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The laws of personal injury deal with loss. When someone is injured by the actions of someone else, that person faces several forms of loss that are physical, emotional and financial in nature. The purpose of personal injury laws is to make that person who has been harmed as whole as possible. When it comes to sudden loss, nothing is equal to the loss of a life. When families find themselves dealing with enormous amounts of grief, sadness, shock and anger because a loved one has been killed by someone else, those families are often unsure of where to turn for help. Working through a sudden death of a loved one is more than enough to have to attempt to handle. People in this position need to contact the San Diego wrongful death lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible.
For more than a decade, Gomez Trial Attorneys has been standing up for the rights of suffering families as San Diego wrongful death lawyers. There are several different types of cases that we handle, including wrongful deaths caused by:
A wrongful death case can arise from several different scenarios. Whichever way such a situation arises, you need to have your situation analyzed as soon as possible after the death occurs.
Few if any types of cases involve more actual financial loss than wrongful death cases. Below are just a few examples of the types of damages that could be pursued and recovered in a wrongful death action:
Every wrongful death case should be analyzed by San Diego wrongful death lawyers who have handled these cases many times in the past. Every case is different and each requires an experienced professional hand in determining the types of losses that should be pursued.
If you lose someone you love because of the negligence, recklessness or even the intentional acts of someone else, you face a very difficult situation. You have suddenly lost a loved one and you need to be able to focus on the grieving process so that you can move forward in your struggle to carry on with your life. This is not the time to attempt to work through the complicated world of wrongful death lawsuits. You will most likely be dealing with experienced defense attorneys and other professionals whose job is to limit the financial liability of the defendant or defendants.
The San Diego wrongful death lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys have been fighting successfully for clients facing this difficult situation for several years. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we have extensive experience in a range of personal injury and wrongful death claims. Take a look at our past results:
Because every case is unique, we can not guarantee specific results in your wrongful death claim. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we have an experienced team dedicated to helping our clients seek the compensation they need and deserve. Our attorneys will fight hard for the financial compensation your family needs after losing a loved one.
To file a wrongful death claim, you must have lost a family member due to someone else’s negligence. Several factors contribute to whether you have grounds to file a wrongful death claim.
To file a wrongful death claim, you will need to prove that someone owed the decedent a duty of care. Then, you must show the individual failed to provide that duty of care. You must show that the failure to exercise the appropriate duty of care lead to the incident causing your loved one’s death. In a nursing home neglect claim, for example, a facility may fail to provide adequate care. If their failure to provide adequate care caused a fall that ultimately led to your loved one’s death, you may be able to file a claim. In a construction accident, you might file a claim against the company that failed to provide adequate precautions at a construction site. To determine the parties responsible for an accident, you may ask:
Losing a loved one can cause incredible pain regardless of your relationship to the decedent. However, only certain relationships entitle individuals to file a wrongful death claim. Typically, the spouse of the deceased has the first right to file a wrongful death claim. If the deceased had no spouse, other family members may have the right to file a claim. For example:
In certain circumstances, the decedent’s estate may file a claim to recoup medical expenses and settle any debts. If you lose a loved one, your family can file only one wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent. If multiple responsible parties contributed to the accident, you may file a claim against each of them.
However, you cannot file separate claims for different members of the family. Instead, you will list the total losses among all family members in a single claim. If one member of the family files a claim or accepts a settlement, others may be prevented from seeking further compensation. To help prevent confusion, members of the family should work together to decide how to handle a wrongful death claim.
Two people who have lost loved ones in very similar accidents may receive vastly different compensation. The amount of compensation will depend on the maximum compensation set by the responsible party’s insurance company. When you put together your claims package, several important elements will help determine the amount of compensation you deserve.
To file a wrongful death claim, the decedent need not have died immediately at the scene of the accident. Often, your loved one may survive, sometimes for days or even weeks, before succumbing to his injuries. In these circumstances your family may also be entitled to:
When you lose your family’s primary breadwinner, you may struggle to handle your financial obligations. Your family may be especially affected if the surviving spouse does not work outside the home. As a spouse, losing that income can leave you unsure of what to do next. Financial stress coupled with the grief from your loss can be overwhelming. Others may also have financial expectations from the deceased individual. For example, children who required their parents’ support or adult children who needed assistance attending school. In addition, elderly parents may have relied on financial assistance from an adult child. Oftentimes, other elderly relatives may have also received regular support from the deceased.
In addition to their income, most individuals provide a wide range of services to their family members. As part of your wrongful death claim, work with an attorney to determine what services your loved one provided. Your attorney can help you predict how much it will cost to replace those services after their loss. Some service contributions that you may be compensated for include:
Carefully consider the services your loved one provided to the family before death. We know a wrongful death claim cannot replace your loved one. However, it can enable you to replace some of the services they provided to your family. When a loved one is taken from you due to another’s negligence, you and your family deserve to maintain the quality of life you enjoyed before the loss of a loved one.
