Personal Injury firm Estey & Bomberger, LLP co-founder Stephen Estey discusses details about their wrongful death cases.
Wrongful death refers to the death of a person due to someone else’s negligence, carelessness, or intent to harm. If someone else’s preventable mistake or error resulted in the death of a loved one, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim in Riverside. Filing a civil claim may feel like the last thing you want to do while coping with a devastating loss, but it can result in significant compensation for your family’s mental anguish, loss of companionship, funeral/burial expenses, and other damages. Furthermore, a lawsuit can bring you peace of mind and a sense of closure, serving justice to the responsible party.
In 2015, there were 3,176 traffic fatalities in California. Driver error was the cause of most of these accidents, such as driving while intoxicated, speeding, and texting and driving. Car, truck, and motorcycle accident fatalities constitute wrongful death if someone’s negligence – a driver, vehicle manufacturer, roadway maintenance crew, or other party – caused the crash. For example, if a pedestrian passed away because a drunk driver struck him or her in a crosswalk, the pedestrian’s family could sue the intoxicated driver for wrongful death.
Premises liability accidents are also common reasons to file a wrongful death claim. The courts will hold property owners liable for a death if they were negligent in their duty to provide for the reasonable safety of visitors, resulting in the death of an individual. Imagine, for instance, someone died in an elevator accident in the mall. If property owners knew, or you can prove they reasonably should have known, about the elevator’s defect and failed to fix the problem, they would be liable for the death of the victim. Medical malpractice is another frequent cause of death. If a fatality is the result of a doctor or medical staff’s negligence, there could be solid ground for a suit.
If you’re unsure whether your case is a wrongful death case, Estey & Bomberger, LLP can help. Our expert wrongful death attorneys can guide you sort through the confusing aftermath of such an accident and determine whether you’re entitled to damages.
Each state has specific laws surrounding who may file a wrongful death claim. In the state of California the following relatives of the deceased may file a wrongful death claim:
Under certain circumstances the grandparents, siblings and other relatives may also file.
It’s also important to note that wrongful death cases must be filed within a certain period of time. California’s statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of the accident. That means if you do not file within two years, you lose the right to sue for damages.
If you are filing a claim against a government entity, that claim must be filed with six months of the accident. If the claim is rejected by the government entity, you have an additional six months to file a lawsuit.
There are several types of compensation you may be entitled to including medical and funeral expenses, the amount of economic support you would have receive had the deceased individual lived, and in some cases, money to compensate you for grief, or loss of companionship.
Punitive damages are also a possibility in some cases. These types of damages are awarded if a defendant’s actions were particularly reckless or heinous, and are a means of punishing the defendant. They are typically awarded at the discretion of a jury.
As is the case in most states, only certain people have the right to file a wrongful death claim in California. The deceased person must be the plaintiff’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, or child. If there are no surviving persons in the deceased person’s line of decent, the courts will allow anyone entitled to the deceased person’s property by intestate succession to file the claim. This may be the deceased person’s parents or siblings. Finally, if they can show they had a financial dependence on the deceased person, a deceased person’s putative spouse, children of a putative spouse, stepchildren, and parents may file a wrongful death claim.
Damages available in a wrongful death lawsuit in California are different than those of a typical personal injury lawsuit. While a wrongful death claim can result in compensation for the deceased person’s medical bills up to the time of death, lost wages, and pain and suffering, it can also compensate for:
The judge will consider a deceased person’s life expectancy at time of death, health before the accident, age, and occupation when deciding on compensation amounts for wrongful death claims.
Estey & Bomberger is not like other law firms. We do not settle just to make a case go away quickly and easily. Our attorneys are prepared to take any case to trial if a fair and reasonable settlement is not reached within a realistic period of time.
If you have questions about your eligibility to file a claim, contact us. We provide free consultations. And with Estey & Bomberger representation, you don’t pay a cent unless we recover compensation for you.
If you are hesitant to contact us about your claim, it may help you to gain an understanding of what personal injury law is, and what is is not. We are ready to help you. Whether you prefer talking on the phone, coming into our office in Riverside, or you need us to come to where you are, give us a call at 951-543-9020 to schedule an appointment.