In definition, wrongful death is one that occurs resulting from another party's actions or negligence. Several circumstances cause wrongful death and, with it, an emotional burden. Even though personal injury cases involve pain and a lot of grieving, the loss incurred in wrongful death lawsuits is unbearable. If you happen to lose a loved one because of negligence or another person's wrongdoing, you may file a compensation claim. Get in touch with San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm today to get further direction on your case.
Steps to Take After a Wrongful Death Case
Statistics are evident, and they prove wrongful death cases are overwhelming. The CDC reports 45,343 motor vehicle fatalities in 2005 alone as the leading cause of death in unintentional accidents. It is sad and traumatic if you have to lose a loved one unexpectedly. It further becomes complicated when an individual cannot proceed or take the necessary steps to get compensation. In a case where the deceased was the breadwinner, such accidents serve as a substantial blow to the dependents' livelihood.
In addition to relying on the wrongful death attorney's legal counsel, an individual should possess specific information regarding the wrongful death occurrence. It is so because there are various ways wrongful death occurs, and there is no specific answer to when you should file a wrongful death case. Mostly, an individual should file a wrongful death action as soon as it occurs within the confines of the Statute of Limitations.
When filing a wrongful death claim, gather necessary documents required in the claim to help you expedite the claim process. Such documents include a death certificate, policy document, and a claim form. After this, contact an attorney to help you with an insurance company.
In many circumstances, insurance companies take advantage of your little know-how making a lawyer's service inevitable. At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, a great team of lawyers will take you through the case until full compensation. We are experienced in challenging insurance companies and other defendants to ensure you get a fair hearing.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit at San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm?
Compared to other states, California has relaxed laws about who can file a wrongful death claim. In a hierarchy, the filing begins with the deceased surviving spouse or children. If such parties do not exist, the ability goes to anyone claiming the decedent's property through intestate succession. This category can include parents, siblings, or other beneficiaries. In other cases, a putative spouse or putative stepchildren may bring a death claim if they can prove their financial dependence on the decedent.
The claim is not limited to family members only. In a case where a deceased had domestic partners, they can claim for compensation. Grandchildren whose parents had also passed on and were dependents of the deceased for at least 50% can file a wrongful death lawsuit under California's laws. Besides, a survivor who was responsible for the funeral expenses can file a wrongful death claim. If you fall within these brackets, San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm will readily help you out.
When to File a Death Claim
In California, death lawsuits have strict deadlines like civil claims. For a court in San Diego to hear your case, the plaintiff must file it in two years since the loved one's demise. This deadline also applies to personal injury claims. However, if your loved one died of medical malpractice, you have three years from the date of injury. For claims against government bodies, you only have six months to file a case from the date of the death.
However, you have to have legal support to prove that the victim's death emotionally and financially impacted you besides the negligence or intentional act claim. A wrongful death claim will need you to prove that:
- A loved one's death was caused by another party's negligence, deliberate act, or recklessness. And that the event was not due to the deceased actions or inaction.
- Proof that the survivor suffered measurably in damages because of the wrongful death.
If you can bring this information on board, a wrongful death pursuit should be filed. Automobile accidents, work-related accidents, and medical malpractices present a common ground for wrongful death lawsuits.
Causes of Wrongful Deaths
If a loved one dies because of carelessness, intentional harm, or negligent actions of another person, the victim's spouse, child, or sibling may file a wrongful death lawsuit. In this type of legal action, they can seek compensation for the losses after their loved one's departure with an experienced attorney's assistance.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Most of the wrongful deaths revolve around the following reasons:
- An automobile crash
- Exposure to harmful chemicals or hazardous chemicals
- Medical malpractice
- A falling incident in unsafe environments
While these are the highlighted ways a wrongful death may occur, a family can file a claim after losing a loved one in other ways too. However, if you are uncertain whether your loss qualifies for wrongful death, reach out to an experienced attorney to guide you the best way.
Motor Vehicle Fatalities
The National Highway Traffic Administration reports that motor vehicle fatalities in 2002 were 17,419 DUI, relatively 41 percent of traffic deaths that year alone. It is an indication that wrongful deaths are on the rise in the highways. Additionally, 40,000 deaths occur due to automobile accidents yearly. 40% of such accidents result from driving under the influence of a drug or alcohol, 33% results from vehicles leaving the road, and another large percentage of overspeeding. Other leading causes are driving while overtired, distracted driving with calls and text messaging, failing to yield the right way, running red lights and stop signs, and driving aggressively.
