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Riverside Wrongful Death Attorneys

Helping Your Family Heal

Losing a loved one in Riverside is often one of the most personally challenging moments of an individual’s life. Whether a parent, sibling, or other family member has died, your grief and feeling of loss will not leave you for some time. In this moment, the only thing that matters to you is your ability to heal and spend time with surviving family, mourning the loss of your loved one.

During this time, grief isn’t always your only worry—your loved one may have been the breadwinner of the household or may have contributed financially and now that support is gone. This can send you into a spiral of financial hardship, especially when combined with high funeral costs associated with your loved one’s death and the high cost of living in Riverside. Read on to learn what your options are from an experienced Riverside wrongful death lawyer.

At this point, a lawsuit is the furthest thing from your mind. We understand. But we also know that the longer you wait, the more likely it is that you cannot recover compensation for your loss. If someone else was negligent, reckless, careless, or acted in some way that directly caused the death of your loved one, you should hold that individual accountable. Speaking with a skilled and experienced Riverside personal injury lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys will help you understand your options.

Causes of Riverside Wrongful Death

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 200,000 unintentional deaths take place each year. Wrongful death lawsuits emerge from these unintentional deaths to seek compensation for people like you, surviving family members of lost loved ones. While individuals can die in a variety of ways and have their deaths considered wrongful deaths, some causes are more common than others.

The best way to know if your loved one was lost because of someone else’s negligence is to speak with a trusted Riverside wrongful death attorney at Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible.

Some of the most common causes of death that lead to wrongful death claims in Riverside include:

We need to make a distinction here regarding the last item on the list: criminal acts. As we all know, criminals, when caught, face justice through our court system. If your loved one lost his or her life because of a crime, the police will try to catch the perpetrator, and the state may bring criminal charges against that individual for the crime. The important item to remember here is that a criminal court case will not provide you or your family with any financial compensation for your loss; you must file a civil claim to receive compensation.

We know that no amount of money can bring your loved one back, but we also know that you may face some high bills surrounding your loved one’s death. You should not bear any responsibility for those bills—paying those should be the responsibility of the person who caused your loved one’s death. Seeking justice for your loved one includes bringing a wrongful death claim to prove that the at-fault party is liable for your suffering and grief.

Unfortunately, criminals rarely have insurance or sufficient assets to cover your losses. In some cases, however, negligent security at hotels, theme parks, restaurants, parking lots, and other businesses may bear liability for the death of your loved one. If that’s the case, we can investigate whether we can file a wrongful death claim against the premises or business owner. Call us now so that we can hear what happened to your loved one and see what we can do to help you and your family.

Proving a Wrongful Death

Not every death satisfies the wrongful death standard—but some Riverside wrongful deaths, while they look innocent, actually qualify for a legal claim. The best way to know for sure is to speak with a seasoned wrongful death lawyer in Riverside. When you speak with a lawyer who understands what it takes to prove a wrongful death claim, you can get answers to all of your questions and understand what lies ahead.

There are four elements to proving negligence in a wrongful death claim: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

Duty of Care

A plaintiff first must establish that he or she was owed a duty of care by the defendant. The exact duty depends on the circumstances of the accident. For example, in a car accident case, the duty would be to drive safely and not put others on the road in danger.

Breach of Duty

A plaintiff must also establish that the defendant breached the duty of care. In the case of a traffic accident, driving unsafely or recklessly would constitute a breach in the duty of care. If the defendant’s unsafe driving resulted in a death, then he or she may face liability for wrongful death.

Causation

Once you have proven that the defendant breached his or her duty of care, you must then show that breach caused your loved one’s death. This is the most complex part of the wrongful death claim process, as other factors could have factored into the death of your loved one. The defense will try to argue that those other factors are what caused your loved one’s death. Our job is to show that the defendant’s negligence is what actually caused the death of your loved one.

Damages

To satisfy the damages element of a wrongful death claim, you must show that you have suffered a quantifiable loss. No amount of money will bring your loved one back, but when calculating damages, we look at what financial burdens you face because of the loss of your loved one.

The burden of proof for establishing negligence in a wrongful death claim is lower than in a criminal case. However, just because the burden is lower does not mean that the burden is easy to overcome. Depending on the specific circumstances surrounding the death of your loved one, the defense might have substantial evidence to distract a jury. This is a complex legal process that you should only trust to a Riverside wrongful death attorney whom you feel comfortable with and whom you believe will help you seek justice for your loved one.

Only Certain Parties May Bring a Wrongful Death Claims

In California, only certain parties may file wrongful death claims. The statute clearly lays out the qualifying parties:

  • The deceased person’s surviving spouse
  • The deceased person’s domestic partner
  • The deceased person’s surviving children
  • If none of the above are available to bring a wrongful death claim, then anyone who is entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession, which could include parents and siblings, may bring the claim.

