No amount of money could ever compensate you for the loss of a loved one who died through the negligence or wrongdoing of another. A wrongful death claim is a way to seek justice for your loved one and damages for your family’s future. If someone’s negligent or intentional act caused your loved one’s death, contact Hanson & Mouri in Riverside County, CA today. Our Riverside wrongful death lawyers can represent you and your family in a California wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death is a legal term denoting a civil action in which survivors of a deceased person seek damages against a party for causing that person’s death. A wrongful death claim arises when someone dies as a result of the negligence or wrongful act of another person or entity. It is a civil lawsuit for money damages, which the court orders the defendant to pay if the lawsuit is successful.
Although a successful wrongful death claim cannot bring the victim back, it can allow loved ones to hold the responsible party accountable and receive compensation for their loss. Some of those types of losses may include lost companionship, lost wages, and funeral expenses, among others.
A wrongful death can result from many different kinds of accidents in which the victim could have legally filed a personal injury claim had they survived. Some of the most frequent causes of wrongful death that give rise to claims include:
Car accidents in Riverside are the most common cause of wrongful deaths. According to recent statistics from 2019, there were 3,606 traffic accident fatalities reported in California. Most fatal car accidents are caused by the negligence of one or more drivers, for example, due to drunk driving, distracted driving, speeding, driving while fatigued, texting and driving, etc.
Medical errors, or medical malpractice, are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. When a doctor, nurse, or other medical professionals make a significant mistake, the consequences can be fatal for a patient. Many wrongful death claims are filed on the grounds of a misdiagnosis of an illness or a physician’s failure to identify an illness, incorrect treatment, surgical errors, birth injuries, medication errors, and more.
High-risk occupations such as construction are inherently dangerous and have a high risk of workplace fatalities. Still, it is the employer’s responsibility to prevent serious accidents by providing a relatively safe work environment. A wrongful death claim can be brought against an employer if a worker is killed in a hazardous situation caused by the company’s negligence.
The designer, manufacturer, distributor, seller, or any other individual or company involved in a defective product’s chain of distribution can be liable for a resulting injury or fatality. Suppose a consumer loses their life because of a defective product. In that case, a wrongful death lawsuit can possibly be filed based on a product’s faulty design, defective manufacturing, or a company’s failure to warn.
Other common causes of wrongful deaths in California include bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, truck accidents, and criminal acts of violence.
The following elements must be proven to succeed with a wrongful death case claim in California:
Aggressively pursuing a full and fair wrongful death compensation can be difficult with an experienced attorney. They will help you demand justice. Insurance companies for at-fault parties can be quick to deny responsibility. They may argue that you do not have a claim or offer you an insultingly low settlement. The last thing you need to be burdened with as you are grieving is talking to an insensitive insurance adjuster. An attorney will help you craft a solid claim and calculate the total and fair compensation you and your family deserve.
Pursuant to the California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60 et seq., a wrongful death claim may be filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate on behalf of or by any of the following survivors:
Provided they can show they were financially dependent on the deceased, the following may also bring a wrongful death claim:
To truly understand how the law applies to your claim, have a wrongful death lawyer evaluate your claim.
A fantastic Attorney who did a wonderful job for us. He explained the process thoroughly and he’s also a very pleasant guy. – R. Parker
Yes, lawmakers have enacted statutes of limitations to set a maximum time limit that is typically two years after a wrongful death in which a person can take legal action in California. Generally speaking, a statute of limitations is the deadline by which a particular type of lawsuit must be filed. If you miss the deadline by even one day, then your claim is barred if no exception applies.
California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60 CCP sets the general statute of limitations for wrongful death cases at two years from the date of the decedent’s death. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule. For instance, if a person’s death was caused by medical malpractice, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of the deceased’s death.
Each state has statutes of limitations in place to encourage victims to seek legal resolutions within a reasonable length of time. Once too much time passes after an event, evidence begins to disappear, witnesses’ memory fades, and details can be too difficult to trace.
