Losing a loved one is never easy. It's especially hard when the victim experiences a wrongful death. Dealing with the passing of a loved one is tremendously painful when they leave their family or partner in a tight financial position.
A wrongful death lawyer investigates the circumstances surrounding the victim's death. They'll consult with you and advise you on your legal rights. Your attorney determines third-party liability, assisting with securing financial compensation for your loss.
If you intend to pursue a wrongful death claim, our lawyers can help you navigate the legal process. Our law firm handles wrongful death lawsuits across the state.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit, not a criminal prosecution, outlined in the statute Code of Civil Procedure 377.60. If your claim is successful, your attorney proves the death occurred because of another party, entity, or organization's negligence or misconduct. The family of the deceased is entitled to compensation for financial losses as a result of the wrongful death.
There are two reasons for reporting a wrongful death claim. The first is a personal injury claim for the decedent or a negligence claim filed on their behalf. The second is to support the deceased's surviving family.
These civil lawsuits do not result in prison sentences or convictions with fines and don't involve the presence of the district attorney. They're intended to allow family members of the decedent to obtain monetary damages.
Moreover, these claims can be very complex, causing additional stress upon the grieving plaintiff, which is why a lawyer can be helpful. However, despite having a strong case, not all claims are a guaranteed win for the plaintiff.
All deaths occurring due to the negligence of other persons or entities should qualify as wrongful death in general. However, not all accidental deaths result in a viable wrongful death suit.
Don't attempt to handle the case yourself. Contact our firm for further legal aid and to file a wrongful death claim.
The death of an individual due to the negligence, recklessness, or deliberate actions of a third party may give rise to a wrongful death lawsuit.
The issue is with establishing the legitimacy of the claim. The attorney must prove the individual, party, or entity's failure to have acted reasonably sensible manner. The counsel can provide evidence of acts or omissions of the standard of care to the deceased.
Different negligent acts are considered wrongful death actions. Some of them are the following: ###Car Accidents (Including Getting Hit by a Drunk or Intoxicated Driver)
These accidents are caused by distracted driving, drunk drivers, or impaired drivers failing to comply with traffic rules. It includes accidents with other vehicles and incidences of road rage caused by aggressive drivers resulting in fatal accidents.
In 2020, fatal car crashes were 4.9% higher, rising from 3,723 to 3,540. Texas was the leading state, with 3,305 fatal car accidents, followed by California with 3,259 reported fatalities from automotive accidents.
An automobile accident is the most common wrongful death and personal injury claim for people between 5 to 35 years old.
There are around 750 fatal truck accidents in California each year, with an increase of 16% above average from 2016 to 2017, climbing from 725 to 841.
Truck accidents create complex legal cases. They require the expertise of a qualified and experienced wrongful death attorney with a track record specializing in truck-related wrongful death cases.
Firearm-related deaths contribute heavily to the rise of homicide rates across the country. The homicide rate jumped by 27% from 2019 to 2020, with cases involving guns rising by 35% in the same year. In 2017, there was a total of 3,184 firearm-related wrongful deaths reported.
Men are more likely to be the victims of violent deaths than women, with an age demographic of 15 to 34 years old. Black and Hispanic victims rose by 3.6 and 3.0 percent, respectively. On the other hand, violent crimes against Caucasian victims saw a surge of 15 percent and 10 percent for Asian victims.
Males between 18 to 29 are the most common demographic involved in motorcycle accidents. In the case of females, 68% of women involved in fatal collisions were passengers.
In 2019, 2,811 fatal motorcycle accidents occurred in the United States, with 474 fatalities in this state alone.
Amongst all job-related injuries, falls account for about 5% for women and 11% for men. Roughly 600 occupational wrongful deaths occur yearly due to slip and fall accidents in the workplace. They mainly happen around construction, mining, or maintenance areas.
Nursing home residents are also common victims of fall-related injuries, with 1,800 deaths and wrongful deaths occurring annually. Seniors (age 65 and above) are more prone to pass away from a slip and fall accident.
Additionally, property owners or occupants failing to protect visitors from harm by not repairing damaged or dangerous areas or providing sufficient warning can provide the basis for a premises liability claim.
