The death of a loved one is one of the most devastating experiences, especially if it happens unexpectedly. The emotional pain is even more if they died due to the reckless or negligent actions of another party. Fortunately, California has laws that allow wrongful death victims to seek compensation for the losses, expenses, and pain that follow.
Going through a wrongful death claim alone, however, is not advisable. These cases are not only complex especially when it comes to proving negligence, but you are also facing emotional distress, which makes the process more difficult. Luckily, a Moreno Valley wrongful death lawyer at the Crockett Law Group are here to help seek compensation as you heal.
If you are looking to pursue a wrongful death claim in Monroe Valley, CA, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our personal injury lawyers today. At the Crockett Law Group, we understand wrongful death lawsuits and have the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to seek a fair settlement. Call our offices at (800) 900-9393 to get a free, no-obligation initial consultation!
How is Wrongful Death Defined in California?
In the Golden State, wrongful death is defined as the death of an individual caused by the reckless, intentional, criminal, or negligent actions of another party, be it a person or business. Negligence is the failure to practice reasonable care when there’s a duty to do so and that’s why it has to be proven in a wrongful death lawsuit.
The various potential legal grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit in California include:
- Criminal actions
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Pedestrian accident fatalities
- Nursing home neglect
- Improper or illegal alcohol service
- Auto Accidents Involving Driving under the influence
- Engineering malpractice or faulty construction
Who’s Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
The state law is specific in regards to parties that can file a wrongful death claim. According to California’s Wrongful Death Act, the loved ones of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim. The first individual allowed to file a wrongful death claim in the state is the spouse of the dead person. The spouse can ideally represent the interests of their children in front of the jury if they had kids with the dead person. The spouse receives a third or more of the compensation, no matter the number of young ones.
If there’s no surviving spouse or children, the law allows the surviving parents of the deceased to file a wrongful death claim. The representative from the dead individual’s estate can also file a lawsuit. The estate holds the damages and utilizes them for the benefit of the next of kin.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover From a Wrongful Death Claim in CA?
The loved ones of the deceased individual can recover the following types of damages in the state of California:
Full Value of Life Damages
These try to put a monetary value on the dead person’s life. It’s hard for the judge to determine the exact value and so, they often assign a settlement amount they deem fair. Full value life damages can be categorized into two:
This is the deceased earnings capacity. These damages are easy to calculate if the individual was a working adult. They take into account how much time the person had left in the workforce, benefits, pension as well as their salary. However, it can be hard to figure out the total of unemployed victims, senior citizens, or stay-at-home parents. The Golden State believes in assigning a value to the life of an individual and so, the jury handles the case of each victim differently to ascertain fair compensation.
These take into account that the life of the individual was cut short. As a result, they miss the chance to have a happy and meaningful life with their loved ones. Here, the judge awards damages that they deem fair to the victim’s loved ones.
Medical, Funeral & Related Expenses
The victim’s loved ones utilize these damages to handle medical, funeral, and other related expenses. As such, you’ll want to make a list of expenses resulting from the death and give it to your lawyer. They will then assess the list and advice on what you can recover through damages.
These damages are not always awarded in wrongful death lawsuits. Instead, they are awarded in cases where the liable party acted in a reckless or deliberate manner, leading to the victim’s death. Punitive damages are designed to punish the person or organization at fault and discourage others from doing the same.
Can the Surviving Family Members File for Punitive Damages?
As mentioned above, punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer. As such, they are not awarded to reimburse the surviving family members for losses. That’s why it is extremely rare for California civil courts for wrongful death lawsuits to get punitive damages.
However, the surviving loved ones can still file for punitive damages if the party liable was found to be grossly negligent or intentionally took the life of their family member, like in homicide, manslaughter, etc. In such cases, the jury may award punitive damages.
The team at The Crockett Law Group can help you seek punitive damages by showing that the defendant was malicious, intentional, or grossly negligent in their actions.
How is Negligence Proven in a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
In order to get compensation for a wrongful death case, you need to prove negligence. However, it’s often hard to prove negligence in such cases, especially if you don’t have the right legal representative. Our wrongful death attorneys in Moreno Valley will be able to work on the following elements to prove negligence:
Duty of Care
The dead individual must have been owed a duty of care by the defendant in order to prove them negligent for the death. You need to show that the defendant had a duty to keep your loved one safe and secure.
Breach of Duty
You also need to show that the defendant breached that duty of care. You need to present evidence proving they did not keep the dead safe and secure.
