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San Diego Wrongful Death Attorneys

We Obtained the Largest Wrongful Death Verdict in California History: $106,000,000.

What Is Your Case Worth?

Losing a loved one is devastating, no matter how it happens. When the loss occurs unexpectedly because of someone else’s negligence or fault, a new layer of emotional distress is added. Families often find themselves emotionally overwhelmed with grief, sadness, shock, and anger. Amidst all of this, they must also deal with the financial consequences of the loss such as funeral expenses and lost income from the deceased.

At Gomez Trial Attorneys, our San Diego wrongful death lawyers understand that no amount of compensation can ever replace the loss of your loved one. However, you and your family deserve justice. You should not have to bear your grief and financial burdens. While we cannot take away your grief, our attorneys can fight for the money you need to move into the future.

At Gomez Trial Attorneys, our compassionate San Diego wrongful death lawyers stand by you during this difficult time and use our legal tools to ensure you recover as much compensation as possible. We obtained the highest wrongful death verdict in California history: $106,000,000, and our other wrongful death case results include:

  • $20 million wrongful death settlement
  • $10 million wrongful death settlement
  • $7 million wrongful death jury verdict

We cannot guarantee results but can provide a free case evaluation to help determine if you have a San Diego wrongful death case and what it might be worth.

What Qualifies as Wrongful Death in San Diego?

Since San Diego is located in California, California’s wrongful death law applies. A California wrongful death claim is a type of legal claim that can be brought for the death of a close family member that was caused by the careless, reckless, or intentional actions of someone else.

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 wrongful.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in San Diego?

Losing a loved one can cause incredible pain regardless of your relationship. However, the law only allows certain relationships and family members to file a wrongful death claim. California’s wrongful death statute, CCP § 377.60 allows the following survivors to bring a wrongful death claim:

  • Surviving spouse or domestic partner;
  • Children of the deceased;
  • Grandchildren if their parent was the child of the deceased and is also deceased;
  • Putative spouse, children of the putative spouse, stepchildren, parents, if they were reliant on the deceased for financial support;
  • Minor children that lived with the deceased for a long period of time and were reliant on the deceased for financial support; and
  • In certain circumstances, persons would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession.

If you lose a loved one, each family member cannot file their own separate wrongful death claim. Instead, you will list the total losses among all family members in a single claim. If one family member files a claim or accepts a settlement, others cannot seek further compensation. To help prevent confusion, the family should work together to decide how to handle a wrongful death claim.

Multiple wrongful death claims may be brought if multiple responsible parties contributed to the accident; you can file a claim against each of them.

Types of San Diego Wrongful Death Gomez Trial Attorneys Handles

A wrongful death case can arise from any type of accident that results in a fatality, including:

For more than a decade, Gomez Trial Attorneys has stood up for the rights of suffering families as San Diego wrongful death lawyers in all types of wrongful death cases.

Wrongful Death Risks in San Diego

Fatal accidents can occur anywhere. San Diego has many similar risks to other cities, as well as additional fatality risks due to the popularity of water and beach-related activities. San Diego’s fatal accident risks include:

  • E-scooter and e-bike accidents on boardwalks or streets
  • Tourist drivers unfamiliar with the area who make errors on the road
  • Hotel, motel, and Airbnb hazards
  • Drunk drivers or drivers under the influence of marijuana or other substances
  • Injuries at SeaWorld, Legoland, or other theme parks
  • Boat or water sports accidents due to inexperienced drivers and participants
  • Dangerous conditions in or around swimming pools
  • Amazon or other delivery truck accidents
  • Injuries at Pechanga Arena

No matter how a fatal accident happens, it is a devastating tragedy, and families should learn about their rights to possible compensation from a San Diego wrongful death attorney.

What Compensation Can You Recover in a San Diego Wrongful Death Case?

Few, if any, types of cases involve more actual financial loss than wrongful death cases. A wrongful death claim is designed to compensate the family for their loss. Compensable wrongful death damages are generally divided into two major categories, economic damages, and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are damages for losses whose dollar amount can be objectively determined.

