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An Overview of Wrongful Death Claims and Wrongful Death Attorneys

Aug 17, 2007
Wrongful death claims are based on the death caused by someone else's lack of carelessness or another's intentional infliction of physical harm. Death claims can be caused and often are caused by commercial truck accidents, but they can be caused under many different circumstances. They can be caused by electrocution when someone leaves live electric wires exposed, it can be caused by the careless discharge of a gun, it can be caused in motorcycle accidents, by dog attacks, and by medical doctors as well. Surprisingly medical doctors cause an extraordinarily large number of deaths.

Serious injury and wrongful death attorneys in San Diego, California and throughout the state, and probably the whole country, file suits on behalf of families of the deceased against all culprits. The defendants are often just the perpetrator, but sometimes the defendant includes another party. Usually the second party is the person who entrusted the perpetrator with a vehicle or something else that led to the incident. When a commercial truck is involved a second party besides the driver is often the employer. Usually it is a natural person, but sometimes it is a corporation or other business entity. Sometimes the defendant is a government agency such as transit agency. An employee is acting for the employer and unless the act is intentional, the employer is responsible.

These type of cases are all actionable, meaning a lawsuit can be brought for money damages or wrongful death compensation. Initially most families don't even consider filing a lawsuit, because of the grief these types of events bring. Many families are also disappointed to find that in most cases there is no criminal prosecution. Even death caused as a result of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is prosecuted, and if prosecuted the penalty is minor.

In my experience and in conversations with wrongful death attorneys from San Diego County, a second big problem for the families of the deceased is the lack of insurance coverage for the wrongful acts of the defendant. A Ramona wrongful death attorney complained about the frequent serious injury accidents and wrongful death cases resulting from uninsured or poorly insured drivers. Another from the Coachella Valley, California with cases from Mecca and Thermal reported the same thing.

Sometimes even when commercial vehicles are involved there is no insurance coverage. There was one instance when a bus operator collided with a small vehicle in Carlsbad, California he had no insurance at all. The operator of the bus had no assets and there was little recourse to the families of the deceased. A vista wrongful death attorney reported a similar incident where the defendant was driving under the influence and the insurance on the vehicle had expired and therefore there was no coverage. A San Marcos California wrongful death attorney that practices medical malpractice cites the caps on medical malpractice lawsuits as big problem.

Ironically health care costs continue to rise despite the caps on medical malpractice lawsuits. California has a cap of $250,000, which is adding insult to injury to a family that may have no only companion, husband, and father of children, but who may have lost their sole provider and will now suffer economically. There are no caps in cases involving car accidents or truck accidents or even wrongful death from dog attacks, but California only requires $15,000 insurance coverage and similar coverage exists throughout the country. The small amounts of coverage are clearly insufficient to be of any help to a struggling family, especially when there are children involved.

A third problem is the statute of limitations, especially when the defendant is a government agency. In California the families, must file a claim very quickly, because the time limit is often as little as six months. These rules are truly unfair to the families of the deceased, since most families are still grieving six months down the road and often have not even considered filing a lawsuit. Families of the deceased should contact an attorney right away, especially when there are children that were dependent on the deceased.

A wrongful death attorney is usually not an attorney limited to wrongful death cases, but rather one that practices wrongful death and personal injury, and sometimes another area of law. Most wrongful death attorneys handle cases throughout their state and sometimes go into neighboring states.

There are many factors to consider in choosing a wrongful death attorney and there are many ideas as to how to best select an attorney. My past clients have had the greatest degree of dissatisfaction with wrongful death attorneys, and serious injury truck accident attorneys, when they obtained the attorneys after viewing their TV commercials. Many of my clients that changed attorneys and came to me reported that these law firms were very busy, and that they never spoke with an attorney or that they spoke with an attorney for less than 10 minutes during the entire course of representation. Attorneys are generally busy, but most cases require some degree of communication and should not be too sheltered by paralegals and secretaries.

Clients that initially sought help at large law firms reported the same type of dissatisfaction, once again reporting that these attorneys were too sheltered by paralegals and secretaries. Interestingly I have not had any clients come to me because they felt their former attorney was too inexperienced.
About the Author
Arnold Hernandez is a personal injury and wrongful death attorney, representing clients in car accidents, truck accidents, and dog bites claims in the cities of San Marcos, Escondido, Vista, Oceanside, Indio, Palm Springs, Riverside, and throughout Southern California. http://www.arnoldhernandez.com
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