El Centro Wrongful Death Lawyers
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El Centro Wrongful Death Lawyers
Losing a loved one is often a traumatic experience, particularly when another party’s negligence causes the loss. When you lose a loved one, you may lose the income that person provided for the family, even as you mourn the loss of his or her companionship. Not only that, but you will also quickly realize how much that person contributed to your household—and just how hard it gets to take on his or her former responsibilities in the aftermath of the loss.
Gomez Trial Attorneys Past Wrongful Death Claim Results
At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we have a long history of working with clients who lost family members due to another party’s negligence.
Our past results don’t guarantee a particular result in any future claim; however, we have achieved substantial results in many claims, including:
- $106,000,000 awarded in a wrongful death claim
- $10,000,000 wrongful death settlement
- $7,000,000 in a wrongful death settlement
- $6,000,000 in a wrongful death settlement
Having an experienced attorney on your side can bring advantages to your wrongful death claim. First and foremost, a personal injury attorney will give you an idea of the full compensation you should seek for the loss of your loved one, based on the type of accident and the party that caused your loved one’s death.
An attorney can also:
- Help collect evidence about the accident. You may have no idea what actually occurred during the accident. An attorney, however, can help collect valuable evidence related to your loved one’s injuries, from video footage of an auto accident to witness statements regarding a construction accident. That evidence can help establish liability in the accident, including, in some cases, identifying more than one party that may share liability for the loss of your loved one.
- Negotiate with the insurance company or liable party. Many insurance companies will attempt to limit their financial liability after an accident, including one that results in death, as much as possible. They may send you a settlement offer soon after the loss of your loved one. If you accept that offer, however, it will prevent you from seeking future compensation for the loss of a loved one. In many cases, the offer does not reflect the full funds that you deserve. An attorney can negotiate on your behalf, increasing the odds that you will maximize your compensation.
Common Wrongful Death Claims
Many situations can result in loss of life through negligence, even without malice involved. Any time a victim loses his or her life in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, the surviving family may have the right to file a wrongful death claim. Common situations that lead to wrongful death claims include:
In a single year, more than 9,000 people lost their lives in auto accidents around the San Diego area. From distracted driving to drivers who ignore the rules of the road, auto accidents can occur in the blink of an eye. Many auto accidents prove fatal immediately. Others, however, may cause injuries that linger but ultimately lead to the death of your loved one.
In the case of auto accidents, you may need an attorney to investigate the terms of the accident to get a full picture of who caused the accident and from whom, therefore, you should pursue compensation.
Liable parties may include:
- The driver of the vehicle. Drivers bear responsibility for their own driving decisions, from deciding to drive while inebriated or distracted, to failing to follow the rules of the road. Drivers must also maintain their vehicles to avoid increased accident risk.
- The driver’s employer. A driver on the clock at the time of the accident may share liability with his or her employer, especially if that employer acts irresponsibly or requires the driver to continue operating in unsafe conditions.
- The manufacturer of the vehicle. The vehicle manufacturer must provide a product that does not pose a substantial danger to everyone on the road. A manufacturer that fails in its responsibility may share liability for an accident and any injuries or losses that occur as a result.
- A mechanic that recently worked on the vehicle. If a mechanic failed to properly fix a problem, or if that mechanic did not note an obvious problem that led to the accident, the mechanic may share liability for the accident.
Construction sites often carry multiple hazards: heavy machinery, open electrical wires, and unsafe conditions, including heavy items that can fall from heights or the need to work from heights.
Like auto accidents, construction accidents may involve several liable parties, including:
- The construction company. The company that has primary responsibility for the site also bears primary liability for any injuries or deaths that occur on the construction site.
- Any subcontractors on the site. Subcontractors bear direct responsibility for the areas where they complete their work. An electrician, for example, bears primary responsibility for any accidents that occur due to improper wiring.
- The owner of the site. While construction workers bear primary liability for the job site itself, the owner of the job site bears liability for features of the site.
Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Many elderly individuals move into nursing homes with the assumption that they will provide a high quality of care. Unfortunately, in some nursing homes, the residents do not receive adequate care. In fact, they may undergo abuse at the hands of nursing home staff or receive otherwise sub-par care. Some nursing homes may fail to ensure that patients get needed medical care, especially if patients show signs of neglect. In many cases, including very elderly or frail individuals, a lack of proper care can lead to death.