Some examples of economic damages you may pursue and recover in a wrongful death action:

  • Medical expenses. It’s common for a hospital to admit someone who later dies from accident injuries. These expenses can be enormous.
  • Funeral expenses. Funerals can cost thousands of dollars, and many families cannot handle those costs alone.
  • Property damage. Some wrongful death cases involve property damage, which plaintiffs can recover.
  • Loss of income. A family may recover damages for lost income that includes income the deceased would have earned had he or she lived a full life.
  • Lost household Services. A family may recover the reasonable value of household services that the deceased would have provided.

Non-economic damages are losses that it is impossible to objectively value. These are often the greatest harms. Some examples of economic damages you may pursue and recover in a wrongful death action:

  • Loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support.
  • Loss of enjoyment of sexual relations.
  • Loss of decedent’s training and guidance.

One other type of damages is punitive damages, which are available in cases where your loved one was intentionally killed. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer.

In some cases involving the death of a loved one, other types of claims such as survival damages can also be pursued in addition to the wrongful death claim. Due to the complexity of cases involving death, it is important to consult with an experienced San Diego wrongful death lawyer that can help you assess your case and determine what damages are available.

How to Successfully Bring a San Diego Wrongful Death ClaimSan Diego Wrongful Death Attorney

You will need to prove the following to prevail on a negligence-based wrongful death claim. Several factors contribute to whether you have grounds to file a wrongful death claim, your likelihood of success, and the amounts you can recover.

#1. Someone Else was at Fault for the Death

To file a wrongful death lawsuit in San Diego, you must have lost a family member due to someone else’s negligent, reckless, intentional, or other wrongful conduct. Most cases are based on negligence. To file a wrongful death claim based on negligence, you will need to prove:

  • That the other party owed the decedent a duty of care.
  • They failed to provide that duty of care.
  • This failure to exercise the appropriate duty of care led to your loved one’s death.
  • You suffered damages as a result of the 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 your loved one to fall and ultimately led to their death, you may file a wrongful death 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:

  • Who bore a duty of care to your loved one in this scenario? On the roadways, every driver owes a duty to other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle riders.
  • How did that individual violate their duty of care? In an auto accident, a driver who chose to drive recklessly, leading to an accident, violated their duty of care.
  • Did the violation lead to your loved one’s death? Evidence of neglect in a nursing home did not cause death if your loved one died of an unpreventable medical condition. On the other hand, neglect that directly causes your loved one’s death may form the basis of a wrongful death claim. If another person’s actions caused your loved one’s death, you might have the right to compensation for your loved one’s loss.

An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you analyze who is at fault.

#2. You Had the Proper Relationship with the Loved One

As discussed above, California’s wrongful death law, CCP § 377.60, limits who can bring a wrongful death claim to certain close family members. The surviving spouse and children are the most common persons to bring wrongful death claims.

#3. Your Loved One’s Suffering

To file a wrongful death claim, the decedent need not have died immediately at the accident scene. Often, your loved one may survive for days or even weeks before succumbing to their injuries.

In these circumstances, your family may also seek:

  • Compensation for your loved one’s medical expenses. Many people find that medical bills cause significant costs after a loved one’s death. You might not expect high medical expenses if your loved one did not live long after the accident. At the hospital, however, your loved one may receive extensive treatment to attempt to preserve their life. Treatment may include X-rays, scans, surgeries, and consultations with several different doctors. A single day in a life support unit can cost between $2,000 and $4,000. The longer your loved one lives after the incident, the more medical expenses can increase.
  • Compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering. Before their death, your loved one may experience substantial pain from their injuries. As part of your wrongful death claim, you may seek compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering.

#4. The Lost Financial Contributions of Your Loved One

When you lose your family’s primary breadwinner, you may struggle to handle your financial obligations. This financial loss can affect your family greatly, especially 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.

#5. Your Loved One’s Other Contributions to the Family

In addition to their income, most individuals provide a wide range of services to their family members. As part of your wrongful death claim, our San Diego wrongful death lawyers will work with you to determine what services your loved one provided. We can help you predict how much it will cost to replace those services after their loss.

