Money may not have the power to bring back those we love, but it can help ease a family’s recovery and transition into a life without their cherished loved one. When a person’s negligence causes the death of a family member, some measure of justice should be served.
At OnderLaw, LLC, we understand how the sudden loss of a loved one can be incredibly traumatizing. While you are in an emotionally and financially vulnerable situation, negligent parties can slip away without paying you what you deserve. Don’t let them.
If you have lost a loved one in an accident, contact the Moreno Valley personal injury attorneys at OnderLaw, LLC. At OnderLaw, LLC, we can protect your rights and aggressively seek the maximum compensation you deserve. Call our Moreno Valley office today at (314) 963-9000 to talk to an attorney for free who can support you through this trying time.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death cases are similar to personal injury cases in many ways. Unfortunately, instead of the victim filing a suit themselves, the responsibility falls to surviving family members. California calls wrongful death the result of a wrongful or negligent action by another person. Wrongful death is often the result of a reckless or negligent accident like a car crash or workplace mishap. However, wrongful deaths claims can also come about because of criminal or malicious actions as well.
Situations that may lead to a family having a viable wrongful death claim include:
- Car accident
- Truck accident
- Pedestrian accident
- Bicycle accident
- Motorcycle accident
- Slip and fall or premises liability
- Medical malpractice
- Defective consumer products
- Defective medical devices
- Defective pharmaceutical drugs
Who Could Be Held Responsible and Who is Eligible to Bring a Claim?
A thorough investigation is often needed to get to the bottom of who is ultimately the responsible party. In most cases, it may simply be the individual who caused the accident. A company, employer, or even a manufacturer could also be liable for wrongful death. There are even more complicated scenarios where more than one party may bear responsibility for causing a death. Because wrongful death claims can quickly become complicated, an attorney should be brought in to help investigate the cause of the accident and collect vital evidence pointing towards who can be held responsible for damages.
An attorney can also help give family members more insight into who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit to court in California. The state dictates that only certain family members may file a wrongful death claim after losing a loved one. Typically, these loved ones are somehow dependent on the deceased for financial stability. The first family members in the state hierarchy who may bring a wrongful death claim to court include the surviving spouse or any surviving children. Domestic partners are also allowed to pursue wrongful death claims in California. In some cases, if there is no spouse or children, a surviving grandchild can file a claim.
If the victim left no spouse or children behind, those entitled to the victim’s property through intestate succession may be able to file a lawsuit. These individuals may include the victim’s parents, siblings, or a legal guardian. However, these family members will generally have to prove that they were dependent on the victim financially in some way.
The state also gives a “putative spouse” the ability to file a wrongful death claim. A putative spouse is someone who believed that they were married in good faith, even if the marriage was not valid. If someone married another person believing that they were divorced, but the divorce was never finalized, that person could be considered a putative spouse.
Compensation for Wrongful Death
No amount of money can account for the emotionally devastating loss of a beloved family member. But a wrongful death claim can help hold negligent parties accountable for their actions while giving surviving family members the financial help they need.
Calculating the value of a wrongful death claim can be difficult. Many factors need to be taken into consideration to reach a claim value. A lawyer can help you tabulate the exact value of your potential claim. In general, family members may be able to recover money for the following:
- Medical costs associated with the accident before the victim’s death
- Funeral costs
- Burial costs
- Loss of future financial support or earnings
- Loss of benefits
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Families should also be aware that California does not limit the amount of damages you may claim in a wrongful death suit. Limits are also sometimes referred to as caps. The only exception is in medical malpractice cases. California caps non-economic damages such as emotional distress or pain and suffering at $250,000 in medical malpractice suits.
Proving Negligence in California and the Statute of Limitations
Evidence needs to be presented in a wrongful death case that establishes how a party was responsible for causing an accident. A viable wrongful death suit will need to be able to prove the following:
- The defendant owed the deceased victim a duty of care
- The defendant violated this duty which resulted in the death
- The death of the victim caused damages or measurable losses to family members
An experienced Moreno Valley wrongful death attorney will be able to examine the facts surrounding your potential claim and establish if it meets these requirements.
The next step may include an in-depth investigation of the circumstances of the accident. Gathering of materials and evidence which may support the case is also needed. Evidence is vital to establishing negligence and liability. Evidence that may prove useful can include cell phone records, video surveillance, digital recordings, photographs, medical records, police reports, safety inspections, and other materials.
While it can be difficult to talk about the loss of a loved one, especially soon after it happens, getting in touch with an attorney early can be vital. The sooner an attorney can begin work on a claim, the better the chance that crucial evidence has not been either lost or destroyed.
An attorney can also help manage important deadlines. Family members in California only have two years from the date of the accident to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If a case is brought to court after the two-year statute of limitations has expired, the courts can dismiss the case without ever hearing it. Family members are then left with almost no option for recovering valuable compensation.
State Fatal Accident Statistics
Motor vehicle accidents involving reckless or negligent drivers are just one of the circumstances where a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed. The California Highway Patrol recorded 3,904 deaths in 2017 from car crashes. In 2019, Moreno Valley lost 13 people to fatal car accidents.
Pedestrian collisions may also warrant a wrongful death claim. According to numbers from UC Berkley, between 2016 and 2020, Riverside County had 370 pedestrian fatalities.
Unfortunately, workplace accidents may also result in fatalities. California’s Department of Industrial Relations published a report that found from 2010 to 2017, the equivalent of one person per day was dying from injuries suffered on the job. In 2018, there were a total of 422 fatal occupational injuries in the state. That number rose to 451 deaths in 2019. The United States Department of Labor also keeps track of the number of workplace deaths in the state and how those deaths were caused.
Why Choose OnderLaw, LLC?
The loss of a loved one can be a heavy burden to carry. You may have feelings of anger, sadness, anxiety, and uncertainty. Understand that these feelings are normal, but they may also hinder you when it comes to making important decisions. Talking to an attorney who is sensitive to your position means you have a sounding board for voicing your thoughts and concerns. An attorney can give you the support and advice you need to make difficult decisions during this challenging time.
Our attorneys will fight aggressively to get you the compensation that you deserve. You are in a particularly vulnerable position after losing a loved one and at OnderLaw, LLC we don’t allow insurers or negligent parties to take advantage of that. We use our resources and knowledge to build a compelling case against wrongdoers that gives you the best chance possible at recovering maximum compensation.
As to why you should choose the team at OnderLaw, LLC to represent you and your family, the numbers speak for themselves. In our two decades of service, we have won billions of dollars for our clients all over the country. More than that, we treat every client with dignity and respect. You deserve an attorney willing to listen to your story and offer compassionate and heartfelt advice that serves your best interests.
For a different type of legal experience, turn to the Moreno Valley team at OnderLaw, LLC. Reach out to our office to set up a free and confidential legal consultation where we can talk and plan out your next steps.
Contact an Experienced Moreno Valley Wrongful Death Lawyer
If you have lost a family member in a tragic accident, contact the legal team at OnderLaw, LLC. We want to talk to you about your situation and help you understand your legal rights. The negligent party responsible for the accident may be liable for compensating you or your family.
For more information call our office today at (314) 963-9000. The consultation is free and the peace of mind it may bring you is priceless.