The loss of a loved one creates a void that many families struggle to fill. While you may have difficulty quantifying that loss, by working with an attorney, you can get a better picture of what compensation you deserve. You may be compensated for the loss of your loved one’s presence in your life. Damages might include:
When someone dies in an accident, insurance adjusters know the company needs to provide compensation to the decedent’s family. Often, insurance companies will provide families with settlement offers shortly after your loved one’s death. You will likely be tempted by their offer. However, always consult with an attorney before accepting. You may discover that the insurance company did not offer adequate compensation for your loss. An attorney can help you negotiate a higher settlement amount to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
An attorney can assist you in creating a wrongful death claim package incorporating all the financial elements of your loss. You will request a specific amount from the insurance company—often a much higher amount than the insurance company will offer. Then, the insurance company will consider your request and either accept it or issue a return offer. You then have the right to accept the return offer or continue to negotiate.
In some cases, you may go through several rounds of negotiation before accepting a settlement. In others, you may need to turn to arbitration or even go to court to seek the compensation you deserve. Having an attorney on your side can help make that process easier. Experienced attorneys can provide critical advice in calculating your loss to help you manage negotiations. Many insurance companies will offer more compensation when you retain a lawyer, since they want to avoid a court battle.
No matter where they happen, whether in Rancho Bernardo homes, on La Jolla beaches, or near the border in San Ysidro or Otay Mesa, fatal accidents in San Diego inflict a uniformly devastating impact on families and communities. Loved ones who die before their time because of someone else’s careless or reckless actions leave behind spouses, children, and other survivors who must cope with an enormous personal, emotional, and (often) financial, loss.
A San Diego wrongful death attorney can answer questions those survivors often have about their legal rights and options. General answers to common questions about San Diego wrongful death cases appear below. For specific answers to your questions after a tragic accident or incident in San Diego takes the life of a loved one, contact an attorney today.
Lawyers refer to a death as wrongful when it results from the careless, reckless, or intentional actions of someone other than the person who died.
Any death has the potential to qualify as wrongful, depending upon the circumstances which led to it happening. In our everyday lives, the people, businesses, institutions, and others we interact with owe us a basic obligation not to engage in conduct and not to make decisions that unreasonably put us in harm’s way. Broadly speaking, any loss of life resulting from a violation of that basic obligation can be a wrongful one.
For example, San Diego wrongful deaths can occur because of:
This is not a complete list. An experienced San Diego wrongful death lawyer can help you explore whether your loved one’s untimely death qualifies as wrongful.
Under California law, if you are the victim’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, child, or (in some cases) grandchild or parent, or if you were otherwise a dependent of the victim, then you or a representative of the victim acting on your behalf may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party or parties at-fault for your loved one’s death. In the event the victim left behind multiple individuals fitting that description, they may still file only one wrongful death lawsuit.
In addition, under a separate California statute, you or the representative of your loved one’s estate may also have the right to file a lawsuit known as a decedent’s cause of action (also sometimes called a survival action), asserting claims for damages your loved one could have pursued had they not died.
Families or personal representatives commonly combine these two types of lawsuits into a single legal action filed in a San Diego court. Lawyers and judges will frequently also refer to the combined lawsuit as a wrongful death claim, but technically, they are separate lawsuits; one is your claim for your loved one’s wrongful death, and the other is the claim that would have belonged to your loved one.
A San Diego wrongful death attorney can advise survivors like you on deciding whether, when, and how to file a lawsuit arising from a loved one’s death.
In the wrongful death portion of a lawsuit arising out of a loved one’s passing, California law permits a court to award whatever damages it deems just.
This can vary, but may include:
In the decedent’s cause of action portion of the lawsuit, California law also permits damages consisting of “loss or damage that the decedent sustained or incurred before death,” such as:
Unlike lawsuits in San Diego in which the injured person survives, however, neither the wrongful death claim nor the decedent’s cause of action can seek payment for your or your deceased loved one’s pain and suffering.
The categories above are specific to wrongful death cases in California. Other states may have different rules related to the damages recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death lawyer can explain your rights and inform you about your legal options moving forward.
If your loved one died in an accident or incident at work in San Diego, then you likely have the right to receive death benefits from the workers’ compensation insurance that covered your loved one.
All California employers have a legal obligation to purchase workers’ compensation insurance covering their workers, and virtually all San Diego workers—regardless of their industry, job title, work responsibilities, status as employees or contractors, weekly hours, or immigration status—have the right to workers’ compensation coverage.
California law requires workers’ compensation insurance to pay death benefits to the surviving spouse, child, or family of a worker who dies.
Those benefits include:
Nearly all families of workers who die in fatal work accidents in San Diego have the right to receive these death benefits, even families of undocumented workers.
As the surviving spouse or family member of a deceased worker, you may also have the right to file a lawsuit seeking additional compensation, over-and-above whatever workers’ compensation death benefits you receive.