If you fall into one of the aforementioned categories, and you’ve recently lost a loved one, you should speak with a wrongful death attorney in Riverside today. You deserve to seek justice for your loved one and ensure that you do not suffer any more than you already have.

Your Time to Bring a Riverside Wrongful Death Claim Is Limited

We know your focus right now is on your grief and spending time with surviving loved ones. However, in California, you only have two years after the date of your loved one’s death to bring a wrongful death claim. Two years might seem like a long time, but there is a lot to deal with during this time.

Besides that, you will also want to do everything you can to get back to your regular life. We understand this, but we also understand that the longer you wait, the less likely it is that you will seek and obtain justice for your loved one’s death.

Your feelings of sorrow and loss are completely understandable. When you come to see us, we take care of the legal complexities and let you focus on your family and your grief. While you spend time with dear family and friends, we can work on building a strong wrongful death case. Our goal is to help you heal by holding the negligent party liable for your financial loss.

Calculating Damages

Calculating damages in a wrongful death case is not easy. Depending on the age of your loved one, you may need to involve experts, including actuaries, to determine the future earning potential and savings rate of your loved one. Your Riverside wrongful death lawyer will need to calculate all of this and more to ensure that your compensation covers your financial loss and hardship.

Types of compensation that we may seek on your behalf include the following:

  • Final medical expenses
  • Funeral costs
  • Burial costs
  • Loss of income
  • Lost earning potential
  • Loss of protection
  • Loss of guidance
  • Loss of inheritance

This list is not exhaustive. Your ability to maximize your compensation hinges on the Riverside wrongful death attorney whom you choose to represent you. Not every law firm has the resources required to speak with experts, conduct depositions, and proceed to trial. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we do, and we are ready to stand by your side and help maximize your recovery and compensation.

Settlement or Trial

Riverside Wrongful Death ClaimMany clients ask us if they should focus on a quick settlement or on taking the case to trial to maximize their compensation. With us, you don’t have to choose. We can negotiate on your behalf in an attempt to settle your case quickly but for a fair amount. While we do that, we can also prepare for a trial, just in case that’s what we need to do to maximize your recovery.

What we don’t want to see is for you to settle without having a lawyer review your settlement offer. The insurance company representing the negligent party will try to settle with you very quickly.

Insurance companies do not have your best interests at heart. They try to settle quickly and for a low amount in hopes that you choose to accept without having a lawyer look over the document. They hope you just sign without reading, as a way to put this traumatic experience behind you. They hope you do not realize the settlement funds likely will not even come close to covering the funeral expenses and medical bills, let alone leave you in the same financial position as you would have found yourself if someone had not tragically taken your loved one from you.

That is why having a Riverside wrongful death attorney review your settlement offer is so important. We will know at first glance if the offer will cover all of your needs. If it does not, that’s when we can start to take action on your behalf, battling in negotiations with the insurance company. Our goal is to aggressively represent your interests and get the insurance company to settle for a fair amount, an amount that does not leave you having to pay out of pocket for any of your expenses.

If the insurance company refuses to negotiate reasonably, we are fully prepared to take your case to trial. We know you want to avoid trial, and that’s why we only recommend it when it’s the last option available to maximize recovery. During trial, we stand by you the entire way, fighting hard for justice for your loved one.

Riverside Wrongful Death FAQ

Coping with the sudden and tragic loss of a loved one traumatizes families. Financial challenges sometimes accompany the overwhelming emotional grief when a family member dies. Learning that a loved one’s death resulted from someone else’s preventable negligence adds another layer of mental anguish to the loss. We cannot bring back your loved one, but we can help you take action against the person, business, or other entity that caused your loss.

The law permits eligible family members to seek compensation for damages related to a loved one’s wrongful death in Riverside. Consult a Riverside wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Until you have the chance to discuss your case with a lawyer, the following answers to frequently asked questions about wrongful death in Riverside offer some preliminary information.

What is a Riverside wrongful death claim?

A wrongful death occurs when a person dies as the result of someone else’s negligence or intentional harm. Eligible surviving family members can take legal action by bringing a lawsuit against the allegedly responsible person, business, or entity. Commonly referred to as “wrongful death claims” or “wrongful death actions,” these lawsuits compensate families financially for their loss if the court rules in their favor.

What can lead to wrongful death in Riverside?

Many tragic events lead to death and give rise to wrongful death claims by eligible family survivors.

