While personal injury cases often involve much pain and grieving, the loss suffered in wrongful death lawsuits is often unbearable. If your family has recently lost a loved one to the negligence or wrongdoing of someone else, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. Contact an experienced San Diego wrongful death attorney at Estey & Bomberger, LLP today for more information.
What Constitutes Wrongful Death?
Unfortunately, not every grieving parent, child, or spouse has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit requires several elements to stand up in a court of law.
The Necessary Elements for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit are:
- Death. A human being must pass away. Someone who is in a vegetative state is not eligible for a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits cannot be filed on behalf of animals.
- Negligence or Intent to Harm. The cause of the person’s death must be determined to have been a result of negligence or intent to harm. Thereby, the defendant in the case must have some responsibility or fault that applies directly to the death of the individual.
- Survival with Need. The survivor filing the lawsuit must be dependent on the deceased for some sort of financial, emotional, or physical support, which is lacking now that they are gone.
- Representation of Estate. The estate belonging to the deceased must be legally represented by a designated individual.
What are the Top Causes of Wrongful Death in America?
According to the most recent CDC data, fatalities from unintended injuries are the #4 leading cause of death in the U.S.
- Automotive 40,000 deaths occur as a result of automobile accidents each year. 40% of these are a result of driving under the influence, 33% are a result of a vehicle leaving the road, and another large percentage is the result of speeding. Vehicle rollovers also account for 10,000 deaths each year.
- Aviation Pilots who fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol and faulty aviation equipment are the two main causes of wrongful death lawsuits regarding air travel.
- Motorcycle As 65% of all motorcycle accidents result in death, there are often wrongful death suits filed against the drivers of the vehicles who fail to see or make room for motorcyclists. Some motorcycle-related wrongful death suits are filed against manufacturers of the motorcycles or equipment.
98,000 fatalities occur each year as a result of medical malpractice. 90% of all reported malpractice incidents end in either lifelong disability or death.
- Surgical Misstep This includes leaving instruments or other materials inside the body, severing arteries, removing or transplanting the wrong organ or body part, and more.
- Medication Errors 1.5 million people are affected negatively by medication errors, and 7,000 deaths occur as a result of these errors yearly.
- Negligence in Care Especially prevalent in nursing homes, but applicable in any medical facility, nurses and doctors can be sued for faulty care.
- Misdiagnosis or Non-diagnosis When an individual is being treated for the wrong diagnosis or not being treated for a condition from which they suffer, wrongful death can occur.
How Motor Vehicle Deaths are there in San Diego Each Year?
What Should I Know About Wrongful Death Claims in California?
Aside from qualifying as “wrongful death” by legal definition, an official claim must also fulfill other requirements for the California courts to hear the case. Navigating these laws is what the wrongful death lawyers at Estey & Bomberger do best. Let us take care of the paperwork for you, so you can have peace of mind that your case is going to the right people with the right information at the right time. Otherwise, you risk losing your opportunity to recover for the death of your loved one altogether. Below are Three tips you should know about wrongful death claims:
Who can File a Claim?
California is relatively relaxed about who can file a wrongful death claim compared to other states. The filing hierarchy starts with the deceased person’s surviving spouse or domestic partner, as well as any surviving children. If these parties do not exist, the ability to file goes to anyone with a claim to the decedent’s property by intestate succession. This includes parents, siblings, and other potential beneficiaries. A putative spouse, children of the putative spouse, stepchildren, and parents may bring wrongful death claims if they can prove they were financially dependent on the decedent.
When can you File a Death Claim?
Like all civil claims, wrongful death lawsuits come with strict deadlines in California. For the San Diego courts to even hear a claim, the plaintiff must file within two years of the date of the loved one’s death. This is the same deadline as for personal injury claims in California. This deadline will apply in most wrongful death claims, but there are exceptions. If your loved one died due to medical malpractice, you have three years from the date of injury or discovery of injury. Claims against government bodies have only six months from the date of death to file.
What Types of Damages can you Recover?