Next, you need to provide proof showing the cause of your loved one’s death. You need to show that the death was a direct result of the reckless or negligent actions of the defendant by providing the necessary evidence to convince the judge.
You only qualify for compensation if you can show that the deceased actually suffered these damages. The jury won’t award these damages if you can’t present adequate evidence. As such, you need to present proof of unpaid medical bills, funeral expenses, etc.
How Do I Tell If I Have a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
Losing a loved one is not easy, especially if was due to the intentional or negligent actions of another party. You can file a wrongful death claim to seek a settlement, but in most cases, people are uncertain whether they have a case. As such, it is advisable to consult a Moreno Valley wrongful death lawyer to determine if you have a claim.
First, you have to determine your eligibility for a wrongful death claim. As mentioned earlier, eligible parties include the surviving spouse, surviving parents of the deceased, surviving children, and the representative of the case.
Next, you need to determine whether the state classifies the death as wrongful. You can only make a wrongful death claim in the Golden State under certain circumstances, primarily if the other party acted in a negligent, reckless manner.
It is hard to prove negligence and every wrongful death case is different. As such, it is advisable to hire an attorney from the onset and allow them to pursue the claim on your behalf. Doing on your own only decreases your chances of compensation as the other party will likely have a legal representative as well.
At the Crockett Law Group, we will deal with all the stressful aspects of your case. Our lawyers will conduct a thorough investigation, gather evidence, interview any witnesses, and negotiate a settlement with the party at fault.
How Do I Start a Wrongful Death Claim in Monroe Valley, CA?
To file a wrongful death claim in the state of California, you must be within the statute of limitations. In CA, you have two years from the date of death to legally file a claim. If you don’t do it within this period, you’ll have no legal grounds to file a lawsuit.
However, there are exceptions where this time limit can be extended or reduced. Examples include:
- Situations where a criminal case is ongoing in a court that is dealing with the same occurrences as the claim. Here, the two-year limit will be extended until the criminal case is complete.
- Cases involving medical malpractice: If the death was due to negligence by a medical practitioner, you have three years to make the claim from when the malpractice occurred and within one year if it was discovered later.
- Claims against government entities: When comes to wrongful death claims against a government body, you have only six months from the date of the incident to make a claim.
It is advisable to use an experienced wrongful death attorney to help you with the claim. That’s because they will advise on what will and won’t hold up in front of the jury. In addition, they will conduct a thorough investigation of the death to establish what happened and collect sufficient evidence.
What is the Difference Between Wrongful Death Claim and Estate Claim?
When it comes to wrongful death claims, the surviving loved ones step into the deceased shoes and seek compensation for their life’s full value. This means the jury will be tasked with figuring out what the deceased life meant. People who are allowed to file a death claim begin with the spouse, followed by the surviving children and parents. If there are no surviving family members, then the claim becomes the estate representative’s responsibility.
In wrongful death claims, monetary damages such as work-related benefits, lost wages, and pensions are awarded. Loss of companionship, loss of enjoyment in life, emotional distress, and similar intangible benefits are also compensated.
In estate claims, on the other hand, the surviving loved ones are eligible for seeking compensation for the pain and suffering, funeral expenses, unpaid medical bills, etc. If the deceased had a will, the representative is tasked with bringing the estate claim to court. However, if there’s no will, California laws of intestacy will intervene to determine the party eligible for making an estate claim.
How Much Does a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Monroe Valley, CA Cost?
Many people tend to worry about the legal fees when it comes to making wrongful death claims. However, you do not have to fret over the fees as our Monroe Valley, CA lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means you don’t have to pay a cent upfront in order to assist you with a wrongful death claim. As our team works on your case, you will not owe us anything and we only accept payment once you successfully get a settlement or verdict. We take a certain percentage of your settlement amount and so, do not hesitate on seeking legal assistance.
Hire a Monroe Valley Lawyer for Wrongful Death Compensation Today!
If a family member dies because of the negligent or reckless actions of another person or company, you are entitled to compensation under the California Wrongful Death Act. A wrongful death claim allows you to seek physical, emotional, and financial damages for the unexpected death of your family member.
It is advisable to work with a seasoned Monroe Valley wrongful death lawyer during such a tough time. The attorney will help you file a claim and navigate the legal process. The team at the Crockett Law Group is skilled and experienced in wrongful death claims and will work to determine the value of your case and seek fair compensation.
We have been in the industry for years and have recovered damages for many clients. We are here to help so don’t hesitate to reach out by calling (800) 900-9393!