In the case of vehicle collisions, pedestrians are at high risk of death in accidents. For example, there were 4,280 pedestrian deaths in 2010. Usually, children and seniors are at a higher risk of being victims of pedestrian fatalities. The deaths can be attributed to reckless driving, limited field of vision, lack of sufficient lighting at night, and lack of proper pedestrian walkways.
Nursing homes take responsibility for taking care of senior citizens. Unfortunately, many of these homes fail to provide standard care and withhold necessary aid and help, subjecting them to liability.
Sometimes, the lack of proper care can lead to mental and physical stress. Since nursing home residents are already frail, even a small injury can result in death.
Designers, manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and retailers are responsible for creating products and services for consumption. So, they must be attentive to minimizing the risks of harm to the public. Death due to faulty product design or defective materials is a basis for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Employers are required to create a healthy working environment for all employees. Deaths caused by an employer or company's negligence can be the basis for a wrongful death case. Wrongful death claims include illness due to unsafe working conditions, exposure to toxic chemicals or injuries and burns due to fires, and brain or spinal injury due to improper training (giving rise to lost wages and other damages). In these cases, survivors may bring a third-party liability legal claim against the employer and seek a larger financial settlement than a standard worker's compensation claim.
Our wrongful death lawyers handle fatal accident cases caused by:
• Birth injuries
• Sporting accidents
• Bicycle accidents
• Assault and battery
• Child abuse or neglect
• Medical malpractice (including delayed diagnosis)
The deceased's relatives or heirs also have a right to file a wrongful death lawsuit under "strict liability" if death occurred due to a dog bite or mauling. This law also covers a person's death due to the use of a defective product.
Although the wrongful death law differs from state to state, the concept can be similar between states. In California, only certain parties have the right to these claims. For example:
The deceased's surviving spouse can recover compensation for lost companionship, protection, and mental pain, as well as emotional suffering. Since California recognizes common-law and same-sex marriage, a domestic partner may also report a claim.
Minors have a right to file and seek compensation for emotional and mental suffering, as well as lost parental companionship and guidance.
The parent of a minor decedent is subjected to be reimbursed for mental pain and suffering from the date of the fatal incident. Whereas the parents of an adult can recover compensation for mental pain and suffering due to the lack of survivors and loss of lineage.
Survivors are eligible to recover an amount equal to the value of lost support from the date of the injury to the date of the family member's death with interest. They would receive compensation for future loss of support as well, which would be calculated and reduced to its present value.
These settlements are usually paid in a lump sum or as a set structured settlement system with interval payments. Plaintiffs can receive significant amounts from insurance companies, such as six, seven, or eight-figure settlements, depending on the case. The period of liability is usually shorter than:
The life expectancy of the decedent at the date of the wrongful incident or
The life expectancy of the plaintiff at the date of the wrongful incident
The jury considers relevant factors such as the health and lifestyle of the deceased, previous personal injury accidents, and their occupation to determine the victim's life expectancy
To establish liability for a successful claim, our wrongful death attorneys help the plaintiff prove:
• The defendant was responsible for negligent behavior
• The defendant's intention or wanton behavior directly led to the victim's death
• The plaintiffs are the surviving family members and are the legal beneficiaries of the victim
• The survivors have incurred measurable loss due to the death of the victim
Under California law, the surviving family of the victim are eligible for compensation from two types of wrongful death damages.
The loss of the financial support contributed by the deceased during their lifetimes. Includes the absence of gifts and benefits the family members would have expected to receive.
Any medical expenses paid by the survivor after the decedent's injury or death are recoverable. This includes burial and funeral expenses.
However, if there are no legal heirs or a surviving spouse, that is, both the decedents' parents are dead, and they have no children or legal heirs named, there can be no plaintiff. The defendant is not liable for damages.
Although there is no fixed standard for calculating and determining non-economic damages, some factors involved in the settlement figure include the following.
• Society and companionship
• Moral support
• Training and guidance
• Sexual relations
The jury will use common sense, directions from the attorneys and evidence to award a settlement amount.