Survival action lawsuits are filed directly on behalf of a deceased victim. They are appropriate when the victim did not die immediately from their accident or an intentional act but survived for a time after. Damages in survival actions include compensation for medical expenses and a victim’s pain and suffering between the time of the accident or intentional act to the victim’s death. The damages will be paid into the victim’s estate and will be paid out to the estate’s heirs during the probate process. The statute of limitations for filing a survival action begins to run on the date of the accident or action that ultimately led to the victim’s death. That deadline can possibly be extended depending on the amount of time that has elapsed between the victim’s injuries and their death.
The significant difference between a survival action and a wrongful death claim is the types of damages awarded. A survival action allows the estate to obtain the compensation that the deceased would have been able to recover had they survived. Whereas a wrongful death claim pursues damages for the loss of support directly related to the death.
To obtain a fair recovery in a wrongful death claim requires extensive proof of the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death and the at-fault party’s liability. This may include:
While building your case, a wrongful death attorney will often hire other professionals such as a private investigator, accident reconstructionist, medical expert, or other experts relevant to the claim. All of this evidence and more will be used to prove what exactly happened to cause your loved one’s death, who the liable parties are, and the amount of damages or compensation you are entitled to.
To hold a liable party accountable, a wrongful death attorney must prove the following elements of negligence:
The defendant (at-fault party) owed the deceased a duty of care. This generally involves proving the defendant was in some way involved in causing your loved one’s death or was in a position to cause the death.
The defendant breached their duty of care to the deceased in some way. An attorney will have to prove that the defendant’s direct action or lack of action directly caused or contributed to the deceased’s death. For example, speeding through a red light or driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Another reasonable person in the same situation would not have behaved the same way in order to prevent the death in question.
The defendant’s negligence resulted in measurable damages and/or injuries to the victim. The extent of those losses must be demonstrated and can apply to those sustained by both the deceased and their surviving family members pursuing the claim.
A wrongful death attorney must be able to prove the defendant’s negligent actions directly resulted in the death rather than another cause. In other words, the death in question would not have occurred had it not been for the defendant’s negligence.
Wrongful death damages are classified as to whether they are compensating the estate of the deceased for losses associated with the death, or compensating surviving family members for personal losses they have suffered because of the death.
The proceeds from a wrongful death lawsuit are typically not taxable unless punitive damages are awarded. Whether it is by settlement or jury verdict, compensatory damages are non-taxable. This means compensation for medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, etc. If a wrongful death settlement is solely compensatory damages then you are not required to report it as income on a personal tax return.
However, punitive damages, which are awarded as punishment to the defendant, and compensation for lost wages are both considered income and would be subject to income tax.
The death of a loved one can cause emotional distress and be an extremely difficult event both emotionally and financially for an entire family. Often the decedent’s family must take care of medical and funeral expenses while at the same time dealing with tremendous grief and the emotional welfare of the surviving family members. Such a traumatic event can be even more difficult to deal with when the death was caused by another person’s negligence. When this happens you need the expertise of an Inland Empire wrongful death attorney.
Your family deserves to be taken care of after the death of a loved one and you may be entitled to monetary compensation to help pay for medical and funeral bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Our law office in Riverside County specialize in wrongful death lawsuits accidents occurring on the job, in a hospital or nursing home, at a place of residence, while driving, and even during everyday activities which unexpectedly lead to an untimely death. If your loved oneʼs death was caused by the actions of another person, even if that person had no intention of killing the victim, you need a lawyer to explain your familyʼs rights.
The death of a family member can have a severe impact on the financial capabilities of the rest of the family members. Medical bills, funeral costs, lost wages, or a loss of support can cause your family to bear an overwhelming financial burden.
Our Riverside wrongful death attorney serves Riverside and San Bernardino with 14 years of experience and will provide you with passionate, quality legal representation. Let us put our experience to work for you and your family. Call us today for a free consultation. Our Riverside wrongful death attorneys can work to get your family monetary compensation to help pay your bills and ease your pain and suffering.
Contact our law firm now, there is no charge for your consultation, and we will listen to your case and offer you quality legal advice. We will keep you informed of significant developments and provide legal services promptly and professionally. You and your loved ones deserve to have your rights protected by a professional. Hanson & Mouri Riverside personal injury attorneys can work to make your family whole again.
Our law office serves Riverside, Corona, Norco, Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Hemet, Banning, Beaumont, Moreno Valley, & Calimesa.