Under California law, you generally cannot sue your late family member’s employer or co-workers if you receive workers’ compensation death benefits. However, the circumstances of your loved one’s death may give you the right to sue someone other than your loved one’s employer or co-worker, if that party’s decisions or actions caused your loved one’s death. For example, the surviving spouse of a San Diego road construction worker may have the right to sue the careless driver of a vehicle that struck and killed the worker on a road construction site.
Speak with a San Diego wrongful death attorney to learn more about your rights if your loved one died in an accident at work.
Yes. California law generally limits you to two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit, with the potential for a six-month extension if your loved one did not perish immediately from the injuries that ultimately resulted in death. If your loved one died from a work-related injury or illness, however, then you may have as little as one year to apply for workers’ compensation death benefits. There are other exceptions that can shorten the statute of limitations, such as if the claim is against a government agency, then it must be made within six months.
Failing to take action within the time limits set by law risks forfeiting your rights to file a wrongful death lawsuit or to apply for death benefits. To protect yourself, we strongly recommend speaking with a wrongful death attorney in San Diego as soon as you can after your loved one’s death.
Yes and no.
Some personal injury lawyers handle wrongful death cases. However, representing clients in a wrongful death case can often require more specialized knowledge than it takes to seek compensation in a personal injury matter in which the victim survives.
Unlike many simpler personal injury matters, for example, wrongful death cases virtually always involve official investigations and may have some degree of media attention, which the right wrongful death attorney must take into account in devising a legal strategy.
In addition, the parties at-fault for a wrongful death may face separate criminal liability, and a criminal prosecution can affect the timing of and evidence available in a wrongful death claim. Also, wrongful death damages tend to fall at the high end of the spectrum of financial compensation, which means that the at-fault parties and their insurance companies often have an incentive to fight aggressively to limit their financial exposure.
In other words, do not put your case in the hands of an attorney who lacks experience navigating the complexities of a wrongful death representation. In the aftermath of the tragic death of your loved one in a San Diego-area accident or incident, you and your family need the guidance of an attorney who has handled wrongful death cases successfully in the past, and who understands the legal, emotional, and practical challenges you currently face.
Nothing up front. Most San Diego wrongful death lawyers take cases on contingency.
Families facing the sudden loss of a loved one often find themselves in dire financial circumstances. Fatal accidents and mistakes in San Diego frequently rob families not just of a beloved spouse, parent, or child, but also of that person’s income and future financial prospects. In addition, while some victims perish immediately from their injuries, others survive for a while before passing away, burdening them, their estate, and their families with large medical bills to pay.
The last thing many families can afford, in other words, is to pay for a lawyer.
They do not need to worry. Wrongful death lawyers almost always represent their clients on a contingent fee basis. Instead of charging clients an upfront retainer or billing by-the-hour, contingent fee wrongful death lawyers work in exchange for a percentage of any compensations secured on their clients’ behalf.
By representing families grieving the loss of a loved one on contingency, wrongful death lawyers make their services available to all who need them, giving families access to justice no matter what their financial circumstances.
As soon as possible.
We understand that some families feel uncertain about hiring a lawyer immediately after losing a loved one. Some worry it makes them look like they are trying to profit from their loved one’s death. Others simply feel overwhelmed, and do not think they can spare the time or effort to concentrate on picking an attorney.
These are normal concerns to have. Rest assured, however, that a wrongful death lawyer aims to protect grieving spouses and families during a difficult time, and to take the steps necessary to ensure that at-fault parties, insurance companies, and others treat them fairly and with the respect they deserve.
By contacting an attorney quickly, families give themselves the strongest protections against parties who might try to take advantage of their difficult circumstances. For example, sometimes insurance companies that know that they face financial exposure for a fatal accident may offer families a quick cash settlement that, while it seems like a lot of money, falls far short of the actual amount the family deserves to receive. Wrongful death lawyers safeguard vulnerable families from these kinds of tactics.
Likewise, a wrongful death attorney can serve as a buffer between the family and press, law enforcement, insurance adjusters, and others who may demand their time and attention. Lawyers speak on behalf of their clients, so their clients have the space they need to come to terms with their loss.
To learn more about how a San Diego wrongful death lawyer can help you during this difficult time, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today for a free case consultation.
You can file a wrongful death claim against each entity responsible for the loss of your loved one, but you cannot file more than one wrongful death claim for the loss of a single individual, even if multiple parties have the right to claim compensation for that loss. For example, if the deceased has no spouse, but several surviving children, those children will need to work together to file a single wrongful death claim. The family can decide among its members how to distribute the funds gained through a wrongful death claim. The court will not award separate claims to the different individuals impacted by the loss of a loved one.
If you lost a loved one in San Diego due to another party’s negligence, you may need an attorney. An attorney will help you navigate the wrongful death claims process. Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys at (619) 237-3490 today to schedule your free consultation.
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