These damages are imposed to punish the offending entity as well as to discourage others from acting out the same way. They are calculated according to the severity of the at-fault party's intentional, reckless, or grossly negligent behavior or actions.
After the appointment, the wrongful death attorney begins due diligence and an investigation to pinpoint the negligent act resulting in death.
Often, the facts surrounding wrongful death cases are hard to clarify. These incidents can occur instantaneously, so people do not always accurately document all of the details. Confusion, misunderstanding, adrenaline, and shock can cause bystanders and witnesses to give conflicting accounts.
Not to mention, the liable person or accused entity may attempt to shift blame. They try to avoid accepting responsibility and may even attempt to hide details or distort them. So, a wrongful death lawyer can help get to the bottom of what happened.
For example, in a fatal motor vehicle accident, our lawyers may review the police report and cross-reference it with bystanders, witnesses, and others involved in the crash. If the narratives do not align, a wrongful death attorney will then check for nearby surveillance cameras to check the collision and the moments leading up to and following it. The visual evidence is crucial to proving the claim and potentially holding the other driver responsible for violating the traffic law or acting unjustly.
Since different states have different laws, a lawyer can guide you through all the jargon and legal procedures. They will determine whether you have the right to sue for compensation and punitive damages, where applicable.
In such cases, our lawyers can even help you navigate a "survival action" on behalf of the deceased person's estate.
The wrongful death statute of limitation for a person to raise a wrongful death claim is generally two years from the date of the decedent's death. If a lawsuit is raised after the statute of limitations expires, it will most likely be dismissed.
Consider a person in a car accident. If a person dies instantly in a car crash, then the victim's spouse or immediate family must file for legal action within two years from the date of the accident.
However, if the person falls into a coma for three months and later passes away, the statute of limitation begins on the day death occurred, not on the accident. But some jurisdictions have a discovery rule, which may act as an exemption to the two-year rule, so the statute of limitation starts when the victim's family and relatives realize that the victim has died, for example.
In some jurisdictions, if a government entity or employee is responsible for the wrongful act and death of another, then the statute of limitations is six months from the date of the death.
Our counsel are experienced in handling cases involving government entities, such as the following.
• Accidents at a public school
• Car accidents involving government-owned vehicle
• Personal injury in government buildings
The monetary damages and compensation a family might receive from economic and non-economic damages could be significant, depending on the nature of the claim.
Our lawyers address specific questions regarding your case by looking at all the relevant facts to determine a fair settlement amount. They will file the lawsuit for you and attempt to negotiate an out-of-court settlement.
If the parties cannot reach a mutual agreement, the case proceeds to trial. At trial, the jury decides whether you are eligible to receive a settlement and, if so, how much.
Sometimes a wrongful death can give rise to a survival action under the Californian Code of Civil Procedure 377.30.
Through this type of lawsuit, the decedent's heirs or personal representative can sue the defendant on behalf of the deceased's estate. Two important considerations include:
• Reasonable claims unrelated to the fatality and which the deceased has the right to file for as of the date of the death and/or
• Claims for the physical and mental injury leading to death, if the person survived those injuries for at least a period of time
No, it is not. It is a civil lawsuit, not a criminal prosecution. However, a criminal investigation may occur independently.
A homicide, which is a crime, can also be labeled as wrongful death, but not all wrongful death cases are criminal acts. Wrongful death claims essentially involve civil attorneys and may result in monetary compensation for family members. On the other hand, criminal offenses involve district attorneys or prosecutors in charge who pursue the defendant. If the state wins, the defendant may need to serve prison time and pay fines.
For a minor filing a lawsuit for a wrongful death claim, it depends on your jurisdiction. He or she may have a special statute of limitations rule, which begins the day they turn 18 and may last for two years from that date.
If you have lost your loved one or family member and need to file a wrongful death action, we are here to help. We'll help you get the justice and closure you deserve. Our legal counsel is experienced and skilled at handling wrongful death claims involving various personal injury events.
We are ready to listen to your stories with patience and compassion and help you deal with the aftermath of your loved one's death.