The most common events include:

  • Traffic accidents including car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents;
  • Pedestrian, bicycle, and scooter accidents;
  • Swimming accidents;
  • Workplace accidents;
  • Occupational illness;
  • Medical malpractice;
  • Nursing home negligence;
  • Drug overdoses;
  • Slip and fall accidents and other premises liability accidents;
  • Defective product injuries and accidents; and
  • Criminal acts, such as domestic violence or assault.

How long do I have to file a wrongful death claim in Riverside?

California has a two-year statute of limitations for eligible family members to file a lawsuit against those who caused the death of their loved one. If your loved one’s death occurred because of a government entity’s negligence, such as the City of Riverside or the State of California, you only have six months to take legal action. For minor children who want to sue over a parent’s wrongful death, the two-year statute of limitations time clock begins on their 18th birthday.

Although you have some time after the death of your loved one to bring a lawsuit, it’s in your best interests to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. The law binds California courts, so they rarely hear a case once the time limit has passed. Failure to file a lawsuit before the deadline will likely mean you will lose your chance to recover damages for losses incurred as a result of the death of your loved one.

Who can bring a Riverside wrongful death action?

After the tragic loss of a loved one, only certain people can file a wrongful death claim under California law.

They include:

  • Surviving spouses;
  • Surviving domestic partners;
  • Surviving children;
  • Parents, siblings, and other relatives when there are no spouses, partners, or children; and
  • Stepchildren and parents, if they can show that the deceased financially supported them.

In California, eligible family members can bring a wrongful death suit against the at-fault party directly or a representative of the deceased’s estate can file a lawsuit on behalf of family members.

Is an autopsy required for a Riverside wrongful death claim?

The law does not require an autopsy of your loved one to file a wrongful death claim, but your attorney will likely advise that you consent to one. Autopsies help clear up any questions about the cause of death and the time of death, which helps establish liability. If the cause of death is clear, you might not need to consent to an autopsy. If your loved one died because of medical negligence or a defective medical device, an autopsy is almost always necessary.

How long will my Riverside wrongful death claim take?

Each wrongful death claim has different underlying facts and circumstances that can impact the amount of time it takes to settle or litigate the case.

Factors that affect the timeline include:

  • Determining liability. Establishing responsibility for wrongful death is one of the most common issues that slows down the claims process. Insurance companies do not like to pay large sums of money and do not stay in business by paying each claim that comes their way. They will often use every strategy possible to deny your claim and defend their policyholder in a wrongful death lawsuit. If the allegedly at-fault person or entity denies responsibility, you will likely have to go to court. Preparing for trial often takes several months or longer.
  • Insurance policy limits. Many events can lead to wrongful death. Most cases will involve an insurance company—auto insurance carriers when traffic accidents lead to death, malpractice insurance carriers when medical negligence leads to death, homeowners’ insurance when a person dies at someone’s residence, and so on. Policy limits vary widely among different types of insurance policies. Regardless of the limit, insurance companies want to avoid maximum payout on a policy. When policy limits are high, insurance carriers will generally fight harder to avoid financial responsibility, often leading to more paperwork, more depositions, and lengthier negotiations.
  • Unfair settlement offers. Insurance companies that are fairly certain their policyholders’ negligence led to wrongful death frequently try to reduce the amount they will have to pay the victim’s family by making a low settlement offer to them soon after the death. Insurance carriers make these offers attractive enough to entice a surviving spouse or another family member to take the money as compensation for their loss. These offers are especially predatory towards families when their loved one earned most of the household income. Worried about paying bills and day-to-day living expenses, distressed survivors accept an early offer, which is likely far below fair compensation for their loss. Your attorney can help you negotiate a higher settlement, but sometimes it takes months or years to reach a fair agreement.

What kind of compensation can I receive from a Riverside wrongful death lawsuit?

Riverside Wrongful Death LawyerUnder California law, family members who win a wrongful death lawsuit can receive compensation for the following damages related to their loved one’s loss:

  • Loss of support and services from the deceased;
  • Loss of protection and companionship for a surviving spouse;
  • Loss of parental guidance, instruction, and companionship for minors;
  • Reimbursement for paid medical treatment costs until the time of death such as ambulance, emergency room treatment, surgery, and doctor visits; and
  • Reimbursement for funeral costs and burial expenses.

Can I receive punitive damages if I win my Riverside wrongful death claim?

California provides two pathways to seek compensation after a wrongful death: wrongful death claims and survival claims. You cannot receive punitive damages in a wrongful death action, but courts might punish the defendant in a survival action. A personal representative of the deceased’s estate brings a survival claim on behalf of the deceased to seek compensation for losses your loved one could have sued for had they survived.

Specifically, survivor claims deal with damages and losses that occur between the time of injury and the time of death; a representative generally cannot bring a survivor claim if your loved one died immediately from a fatal injury.