Such huge numbers make filing wrongful death lawsuits a necessity when you lose a loved one. Prior knowledge of the information of wrongful death is essential, as well as consultation of a wrongful death attorney to claim compensation. If your loved one succumbs in an automotive accident, the attorney would need to prove the driver's negligent actions that resulted in the wrongful death. Typically, if the driver was under the influence of alcohol, there will be a criminal case, though not a fair judgment for the victims' family.
On the other hand, motorcycle accidents are rampant. At least 65 percent of motorcycle accidents result in death. Even though there are negligent death suits against motor vehicle drivers who fail to see or give motorcyclists space, our San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm team will assist you in filing a case against the negligent party. Some of these motorcycle-related fatalities suits can be filed against the manufacturers of motorcycles or the equipment.
Medical malpractice is an imminent problem among the members of the medical community. Statistics show that an estimated 98,000 people die yearly in the United States because of medical errors, including misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, surgical errors, medication errors, anesthesia errors, hospital infections, and negligence. All these malpractices end up with the victim having a lifelong disability and, at the extreme, death. Institute of Medicine (IOM) says one in five medical errors are potentially serious or fatal.
If your loved one dies because of such malpractices, there could exist grounds for wrongful death suits. It is your right to have competent medical care when you consult a doctor or a specialist to deliver health services.
Medical professionals have a mandate to provide reasonable standard care, consistent with their training. So, if a patient dies because of preventable medical error, this is termed as medical negligence, and in San Diego, it can be wrongful death. It calls for an action by the close surviving family to press charges on wrongful death for compensation.
Wrongful Deaths Caused by Falls
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics has it that more than 6,000 fatalities occur annually because of employer negligence to care for their employees. These statistics put workers in the construction and manufacturing industries in San Diego especially at risk. However, an individual doing any physical work without a safe and secure environment could be deemed a wrongful death. Therefore, property owners have a legal duty of maintaining their premises in safer conditions. If they fail to do so, and an employee falls and dies due to preventable falls, a close relative of the employee can sue them, and they will be liable in a wrongful death lawsuit. For this reason, falls in workplaces are among the top causes of wrongful deaths in San Diego.
Center for Diseases Control and Prevention reports that in 2005, there were 19,656 slips and falls on-premises in the United States of America. The contributing factors to these slips and falls included obstructed, slippery, or poorly lit walking areas, missing safety signs, unguarded stairways, and use of unauthorized ladders and equipment. Owners of such premises can be held liable if one loses a loved one. In a wrongful death lawsuit, they may be deemed to compensate the victim's survivors for the inevitable death.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics department reports that in 2006, 5,840 fatalities were recorded due to workplace accidents. The causes of these fatalities were:
- Traffic fatalities
- Assault and acts of violence
- Exposure to toxic substances
- Contact with objects or equipment
- Exposure to harmful substances
- Collapsing roofs
- Electric shock
- Scaffolding collapses
- Collapsing roofs
- Cranes and other equipment accidents
Traumatic Brain Injury Fatalities
The Brain Injury Association of America reports that more than 50,000 people die because of traumatic brain injury in a year. In most scenarios, traumatic brain injury occurs because of sudden impact resulting from a slip and fall accident instead of an auto incident, medical errors, etc. With a tangible proof of the cause of a family member's wrongful death, the deceased's relatives can press a wrongful death legal suit to get compensation.
What Type of Compensation Are Available in Wrongful Death Suits?
Individuals are at liberty to get compensation as a result of wrongful death. In a negligence case, a similar compensation to a personal injury claim or special damages for losses relating to a loved one's death can be obtained when a legal suit is followed. Compensation awarded can be in the form of money to cover medical bills, lost wages, and final disposition costs.
In other occurrences, damages relating to the decedent can include retribution for the decedent's pain and suffering. In contrast, the family can be compensated for mental anguish, funeral and burial costs, and consortium loss. When we talk of consortium loss, it encompasses the value of lost household services, love, affection, support, and guidance.
You can also get punitive damages to punish the decedent's bad conduct. Even though California courts do not approve punitive damages, a survival cause of action may pave the way for this type of compensation. In addition, you may recover interest on damages from the time the death occurred to compensation time. In some cases, the claimant is reimbursed for the attorney's fees and the total cost incurred in the lawsuit.
With the varied compensation, it is worth the effort filing and going through the legal process's struggle. The result can be in monetary awards to your family’s needs to secure the surviving spouse and the children's future. It can also bring justice against a company or person responsible for the wrongful death.
The Necessities for Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If a loved one is a result of wrongful death, have the following considerations before filing a case:
The loved one must be dead. However, an individual in a vegetative state will not be eligible for a wrongful death lawsuit. Such a suit cannot be filed on behalf of people seen as animals.