A wrongful death claim can lead to similar compensation as in a personal injury claim, as well as special damages for losses relating to the death of a loved one. Damages relating to the decedent can include compensation for related medical bills, retribution for the decedent’s pain and suffering, and payment for lost wages. Damages for the family can include mental anguish, funeral and burial costs, and loss of consortium. “Loss of consortium” encompasses the value of lost household services, love, community, support, affection, and guidance.
Wrongful death claims can be well worth the effort of filing and going through the legal process. They can result in monetary awards your family needs to cover death-related expenses and to secure the future for a surviving spouse and children. They can also bring justice against the person or company that caused your loved one’s unexpected passing.
Civil Wrongful Death Claims vs. Criminal Claims – What’s the Connection?
In 2016, there were 5,332 violent crimes, 3,323 aggravated assaults, and 50 murders in the city of San Diego. If your loved one passed away in a murder or homicide, a criminal case isn’t the only legal action available. While the city presses criminal charges against the perpetrator, you and your family can press civil charges in pursuit of financial compensation. A criminal case can result in a conviction and jail time, but it’s the civil claim that can lead to damage recovery for surviving family members. In California, you can bring a wrongful death claim at the same time as an ongoing criminal case.
Don’t waste any time in pursuing wrongful death damages from the person who killed your loved one. You and your family deserve closure, and, at the very least, payment for the expenses relating to your loved one’s death. It is up to you to file a wrongful death claim before the deadline. While the government takes care of criminal claims, you and your family must step forward with a civil claim. If the criminal case finds the defendant guilty, it can help your civil claim succeed. Get help from our aggressive attorneys as soon as possible after receiving the devastating news that a criminal has killed a loved one.
Recent Wrongful Death Case Testimonial
There are three major components of product liability lawsuits. The most common product liability suits involve safety equipment and children’s toys.
- Design defect
- Manufacturing defect
- Failure to warn
An unsafe environment can cause a wrongful death. The most common cases are slips and falls, while other cases involve mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos.
Wrongful death can occur in the workplace as a result of a number of different causes, such as faulty equipment, slips and falls, explosions, burns, chemical exposure, overexertion in unprotected conditions, and more. 6,000 fatalities occur annually as a result of wrongful death in the workplace. Occupations with the highest risk factor for wrongful death include:
- Manufacturing Plants
How do I Choose a Wrongful Death Lawyer in SD?
Wrongful death claims are the most serious types of civil cases. They deserve attention from attorneys who have proven results. The lawyer you choose to represent you and your family can make all the difference in your experience and the outcome of your case. It is your prerogative to use free consultations to get a feel for an attorney and to choose the one who feels like the best fit for your family and your case. Here are a few things to look for in your San Diego wrongful death lawyer:
Experience. Search for experience not only with wrongful death claims, but with the type of accident that killed your loved one. Look for lawyers who have handled claims dealing with fatal car accidents, medical mistakes, workplace incidents, criminal activities, or another type of incident that took your family member’s life. Experience in the courtroom, and not just in settlements, is imperative, since many wrongful death claims ultimately end up going to trial.
Commitment. Nothing is more serious or heartbreaking than wrongful death. Your family deserves a team of attorneys who take your loss as seriously as you do. Commitment to clients and to the case is important in the overall success of your claim. Your attorney should pay attention to detail, file your claim in a timely manner, and keep you updated about the status of your case. Total commitment to case success can maximize your family’s financial recovery.
Compassion. Look for compassion in your wrongful death attorney. A lawyer who truly cares about the success of the case and the future of your family can often negotiate a better settlement. Compassionate attorneys bring a fire that insurance companies can sense. If an insurance company believes the case could go to trial, it will be more likely to offer higher amounts. Compassion isn’t just about the money, however; it’s about your experience during this most difficult time.
San Diego Wrongful Death Legal Representation
If you believe the death of your loved one happened as a result of negligence or intent to harm, and the loss of this individual affects you or someone you care about, we can help you! Contact the law office of Estey & Bomberger today to determine your rights. Call our office in San Diego today! (619) 295-0035
“I was very satisfied in regard to the attorney’s handling of my case. I admit that when I started the process, I had low expectations, but I didn’t experience any frustrations or inconveniences. I am delighted with the outcome!” – Steven B.