Some service contributions that you may receive compensation for include:

  • Childcare. Paying for childcare can be a costly expense. Parents pay an average of over $11,000 per year to place a single child in daycare. If you have multiple children or live in a high-cost area, you may pay even more for adequate childcare. You may also include the cost of after-school care for school-age children who are not old enough to be unattended.
  • Providing meals for the family. Cooking for a family can take an hour or more per night. When you find yourself alone, you may have to purchase meals from a restaurant to provide food for your family. The average for each family member is $12.75. If you have a large family or eat out frequently, the costs of feeding your family can add up quickly.
  • Cleaning the home. Housekeeping services in San Diego are not cheap. It costs an average of $167 each time a service comes out to clean. Many services charge more for the initial visit, depending on the home’s condition. Keeping a tidy home can be difficult after your loved one’s death. Household cleaning services can create substantial expenses for your family.
  • Caring for an elderly family member. Did your deceased loved one provide care for an aging family member? In-home care in San Diego costs an average of $21 per hour, with many services requiring a minimum number of hours for each visit. Senior care can become extremely costly for the family, especially for individuals who require round-the-clock care.
  • Home and yard maintenance. Depending on the size of the yard, the cost is between $49 and $129 per visit. Taking care of bigger tasks, from cleaning out the gutters to trimming shrubs, can cost even more.

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 another’s negligence takes a loved one from you, you and your family deserve to maintain the quality of life you enjoyed before the loss of a loved one.

#6. Loss of Your Loved One’s Presence

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 recover compensation for the loss of your loved one’s presence in your life.

Damages might include:

  • Loss of companionship and sexual relations for a spouse
  • Loss of guidance and wisdom for a child
  • Loss of care in old age for an adult parent of a child

San Diego Wrongful Death Lawyer FAQ

Is a Wrongful Death Lawyer the Same as a Personal Injury Lawyer?

It depends. Wrongful death cases are a specific type of personal injury case, but not every personal injury attorney is a wrongful death lawyer. 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 wrongful death may face separate criminal liability, and 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.

When hiring a San Diego wrongful death lawyer, ensure that the attorney you hire has wrongful death case experience (and case results), not just general personal injury experience. After 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.

How Much Does a San Diego Wrongful Death Lawyer Cost?

Nothing up front. Most San Diego wrongful death lawyers, including Gomez Trial Attorneys, 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. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we represent our clients on a contingent fee basis. Instead of charging clients an upfront retainer or billing them by the hour, our wrongful death lawyers work in exchange for a percentage of any compensation secured on our client’s behalf.

By representing families grieving the loss of a loved one on contingency, our San Diego wrongful death lawyers make our services available to all who need them, giving families access to justice no matter their financial circumstances.

When Should I Hire a San Diego Wrongful Death Lawyer?

The short answer to this question is 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 at Gomez Trial Attorneys aims to protect grieving spouses and families during a difficult time. We 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 one of our attorneys quickly, families give themselves the strongest protection against parties who might try to take advantage of their difficult circumstances.

For example, sometimes insurance companies that know 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.

Is There a Statute of Limitations on a Wrongful Death Suit in San Diego?

Yes. California law generally limits you to two years from 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. Other exceptions can shorten the statute of limitations, such as if the claim is against a government agency, then you must file within six months.

Failing to take action within these time limits 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 San Diego wrongful death attorney at Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as you can after your loved one’s death.

What Are My Rights as a Family Member in a San Diego Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Can a family member sue for wrongful death in San Diego? Yes, close family members can bring a wrongful death lawsuit in San Diego.

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 may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the victim left behind multiple individuals fitting that description, you 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 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 from Gomez Trial Attorneys can advise survivors like you on deciding whether, when, and how to file a lawsuit arising from a loved one’s death.

What If My Loved One Died in a Work Accident in San Diego?

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 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:

  • Up to $10,000 for funeral and burial expenses; and
  • At least $250,000 in wage-replacement benefits, adjusted upwards based on the deceased worker’s number of dependents.

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 state 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.

John Gomez

Wrongful Death Attorney, John Gomez

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 at Gomez Trial Attorneys to learn more about your rights if your loved one died in an accident at work.

Do You Need a San Diego Wrongful Death Lawyer?

If you a looking for a San Diego wrongful death law firm, Gomez Trial Attorneys is here for you. Working through a sudden death of a loved one is more than enough to have to attempt to handle. Let an experienced and compassionate San Diego wrongful death attorney handle the legal issues and burdens for you.

Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys at 866-TRIAL LAW (866-874-2552) today for your free wrongful death case evaluation.

Injured in an accident? Get a real trial lawyer. Get Gomez.


655 West Broadway, Suite 1700
San Diego, CA 92101

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