Did You Lose A Loved One To Wrongful Death in San Diego?
Losing a loved one unexpectedly is never easy, but when you lose a loved one due to the negligence of someone else, this experience can add incredible frustration, uncertainty, and despair to an already challenging and emotionally stressful situation. Unfortunately, wrongful deaths occur every day in San Diego, CA, and throughout the United States. When another party bears responsibility for the recent death of your loved one, it’s vital to know your rights and legal options for holding them responsible.
If you have lost a loved one in San Diego and you are unsure of what to do next, look no further. Speaking with our San Diego wrongful death lawyer can help guide you in the right direction and inform you of your legal rights and possibilities for compensation.
Our award-winning injury attorneys and professional staff are available to help you in your time of need and are here to discuss your case at your convenience. We are available to help you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Why Do I Need a San Diego Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Suppose you have recently experienced the sudden death of a loved one due to the actions of another party. In that case, it’s natural to have many questions about what you can do to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. When their liability seems perfectly clear, you might assume that you can manage to hold them accountable with a civil action on your own, avoiding the expense of hiring a San Diego wrongful death lawyer to represent your case. Unfortunately, this is a very risky choice as there are countless procedural requirements you will need to fulfill before a judge even looks at your claim, and even slight errors could have a claim thrown out of court.
Even if you successfully manage to see yourself through the various stages of a wrongful death claim, there is no guarantee that you will be able to secure the total amount of compensation you and your family deserve under California’s wrongful death laws. So instead of risking your case unnecessarily by attempting to handle it on your own while grieving the loss of your loved one, have Chris and Frank represent you as your San Diego wrongful death lawyers.
Our firm has years of experience handling the most challenging and emotionally stressful personal injury claims for our clients in the San Diego, CA, area. We know how difficult it can be to approach any wrongful death claim, and our goal is to help you and your family have some peace of mind during this challenging time by handling your legal affairs on your behalf. We’ll guide you through every stage of your case with confidence and ultimately assist you in securing the compensation you and your family need to move on with your lives with reassurance. Suppose you are concerned about the cost of legal representation. In that case, our firm operates on a contingency fee basis, meaning we never charge our clients any upfront fees for our legal services and only take legal fees once we win your case.
What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death?
California state law defines a “wrongful death” as any unexpected death that occurs due to another party’s negligent or intentionally harmful acts. Wrongful death claims share many procedural similarities with personal injury claims. The process of securing a personal injury settlement is very similar to winning a wrongful death claim. Wrongful deaths can occur from many of the same situations that typically cause personal injuries, such as:
- Motor vehicle accidents. These are the leading cause of accidental injuries and deaths in California and throughout the country. When a driver fails to uphold their duty of care to operate their vehicle safely and responsibly, they endanger themselves and everyone around them.
- Defective products. All manufacturers have a legal responsibility to ensure they create and sell products that are safe, effective, and perform as advertised. When a manufacturer releases a defective or unreasonably dangerous product, consumers are likely to suffer injuries. Some of these victims may not survive these experiences, and their loved ones would have the right to file wrongful death claims against the manufacturer under California’s product liability laws.
- Premises liability. All property owners have a duty of care to address known safety issues on their properties and to warn lawful visitors of known safety risks if they are likely to encounter them while on the property. If a slip and fall accident or other premises liability-related incident results in a death, the property owner is likely liable for wrongful death.
- Dog attacks. Dogs may be popular pets throughout the country, but they can also inflict severe or even fatal wounds to people, especially children. As a result, California enforces strict liability on dog owners whose pets harm others, and this applies to wrongful death cases as well as personal injury claims.
- Medical malpractice. Unfortunately, while most people rely on medical professionals to provide safe and effective treatments, medical negligence is one of the most commonly reported causes of wrongful deaths throughout the United States. Filing a wrongful death claim for medical malpractice is very different from most other types of wrongful death claims one might file, so it’s crucial to have reliable legal counsel when you have lost a loved one because of medical malpractice in San Diego, CA.
- Workplace accidents. Many people working in dangerous industries like manufacturing, commercial logging, and construction face significant risks of injury and death every day. When a worker sustains an injury on the job in California, they have a right to file a workers’ compensation claim to cover their medical expenses and lost income while they recover. In addition, when a worker dies from an accident at work, the California Division of Workers’ Compensation may pay death benefits to their family. The family may also have grounds for a wrongful death claim depending on the exact details of how the death occurred.
- Intentional acts of violence. Unfortunately, some people do not survive incidents of violent crime in California. In the event a person dies during a burglary, armed robbery, or any other criminal action, the defendant responsible would face not only civil liability for wrongful death but also criminal prosecution for homicide in addition to other applicable charges for the situation.
These are only a few possible examples of how wrongful deaths can occur in the San Diego, CA, area. The team at Chris and Frank understands the emotional weight these incidents carry for surviving family members and wants to provide the compassionate and responsive legal counsel you need to confidently navigate your wrongful death claim.
How Much Is a Typical Wrongful Death Settlement?
Money cannot replace your lost loved one, but it can ease the economic impact of their death in several ways. The deceased likely contributed to supporting your family and household in many ways. A wrongful death claim seeks to compensate surviving family members for their losses resulting from a wrongful death. It’s difficult to state an average settlement amount for wrongful death suits in California due to the numerous variables that come into play in every wrongful death claim. However, your successful wrongful death claim in San Diego, CA, can potentially yield several forms of compensation, including:
- Funeral and burial expenses. You and your family have the right to seek compensation for the cost of your loved one’s funeral and burial in accordance with their personal preferences, within reason.