Product Liability Accidents
Product liability accidents can lead to death when a product does not behave according to its specifications when used in the intended manner. Improperly constructed products can cause severe burns, amputations, spinal cord injuries, severe lacerations, and even death. Both the manufacturer and the distributor of such products may bear liability for a product accident that results in death, especially if the distributor did not remove the product from store shelves after a recall.
Premises Liability Accidents
From slip and fall accidents to dangerous stairs, swimming pool hazards, and dangerous animals, premise liability accidents claim many lives every year. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the owner of the premises may share liability with a business operating on the property. For example, if someone suffers a slip and fall accident on dangerous stairs, resulting in death, the business operating in that space may bear primary liability for failing to put up proper signs, but the owner of the premises may share liability due to a lack of repair or inattention to the stairs’ danger.
Seeking Compensation for Wrongful Death: How Much to Expect
Losing a loved one may leave you facing substantial financial losses as well as bearing the weight of the emotional loss. Talk with an attorney to learn more about how much compensation you should expect for a wrongful death claim. The amount of compensation that you ultimately receive may depend on several factors.
What relationship do you bear to the deceased?
To file a wrongful death claim, in most cases, you will need to bear a direct relationship to the deceased. The spouse of the deceased has the first right to seek compensation, followed by the children of the deceased. If no spouse or children exist, the parents of the deceased may have the right to compensation. If you receive financial support from the deceased, even if you do not fall into one of these categories, you may still be eligible; you should talk to a lawyer to determine whether you have the right to a wrongful death claim.
Keep in mind that you can file only one wrongful death claim per deceased individual, even if multiple parties have the right to file a claim. If multiple parties share the right to compensation for the loss of a loved one, as in the case of multiple children of a deceased parent with no spouse, you will need to file a single wrongful death claim and work out the distribution of those funds yourself.
What financial and/or personal losses have you experienced as a result of your loved one’s death?
A wrongful death claim helps provide needed financial compensation for the losses that family members experience due to their loved one’s passing. Talk with an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more about what compensation you, specifically, should expect.
Most people, when filing a wrongful death claim, include:
Any medical bills your loved one accumulated before death. Your loved one does not have to have died immediately, at the time of the accident, for you to have grounds for a wrongful death claim. Before death, your loved one may have accumulated significant medical expenses: ambulance transport, emergency room fees, emergency procedures, and hospitalization, for example. You can include these medical expenses as part of your wrongful death claim.
Loss of your loved one’s income. If your loved one provided the primary income for your family, you may need compensation for that lost income to make it possible for you to rebuild your life. Compensation for lost income can make it possible for a surviving spouse to return to work or for children to grow up enough to support themselves.
Loss of the services that your loved one provided to the family. In addition to financial support, your loved one may have provided many services to the family, all of which you must somehow handle on your own after his loss. For many families, that means paying for those services, which can substantially increase the family’s overall costs.
This may include services like:
- Senior care
- Food preparation
- Home maintenance
- Vehicle maintenance
In many cases, the value of the services your loved one provided to the family may exceed the actual value of his or her former income, especially if that individual was not the primary wage earner. Talk to a lawyer to learn more about how these services can impact the compensation you receive in a wrongful death claim.
Loss of companionship. Losing your spouse means that you lose your partner: the person you expected to spend the rest of your life with. Loss of a child means that the parent loses all the hopes and dreams that went along with that child, while losing a parent can leave the child without the valuable advice and guidance that parent could otherwise have provided throughout the child’s lifetime. You cannot restore the loss of that companionship with financial compensation, but you can get much-needed funds that can help you rebuild many areas of your life in spite of that loss.
El Centro Wrongful Death FAQ
Life in California’s Imperial Valley is full of joys and sorrows. Perhaps no sorrow feels more profound than losing a loved one before his or her time due to an accident or incident that was someone else’s fault.
No matter if the tragedy occurs in an accident on I-8, in an incident on one of the area’s numerous farms, at a detention facility near the border, or in one of the countless other ways that Californians can lose their lives, the loss feels doubly unfair and the pain doubly profound when someone we love dies in a seemingly senseless, random event that never should have occurred.
A sudden, unexpected loss of life leaves a large void in the lives of those left behind. Oftentimes, the sudden absence of a loved one inflicts not just physical and emotional pain, but severe financial pain as well. The accidental death of a working adult can leave a family struggling with a substantial loss of income. The death of a young person can erase the potential of a bright future.
