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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?

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.

Types of Wrongful Death Cases the Firm Handles

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.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits – Types of Damages

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:

  • Medical expenses – It’s common for someone who is wrongfully killed to be admitted to a hospital before that person’s life ends.  These expenses can be enormous.
  • Funeral expenses – Funerals can cost thousands of dollars as well, and many families are not prepared to handle those costs if a person’s death was not foreseeable.
  • Property damage – Some wrongful death cases involve property damage, and these losses can be recovered.
  • Loss of income – A family may be able to recover damages for lost income that includes income the deceased would have earned had he or she lived a full life.
  • Loss of companionship – This form of recovery concerns the loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, moral support, training and guidance.  These are often the greatest harms.
  • Punitive damages – In certain situations, such as when an act that kills someone else is egregious in nature, a plaintiff can pursue and recover punitive damages.  These are not tied to any direct form of loss, but instead are awarded in the interests of justice.

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.

Why the San Diego Wrongful Death Lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys?

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:

  • $106,000,000 wrongful death jury verdict
  • $10,000,000 wrongful death settlement
  • $1,250,000 wrongful death settlement due to DUI driver
  • $7,000,000 wrongful death settlement
  • $6,000,000 wrongful death settlement

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.

What Do You Need to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Number1Award2019To 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.

Who Caused the Incident?

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:

  • 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 a 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’s actions caused your loved one’s death, you may be entitled to compensation for your loved one’s loss.

What Relationship Do You Have to the Deceased?

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:

  • The deceased individual’s children
  • The deceased individual’s parents, if he had no children
  • Close relatives who were dependent on the deceased for financial or physical support
  • The deceased’s estate

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.

What Compensation Can You Request in 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.

Your Loved One’s Suffering

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:

  • Compensation for any medical expenses your loved one faced. Many people find that medical bills cause significant costs after a loved one’s death. High medical costs may be unexpected 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 his or her 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 lived after the incident, the more medical expenses can increase.
  • Compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering. When the injuries from an incident lead to death, your loved one may experience substantial pain before death. As part of your wrongful death claim, you may be able to seek compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering.

Your Loved One’s Financial Contributions

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.

Your Loved One’s Service 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, 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:

  • The cost of childcare. Paying for childcare can be a costly expense. Each year, parents pay an average of over $11,000 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 care. You may also include the cost of after-school care for school-age children who are not old enough to be left 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 meal eaten outside the home costs each family member $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 service costs an average of $167 each time the service comes out to clean. Many services charge more for the initial visit, depending on the condition of the home. Keeping a tidy home can be difficult in the aftermath of 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 costs an average of $21 per hour, with many services requiring a minimum number of hours for each visit. Senior care can grow 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, simple maintenance services may cost 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 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 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 be compensated for the loss of your loved one’s presence in your life. Damages might include:

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

Negotiating a Wrongful Death Claim

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.

San Diego Wrongful Death FAQs

San Diego Wrongful Death LawyersNo 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.

What makes my loved one’s death wrongful in San Diego?

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:

  • Motor vehicle accidents;
  • Boating accidents;
  • Transportation (air and train) accidents;
  • Medical mistakes;
  • Falls and other mishaps on construction sites;
  • Building fires and explosions;
  • Mass shootings and other violent crimes; and
  • Toxic exposures.

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.

What are my rights as the survivor of a San Diego wrongful death victim?

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.

What compensation can I seek in a San Diego wrongful death lawsuit?

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:

  • Loss of the loved one’s income;
  • Costs resulting from the loved one’s death, such as paying for a funeral and burial;
  • Loss of the value of the household services the loved one provided;
  • Loss of gifts or benefits the loved one would have offered;
  • Loss of consortium, if the deceased was the spouse of the plaintiff; and
  • Loss of guidance by or companionship of the loved one.

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:

  • Medical and other expenses related to the accident or injury that caused the loved one’s death;
  • Loss of income before death due to the fatal accident or injury;
  • Punitive or exemplary damages, if any, that a court may choose to award as punishment for the at-fault party’s conduct that caused the loved one’s death.

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.

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, 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:

  • 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 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.

Are there any time limits or deadlines we need to be aware of?

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.

Is a wrongful death lawyer the same as a personal injury lawyer?

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.

How much do your San Diego wrongful death lawyers cost?

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.

When is the right time to hire a San Diego wrongful death lawyer?

As soon as possible.

John Gomez

Wrongful Death Attorney, John Gomez

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.

Can I file more than one San Diego wrongful death claim for the loss of my loved one?

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.

Do You Need a Wrongful Death Attorney in San Diego?

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.

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

655 West Broadway, Suite 1700
San Diego, CA 92101

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