- Lost financial support. If your loved one was a primary breadwinner for your family, losing their income can present a disastrous financial situation. You have the right to seek compensation for the lost financial support your loved one would have provided in the future had they survived. Your San Diego wrongful death attorney can calculate your lost financial support based on the deceased’s age and income at the time of their death and the number of years they would have continued working until retirement.
- Lost value of household services. Your lost loved one probably contributed to maintaining your household in several ways. Your attorney will assist you in calculating the value of the household services they provided to you and your family and include this amount in your claim.
- Lost affection, care, guidance, and consortium. A wrongful death claim compensates the surviving family’s pain and suffering caused by the unexpected death of their loved one. For example, a surviving spouse can claim compensation for lost intimacy and affection. Likewise, the surviving children of the deceased can receive compensation for lost guidance and moral support the deceased provided.
You need to remember that while a wrongful death action compensates the deceased’s family for their losses, it does not allow for the collection of damages incurred by the deceased’s estate. Damages along these lines can come into play when a defendant causes a wrongful death, but the victim does not die immediately.
Wrongful Death Claims and Survival Actions
Suppose a defendant’s wrongful act causes a death, but the victim suffers for some time until they eventually die. In that case, the deceased’s estate is likely to incur several damages that their family would not be able to recover through a standard wrongful death action. However, the family may have the ability to file a survival action to secure compensation for damages to the deceased’s estate.
These damages reflect those typically seen in most personal injury claims, such as the deceased’s medical expenses for treatment of their final injury or illness until their death, their lost income during this time, and property damage caused by the defendant’s wrongful act. In addition, while a survival action cannot seek pain and suffering compensation on behalf of the deceased, the defendant can face punitive damages depending on how the accident occurred.
Many wrongful death claimants also file survival actions when time passes between a defendant’s wrongful act and the resulting deaths. These claims can be filed separately, or they may combine into a single more significant civil claim.
Proving Liability for Wrongful Death
Wrongful death claims revolve around the legal concept of negligence, similar to personal injury claims. “Negligence” refers to a party’s failure to exercise reasonable care in a given situation. To succeed with a wrongful death claim in California, the plaintiff must establish four elements of negligence:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased. In the wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must show that the deceased had some duty of care to the deceased before their wrongful act. For example, every driver has a duty of care to avoid driving under the influence of alcohol.
- The defendant breached their duty of care. The plaintiff and their attorney must leverage available evidence and witness testimony to prove the defendant committed some wrongful act that breached the duty of care they owed the deceased. This could be a specific wrongful action such as speeding or failing to stop at a red light, or it could be inaction in a situation in which a reasonable person would have likely taken appropriate action.
- The wrongful death caused measurable losses to the family. To succeed with any civil claim for damages, the plaintiff must provide a complete and accurate list of their claimable damages. This can be difficult in some wrongful death claims, especially when the deceased controlled substantial assets and earned a large income. The family will need to rely on their San Diego wrongful death lawyer to help them accurately calculate the full scope of the damages resulting from their loved one’s death.
- The claimed damages are the direct results of the wrongful death caused by the defendant’s wrongful act. The final element of establishing negligence in a wrongful death claim is proving causation between the defendant’s wrongful actions and the death in question. The plaintiff must prove the death and subsequent economic damages would not have occurred but for the defendant’s negligence or wrongful act.
Successfully proving these four elements of negligence will increase the plaintiff’s chance of succeeding with their wrongful death claim. Your San Diego wrongful death attorney will help you determine what evidence you will need to establish the defendant’s liability for the death of your loved one, assist you in gathering the documentation you will need for proving the financial impact of their death, and ultimately guide you through every phase of your case with confidence.
What to Expect From Your Attorney
Every wrongful death claim in San Diego, CA, is unique. The lawyers at Chris and Frank believe in providing client-focused representation because we know there are no one-size-fits-all strategies for wrongful death claims in California. Every claim involves unique details and variables, and every surviving family will have different experiences following wrongful deaths. Therefore, we take time to get to know each client we represent so we can fully understand their situations and provide the most comprehensive and personalized legal counsel we possibly can.
Many wrongful death claims involve highly technical and complex details that may require input from various professionals. An experienced San Diego wrongful death attorney can coordinate expert witness testimony in these situations. For example, some expert witnesses like engineers and accident reconstruction experts can help a plaintiff prove liability for a wrongful death, while others such as medical professionals can help the court understand a decedent’s or plaintiff’s experiences. Your San Diego wrongful death lawyer will assist you in securing the expert witness testimony you may need to prove fault for your loved one’s death and to assist you in substantiating your claims for economic damages.
The vast majority of wrongful death claims end in settlement negotiations between the victim’s family and the defendant responsible for causing their loved one’s death. This can be an emotionally stressful situation, but settlement is worth exploring in most cases due to its benefits to both parties. The defendant can settle the matter more quickly and avoid the typical expense of litigation while the family can secure compensation for their losses more swiftly, allowing them to move on with some reassurance and peace of mind much more quickly than a protracted court case would allow.
Settlement is only possible if a defendant accepts liability for the wrongful death and is willing to negotiate a settlement with the family. If settlement does not prove fruitful or if the defendant denies liability for the death and demands a trial, the case will proceed to litigation. Chris and Frank strive to settle our clients’ wrongful death claims as swiftly as possible, but we are not afraid to represent our clients in court if necessary.
Find Your Legal Team Today
Time is a critical factor in any wrongful death claim. California allows for a two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death claims. While this may sound like plenty of time to take legal action, it is always best to work quickly to secure the legal counsel you need to have the best chance of success with your wrongful death claim. Chris and Frank can provide the comprehensive and compassionate legal representation you and your family need during a challenging time. If you are ready to take legal action for a wrongful death in San Diego, we can help. Contact Chris and Frank today to schedule a consultation with an experienced San Diego wrongful death lawyer.
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