’t endanger others, did not hold to that responsibility, their lack of care caused an accident, and that accident caused the death.

Proving malice is slightly different. Unlike in criminal cases, you don’t need to prove that the responsible party is guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt because wrongful death claims are handled in civil, not criminal court. You must show that the responsible party had the intent to harm the decedent, that they made non-consensual contact, such as striking with a hand or a weapon, and that contact caused the death.

If you can show, with evidence, that the responsible party was either negligent or acted with malicious intent, you should be able to claim compensation for your losses.

Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Claims

California’s statute of limitations law states that you have two years from the date of the death to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. If you attempt to file suit after this date has passed, a judge will likely decline to hear your case.

The exception to this deadline is with suits against government entities or agencies. In these cases, you have six months from the date of the death to file a suit or administrative claim.

Fremont Accident Statistics

Here are some crime and fatal accident statistics for Fremont and elsewhere:

  • Reports of aggravated assault in Fremont climbed from 177 in 2016 to 246 in 2020.
  • Reports of violent crimes have dropped from 502 in 2018 to 407 in 2020.
  • There were 48 deaths due to unintentional injuries per 100,000 people nationwide in 2018.
  • There were almost 40,000 motor vehicle traffic deaths nationwide in 2019.
  • The leading cause of death for people ages 25-44 nationwide in 2018 was unintentional injuries.


Why Do I Need an Attorney for My Wrongful Death Claim?

The simple answer to this question is that an attorney with experience in wrongful death claims can help ensure that you get the compensation you’re owed for the death of a loved one, but there are several more reasons why hiring an attorney is a good idea.

  • Your attorney can explain the process. A wrongful death claim or lawsuit is a complicated procedure that requires the help of a lawyer to properly understand. We’ve been through this process many times before, and we can help make the law work for you and your family.
  • Your attorney does more than provide knowledge. Although legal representation is our stated goal, your attorney will be a source of support and perspective while your family processes a tragic loss. We’ve helped many people through this type of situation. We will allow you the time you need to deal with the trauma while we handle the logistics of your case.
  • We can save you time and money. Filing a wrongful death claim or lawsuit on your own is technically possible, but doing so may result in delays to your claim or lower compensation amounts. Your attorney will be able to complete the necessary forms and documentation to support your claim much faster than you would without assistance.
  • We know how much your claim is worth. Estimating the amount of compensation for your claim is done by examining the losses you sustain as a result of the death. Although economic losses are easy to tally, determining the amount of noneconomic damages is completely subjective and varies with each case. Your attorney can review prior case law and your circumstances to help you reach a number that properly compensates you and your family for the loss.


Why Hire OnderLaw to Represent Me?

Since 2002, OnderLaw has helped residents of Fremont and elsewhere to get the compensation they deserve for personal injury or wrongful death claims. We have experience with every type of claim imaginable, from auto accidents to defective product cases worth hundreds of millions of dollars. One of the reasons our clients choose us is that we don’t back away from a fight with a corporate titan or government agency.

We don’t want financial stress to keep our clients from choosing us to represent them. We work on contingency, which means that we only take payment if we get you compensation. If we don’t get some form of settlement or award for you, we don’t get paid.

We’ve achieved amazing results for our clients, and we may be able to do the same for you. Head to our Testimonials page to learn more.

Call OnderLaw Today

Call today for a free consultation. The statute of limitations has likely already started running, so time is a factor. Let us help you and your family get the closure and compensation you need to move on after a wrongful death. Call OnderLaw today.