The surviving family members of El Centro residents, workers, and visitors who have died tragically in preventable accidents and incidents deserve compensation. Money cannot bring back a loved one, but it can help support grieving spouses, children, and parents by replacing lost income and paying for services that help them rebuild from the loss.
Below, we answer frequently asked questions about how families can obtain compensation for the loss of a loved one through legal action. For answers to specific questions about your family’s legal rights after a tragic loss, contact the experienced wrongful death attorneys at Gomez Trial Attorneys.
What is wrongful death?
Under California law, a wrongful death results from someone else’s wrongful act or neglect. To put it another way, if the person who died had survived the injuries that led to the person’s death, and could have sued for those injuries, then the law treats the death as wrongful.
Examples of wrongful deaths include:
- Fatalities in traffic accidents
- Deaths resulting from injuries suffered in preventable falls
- Losses of life caused by negligence or wrongful conduct in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
- Fatal health complications caused by a medical error
- Deaths caused by intentionally harmful or violent conduct
Virtually any death that results from the careless, reckless, or intentionally-harmful actions of someone other than the person who died may constitute a wrongful death under California law.
Who can sue for wrongful death in El Centro?
Generally speaking, a deceased person’s spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren (if no children are living), and anyone else who would inherit the decedent’s estate under California law if the deceased person did not have a will all have the right to pursue a wrongful death action in California. These parties may do so through a personal representative acting on their behalf.
Only one wrongful death action can be filed in connection with someone’s death, however. The family members listed above do not each have the right to file a separate lawsuit.
To evaluate and protect your or your family’s right to file a wrongful death lawsuit, speak with an experienced El Centro wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after suffering a tragic loss.
What do you sue for in an El Centro wrongful death lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit seeks compensation for the harm done to the surviving family members following someone’s unexpected death. Under California law, a court may award the grieving family whatever damages are “just” under the circumstances.
Awards vary but often include compensation for:
- Loss of income the decedent contributed to his or her household
- Monetary damages associated with the death, such as funeral and burial costs
- Loss of the value of household services that the decedent provided
- Loss of gifts or benefits the decedent would have provided
- Loss of consortium between the decedent and a surviving spouse
- Loss of guidance provided by the decedent
Family members are not, however, entitled to seek compensation for their own pain and suffering, nor may they seek compensation for the deceased individual’s pain and suffering before dying.
An experienced El Centro wrongful death attorney can evaluate the impact your loved one’s death has had on you and your family and determine the compensation you should seek in your wrongful death action.
What about the damages the deceased individual could have sued for?
Separate from a wrongful death lawsuit, California law also allows the legal representative of the deceased person’s estate to file and pursue any lawsuit the decedent could have filed had he or she survived.
This lawsuit, sometimes referred to as a survival action, often goes hand-in-hand with a wrongful death lawsuit, but unlike a wrongful death lawsuit, the money this type of claim recovers goes to the decedent’s estate first to pay its debts, before any remainder is distributed to surviving family members or others.
A survival action can seek compensation for any damages the decedent sustained before dying, including punitive damages, but cannot seek compensation for pain, suffering, or disfigurement. A survival action and a wrongful death action also cannot seek duplicate damages.
My loved one died in an accident at work in El Centro. Can I sue for wrongful death?
Possibly, but it depends on the circumstances of your loved one’s death. You also likely have the right to receive workers’ compensation death benefits. Speak with an experienced El Centro wrongful death attorney today to learn about your rights.
All California employers must purchase workers’ compensation insurance to protect workers against the costs of workplace injuries and illnesses. That insurance also covers workers’ families against work-related fatalities.
In California, spouses, children, and other survivors of workers who die in work-related accidents and incidents have rights to receive death benefits that may include:
- Up to $10,000 for funeral and burial expenses
- A minimum of $250,000 in wage-replacement benefits, with amounts increasing based on the number of dependents
Virtually all California workers’ families, including families of undocumented workers, have the right to receive workers’ compensation death benefits when a loved one dies in a work-related incident.
In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, your family may also have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in connection with your loved one’s death. Under California workers’ compensation rules, you cannot file a lawsuit against your loved one’s employer or co-worker. However, you may have the right to sue a third party (someone other than an employer or co-worker) if that third party’s unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions caused your loved one’s death.
For example, the family of a construction worker who dies on the job while using defective construction equipment may have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the manufacturer of that equipment.
An experienced El Centro wrongful death lawyer can advise you about your family’s legal rights if your loved one died from a work-related injury or illness.