The estate could receive the following damages from a survivor claim:

  • Compensation for medical expenses from the date of injury to the date of death if they have not yet been paid;
  • Lost wages and benefits from the date of injury to the date of death; and
  • Punitive damages in rare cases that include fraud, malice, and gross negligence.

In many cases, surviving spouses or other family members initiate a wrongful death claim at the same time as a survivor claim, but these are two separate actions, both of which can produce different outcomes.

Do I have to file a Riverside wrongful death claim if the person responsible was criminally prosecuted?

If you want to recover any money damages after your loved one’s wrongful death, you must file a wrongful death claim. Criminal cases and civil cases are completely different matters and the outcomes are not connected. A jury decides if the defendant is guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case. If guilty, the defendant might have to go to jail, pay a fine, complete community service, or participate in various other court-mandated activities.

In a civil case, a jury decides if, based on a preponderance of the evidence, the defendant is responsible for the death of your loved one. If the jury rules against the defendant, they will be financially liable for damages related to the wrongful death of your family member.

How do I win a Riverside wrongful death lawsuit?

Start by calling us.

Not all accidents and injuries that lead to death are wrongful. Prevailing in a wrongful death claim requires that you, with the help of your attorney, prove the following elements:

  • You need to prove your loved one has died, typically done with an official death certificate.
  • You need to show that the negligence or willful harm of another individual, business, or entity led to the death of your loved one.
  • You must prove that you have suffered harm as a result of your loved one’s death. Harm includes economic losses, such as lost household income, and non-economic losses, such as the emotional harm and mental anguish that comes with the grief of losing a loved one.

How do I know if I have a viable Riverside wrongful death claim?

Call us and let us evaluate and investigate your case.

If your loved one died from an intentional wrongful act such as abuse, assault, or violence, you likely have a valid wrongful death case. When a car crash or other accident caused your loved one fatal injuries, your case might not be as clear. Your attorney must help you prove the elements listed above for you to receive a settlement or jury award. Many considerations can affect the viability of your wrongful death claim, so it’s best to consult with an attorney, tell your story, and let them guide you on the best path forward for your circumstances.

My spouse died from an accident in a Riverside workplace. Do I have a wrongful death claim?

Maybe. Workers’ compensation insurance provides death benefits to eligible survivors and, in most cases, prevents you from suing your partner’s employer. Yet, situations exist where a third party might have played a role in the death. For example, if someone dies from defective machinery or toxic exposure to chemicals, the manufacturers might be liable for wrongful death. Your Riverside wrongful death lawyer will evaluate your case and advise you as to who you should name in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Can I afford your Riverside wrongful death lawyers?

Yes, you can! Many victims and families suffer financially when a family member cannot continue to earn income because they are injured or have died. Our law firm is empathetic to the financial struggles that come with severe injuries and wrongful death claims, so we accept new clients on a contingency fee basis.

When you consult with our attorneys during a free initial consultation, we will evaluate the viability of your claim. If you have a valid case and you wish to hire us, you will sign a contingency agreement. This means you do not pay an upfront retainer for attorney’s fees. Instead, your attorney will advocate for you and your family to get the compensation you deserve. Your lawyer will then deduct their fees from any compensation you receive for the loss of your loved one, whether from an insurance settlement or court-awarded damages if the jury rules in your favor.

Contact our experienced Riverside wrongful death attorneys as soon as possible, so we can get to work pursuing the compensation that can help put your family back on solid financial footing after the devastating loss of your loved one.

Get Help From a Riverside Wrongful Death Lawyer Today

Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

John Gomez, Riverside Wrongful Death Lawyer

There is no pain like the untimely and unnecessary loss of a loved one. Remember that you do not have to face this time alone. We have years of experience helping grieving clients just like you. We know the tactics that insurance companies employ, and we know how to both battle them and negotiate with them, all for your benefit.

A wrongful death claim involves an extremely complex legal process, which includes the use of medical evidence. Oftentimes, this requires speaking with and understanding complex medical issues in addition to the legal issues. This is why it is so important that you work with an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Riverside who understands these complexities and can help you maximize your recovery.

We know that no amount of money will bring your loved one back or reduce the pain you feel. When you work with us, we can investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of your loved one, work with experts to make sure we have a solid case, and provide you with the opportunity you need to grieve your loss.

Contact us online or by calling (619) 237-3490 today. We look forward to speaking with you and helping you through this challenging time. We offer free consultations, during which you can determine your eligibility to file a wrongful death claim.


Gomez Trial Attorneys
11840 Pierce Street STE 200
Riverside, CA 92505
(619) 237.3490

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