When you go to court for a wrongful death case in Los Angeles, an attorney for your family will present evidence intended to show that the defendant was liable for your loved one’s death and that you are entitled to damages.
Most Wrongful Death Cases Are Settled out of Court
Wrongful death lawsuits typically do not go to trial, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Taking a case to court can be a long and expensive process, and parties on both sides generally realize that it is in their best interest to negotiate an out-of-court settlement.
In some instances, however, the two sides are unable to agree on an amount of compensation. If that happens, the case may go to trial. If a jury trial is waived, the matter can go before a judge.
Procedure to Decide a Wrongful Death Case
The trial process will begin with jury selection, according to the California Courts. Groups of potential jurors will answer questions to find out if they would be able to consider the matter impartially. Once the group has been whittled down to the number required for the trial and alternates, the proceedings can begin.
Attorneys for both sides will make opening statements outlining their interpretation of the case. They may explain their theories about what happened and who was responsible and explain the issues that the jury will have to decide.
The parties will then present evidence. They may call witnesses to testify and may provide photographs, videos, medical records, and other exhibits. The attorney representing the plaintiff will present evidence first, and the lawyer representing the defendant will have an opportunity to ask questions. Once the plaintiff’s attorney has finished presenting evidence, a lawyer for the defendant will do the same.
After both sides have finished presenting their case, they will make closing statements. Those are their summaries of the evidence that was presented and the conclusions that they want the jury to draw.
The judge will instruct the jurors on the law that applies to the case. The jurors will then go to a private room to deliberate or discuss the evidence presented in court. When the jurors have reached a verdict, they will report it to the judge, and the parties involved in the case will be notified.
Essential Elements of a Wrongful Death Case
An attorney representing your family will need to prove several key points to prevail in a wrongful death lawsuit. The lawyer must show that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care and violated that duty. For example, all drivers have a responsibility to obey the rules of the road and to exercise caution to avoid an accident. If the defendant was speeding or driving while drunk, he or she failed to meet the duty of care owed to your relative.
The lawyer representing your family will next have to demonstrate that the defendant’s intentional or negligent actions or failure to take action caused your loved one’s death. An attorney will have to show a clear link between the defendant’s behavior and your family member’s death. If your attorney fails to prove any of these key elements, you may be unable to obtain a financial award to compensate you for your relative’s untimely death.
How a Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help You
If your loved one died because of another party’s negligence, you might be struggling to cope with the emotional and financial devastation. You and other members of your family may be entitled to compensation for medical bills incurred before your relative’s death, funeral and burial costs, your relative’s lost income, and the emotional pain and suffering that you will experience because of the sudden and tragic death.
You may miss out on your opportunity to obtain a financial settlement that you are entitled to if you do not act quickly. The statute of limitations to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California is two years in most cases, but it may be shorter under some circumstances.
A wrongful death lawyer can tell you what you need to know about the statute of limitations that applies to your case, what forms and amount of compensation you and other members of your family may be entitled to, the burden of proof in a wrongful death lawsuit, the trial process, and other important issues.
Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney
People who have lost a loved one unexpectedly and who are struggling to make ends meet sometimes think that they could not possibly afford to hire an attorney. Concerns about legal fees should not stop you from seeking justice.
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm operates on contingency. That means that families who come to us seeking help with a wrongful death case do not have to pay us any money unless we recover a financial award on their behalf. Call our office today at (800) 223-5115 to discuss your case with a member of our staff.