How long does my family have to file a wrongful death lawsuit?
Generally speaking, under California law, family members have two years from the date of their loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The law may extend that period up to six months if the deceased individual initially survived the accident, but later died from injuries sustained.
Families of workers who die from work-related injuries and illnesses, however, should file their claims as soon as possible. In most cases, families have just one year to apply for workers’ compensation death benefits.
Keep in mind that the periods above represent the outside time limits for taking legal action. The deadline should not be your target filing date. An experienced El Centro wrongful death attorney will typically want to get started preparing a lawsuit as soon as possible, so if possible, families should not wait to seek legal advice about their rights after a tragic loss.
Do I need a lawyer to file an El Centro wrongful death lawsuit?
Yes. It’s challenging to maximize your compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit without the representation of an experienced El Centro wrongful death attorney.
Legal claims involving accidental deaths represent some of the most complicated and difficult of all personal injury matters. These claims often attract attention from law enforcement, regulators, members of the media, and insurance adjusters, and can trigger lengthy official investigations. At a minimum, each claim involves a tragic event—a death—which should not have happened and may prompt the at-fault parties to hide evidence, deny responsibility, or shift blame to the victim.
Grieving families confronted with a sudden, unexpected loss need a steady hand to guide them through complex legal proceedings following a death. Do not trust just any wrongful death lawyer with this weighty task. Instead, find an attorney with years of experience advocating for families of El Centro and Imperial Valley residents, workers, and visitors who have tragically lost loved ones because of someone else’s wrongful conduct.
What will an El Centro wrongful death lawyer do for me and my family?
The specific actions and steps that an experienced El Centro wrongful death attorney may take on a grieving family’s behalf will vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case.
The attorney should, however, have the skill, know-how, and resources to:
- Investigate the root causes of a wrongful death, to determine exactly whose wrongful decisions or actions caused the tragedy.
- Evaluate the scope of the loss caused by the wrongful death, such as the deceased individual’s role in a family and expected future income.
- Plan a comprehensive legal strategy tailored to the grieving family’s specific needs and goals.
- Communicate with the grieving family about that plan, and answer their questions in language that they can understand.
- Handle interactions with media and official investigators on the family’s behalf.
- Prepare and file a wrongful death lawsuit in California court.
- Negotiate a potential settlement with defense lawyers and insurance adjusters, if doing so has the prospect of obtaining full and fair compensation.
- Litigate the case in California court, including by taking it to trial in front of a judge and jury.
How much does an experienced El Centro wrongful death lawyer cost?
It costs nothing to meet with our experienced El Centro wrongful death lawyers for an initial consultation. At that consultation, a wrongful death lawyer can learn about the death, and the family can size up the lawyer’s experience, knowledge, track-record, and working style.
All of our El Centro wrongful death lawyers represent our clients on a contingency fee basis. This is an arrangement between lawyers and their clients in which the lawyer’s fee consists of a percentage of any money the lawyer recovers on the clients’ behalf. You pay no money upfront, and our lawyers do not bill you by the hour or by the task. In other words, the client pays the lawyer nothing unless the lawyer secures compensation for the client.
Never let your family’s worries about finances keep you from speaking with an experienced El Centro wrongful death lawyer. If you’ve delayed reaching out due to financial constraints, schedule a free consultation with Gomez Trial Attorneys today.
When should I contact an El Centro wrongful death lawyer?
As soon as possible after your loved one dies or suffers a serious injury that could lead to death.
Many people hesitate to call a lawyer right away after a loved one’s death. It may feel unnatural to consider lawsuits and compensation after you’ve loved a beloved family member.
Rest assured that skilled, compassionate wrongful death lawyers understand that concern, and know that money cannot bring back a loved one. They also know, however, that timing matters in pursuing a wrongful death claim and/or a claim for workers’ compensation death benefits. The sooner your family retains an attorney to begin working on your behalf, the better your family’s chances of ensuring justice and recovering compensation.
For more answers to your questions about El Centro wrongful death claims, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today.
Contact an Experienced El Centro Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Losing a loved one may leave you confused, grieving, and wondering what to do next.
If you lost a loved one due to another party’s negligence, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today at (760)-259-2166 to receive a free consultation concerning your loved one’s death and a better idea of the steps you need to take next as you work to seek compensation for your loss.
Gomez Trial Attorneys
2299 West Adams Avenue, Suite 102
El Centro, CA 92243
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