Negligence or Intention to Harm
There must be solid proof that the person's death was due to negligence or intent to harm. In the filed case, the defendant must have a responsibility that directly points to the individual's end.
Survival With Need
The person(survivor) filing the lawsuit must be a dependent of the deceased for some financial, emotional, or physical support that is no longer there since the demise of the individual.
Representation of Estate
If the deceased had an estate, it must be legally represented by the designated individual.
How to Prove Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death claim acts like a personal injury claim on behalf of a deceased plaintiff. Just like the process of proving negligence in a personal injury lawsuit, wrongful death follows the same approach in its case. The plaintiff must prove four elements of negligence to succeed in compensation. The elements are:
The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. A driver could prevent a motorcyclist's death by obeying the traffic laws, or a doctor could potentially give proper consideration to a patient to prevent medical negligence.
The plaintiff must demonstrate to the court that the defendant violated his or her duty of care. This could be through action, omission, or negligent error.
Damage in a wrongful death claim can be the easiest to prove. The claimant files a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased; this only happens when death has occurred for the wrongful death claim to stand.
Causation needs the survivor to prove that the defendant's negligence caused the death of his or her loved one's death directly. He or she may need to verify the proximate cause or that the defendant's negligence was more likely to cause death.
It is worth noting that San Diego follows pure comparative negligence rule that means a plaintiff err in causing claimed damages in a civil lawsuit does not hinder him or her from the economic recovery. However, proving that negligence was the leading cause of a person's death in question can be difficult.
For Example, a patient suffering from a chronic disease in a major surgical procedure can equally die or survive. This does not imply that the physician attending the patient is responsible for the death. In another case, if a patient succumbs from known, reasonable risk of the procedure, and the doctor performed the process correctly, it could mean the patient died from the natural effects of a known risk. On the other hand, if a doctor is careless and negligent in treatment, the doctor committed medical malpractice. It would be possible to allege the doctor caused the wrongful death.
For a legal lawsuit to meet the threshold, it must fulfill other requirements for California courts to hear the case. Wrongful death lawyers are well equipped at our firm to help you navigate through these laws. We give you peace of mind by doing the paperwork and letting you know the case's direction at the right time. If you are not into having a wrongful death attorney, you risk losing your claim of a loved one altogether.
What Makes a Wrongful Death Lawyer Stand Out in San Diego?
Wrongful death claims are amongst the most serious types of civil suits. Therefore, an attorney representing such a case must be competent in handling wrongful death claims. The lawyer you settle for should bring out a difference in experience and your case's general outcome. Making inquiries from people who were in a similar case could help and look for reviews on competent attorneys could be ideal. Here are some of the qualities you need to check out for a wrongful death lawyer in San Diego:
When settling for a lawyer, the experience is a crucial factor. Knowing the type of death your loved one succumbed to helps you determine the specialist you will engage. Generally, look for lawyers with experience in car accidents, medical malpractices, criminal activities, workplace accidents like slips-and-falls before narrowing down to the specific lawyer of the type of accident that killed your family member. Look for experience in the courtroom rather than case settlements. This is so because many death claims end up going to trial.
Wrongful death is a serious and heartbreaking affair. Because of the seriousness, you should settle on a team of lawyers who are also serious in their tasks. For your case to succeed, they must be committed to the core.
The lawyer should pay attention to detail, be timely in filing the claim, and keep you posted on the case's progress. If your lawyers are committed, be sure to maximize the compensation at the end of the trial.
A compassionate attorney will lead you into the success of a case. If the attorney cares about your family loss, they will mostly negotiate for a better settlement. Often, the lawyers bring the fire that can scare insurance companies. Working on such a tactic, the insurance company will most likely offer higher amounts if it is probably going to trial. It is worth noting that compassion is not money-oriented, but the experience during the most challenging time.
Find a Personal Injury Law Firm Near You
Most of the time, people tend to think that the mourning period is the hardest. However, it becomes sadder and overwhelming if the cause of death resulted from another person's negligent actions or wrongdoing. The grief and anger may not allow you to face the ordeal of bringing a legal battle. At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we understand your predicament, thus come to aid.
We have years of service to people like you reeling from losing a family member's emotional intensity. We give your family full representation if you want to hold people who caused you grieving accountable. Our competent and compassionate legal team is ready to handle a wrongful death claim anytime. It is your time to grieve, your attention should be turned to the family in this difficult time, and the tedious work is left for us.
Call San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm to protect your rights. Have it in mind that there are time restrictions on filing a wrongful death case, so reach us via 619-478-4059 if you need assistance with your case today.