Solana Beach Wrongful Death Attorney
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Solana Beach Wrongful Death Attorneys
When an Accident Results in Loss
Accidents and Sudden Loss of Loved Ones
Everyone has a right to reach their destinations, to seek medical treatment, and to report to work without experiencing life-ending injuries. When someone is negligent in the death of another person, it generally means that the negligent individual failed to exercise due care. The failure to use care around others is a form of negligence that demands accountability.
Fatal accidents happen in a second, leaving a void in your life forever. Here are just a few examples of how a loved one may die from serious injuries—either instantly or after transport to a medical facility:
The California Department of Highway Safety reports that approximately 3,582 people died in traffic accidents during one recent year. Solana Beach sees as few as 21 and many as 75 injury collisions every year.
Traffic accidents that result from negligence typically involve one or more of the following types of negligent behaviors:
Distracted driving – According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are three main forms of distraction:
- Visual, which takes your eyes off the road.
- Manual, which takes your hands off the wheel.
- Cognitive, which takes your mind off driving.
Texting behind the wheel involves all three forms of distraction, according to the CDC. Research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that people who text while driving are up to eight more times likely to crash. The CDC estimates that approximately 9 people die each day due to crashes involving distracted drivers. If a distracted driver caused an accident that led to your loved one’s death, a member of our team can review your case for free.
Drunk driving – Drunk driving continues to plague Solana Beach’s highways and city streets as people take chances after drinking. We’ve seen as many as 57 DUI arrests in Solana Beach in one year and as many as 14 alcohol-related collisions—and maybe that doesn’t seem like much till you realize we live in a city of only about 13,000 persons.
The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 percent is the legal limit in California for most drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), impairment can begin at a level as low as 0.02 percent, depending upon a person’s body weight.
Underage drinking and driving is another form of drunk driving that can kill. The California Zero Tolerance Law strives to discourage underage drinking with stiff penalties and a BAC level of 0.01 percent or higher to be applied to those under the age of 21. In 2018 NHTSA reported that there was approximately one fatality every 58 minutes, and more than 10,000 people died as the result of a drunk driver in the same year. If the driver who killed your loved one was drunk—or under the influence of illegal substances—contact Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible to learn if you have a wrongful death case.
Aggressive driving – Short tempers and busy schedules can lead to aggressive driving, which in turn, can escalate into road rage.
AAA lists the following types of driving behaviors as examples of aggressive driving:
- Changing lanes without signaling
- Running red lights
Statistics from AAA show that red-light running is at a 10-year high. More than two people are killed every day in the United States by drivers racing through an intersection on a red light. Approximately half of those killed are passengers or people in other vehicles.
Aggressive driving can evolve into road rage. This particularly aggressive form of driving can involve dangerous behaviors like deliberately running a vehicle off the road. If this is the tragic way your loved one died, take action to hold the responsible person accountable for your loss.
Drowsy driving – Busy schedules and undiagnosed sleeping disorders can lead to dozing off behind the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 700 people died as a result of drowsy driving in 2017. The true number of deaths caused by drowsy driving is not known due to the fact it is often underreported in crash data.
No matter what caused a driver to crash into and kill your loved one, your unexpected loss is not fair. When your loved one did not return home due to a driver who abused the privilege of a California driver’s license, it is time to contact a Solana Beach wrongful death lawyer.
Serious medical mistakes and intentional acts are two additional ways that you can lose a loved one due to the careless and/or dangerous actions of another person.
Intentional acts – An intentional act that results in the death of your loved one may qualify you for a wrongful death lawsuit. Pursuing civil action for your loss is a separate matter from any criminal charges or case. Whether your loved one died suddenly due to intentional violence or died later as a result of his or her injuries, you may have a civil case. Any possible compensation will not replace your loved one. It can, perhaps, ease the financial stress caused by the loss of your loved one.
These are just a few examples of the tragic ways in which you can lose a loved one due to negligence. Losing a loved one due to nursing home neglect or abuse is another example of how a loved one can die at the hands of another person. Wrongful death law is often challenging, always emotional, and certainly confusing for someone without legal knowledge. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we understand what a trying time this is for you and your family.
We treat our clients with the same type of care we would expect in a similar situation—with compassion, empathy, and respect. Our team firmly believes in keeping the lines of communication open by welcoming questions and providing case updates. If you lost a close loved one due to the careless actions of another person, we may be able to provide legal representation for you. We take the burden of your civil case off your shoulders and take the lead in your fight for justice. To learn more about how we can help you, call Gomez Trial Attorneys now for a free case evaluation.
The Basics of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
There are essential facts when it comes to filing a wrongful death lawsuit in California.
One of the most important factors is who may file such a lawsuit. California law generally allows for the following family members to file wrongful death cases:
- Surviving spouse.
- Domestic partner.
This is just a quick summary of the more common types of family members who pursue compensation. If you are unsure if your relationship to the victim qualifies you for a wrongful death lawsuit, a member of our team can help you.
Another important factor for a wrongful death lawsuit is the statute of limitations. You must meet this deadline to preserve your rights to make a claim, so contact an attorney as soon as possible. If you miss filing your case on time, you may miss your opportunity for possible compensation forever. Contacting a Solana Beach wrongful death lawyer is the recommended path to ensure you meet all court deadlines.
How to Help Your Solana Beach Wrongful Death Case
Protecting your pursuit of possible compensation means being mindful of insurance companies. Filing a claim is often a common first step that leads to negotiations for a fair settlement. If negotiations are unsuccessful, we go to trial.
Insurance companies are often large corporations that want to protect their best interests. An initial settlement offer from them may delight you, and you may feel tempted to accept it. During this time of immense grief, you are most vulnerable to making the wrong decision when it comes to a settlement.
You can help your wrongful death case by hiring Gomez Trial Attorneys and referring insurance companies to your lawyer. Do not discuss your case with anyone from the insurance company and do not sign any documents. A lawyer from our team can protect your best interests by handling negotiations on your behalf.
The amount the insurance company offered is most likely the least amount possible. Seeking fair compensation is vital to settling your loved one’s estate and for moving forward after his or her death. Protect your right to fair compensation by securing legal representation today.
Recovering Damages in a Solana Beach Wrongful Death
Each wrongful death case is different and the outcome differs depending upon the circumstances involving your loved one’s death.
Types of damages typically awarded in wrongful death cases include:
- Reimbursement for your loved one’s final medical expenses.
- The costs associated with a funeral and burial.
- The loss of income.
- The loss of potential future earnings.
- The loss of inheritance.
- The loss of companionship.
Some damages are easier to monetize than others. Medical costs, for example, are economic damages with finite costs. A loss of companionship is a noneconomic cost that is monetized. Your loved one was most likely priceless to you and converting that into an actual cost is where we can help you.
At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we thrive in a courtroom environment. If we cannot settle your case out of court, we are ready to go to trial. Our team will not stop until we reach the best possible outcome for your case. Your loved one would most likely still be here with you if it was not for the negligent actions of another person. If someone failed to use care behind the wheel, in a medical setting, or other dangerous situation, contact us today for a free case evaluation.
Injured in an accident? Get a real trial lawyer. Get Gomez.
Solana Beach Wrongful Death FAQ
If you have suddenly lost a loved one, you and your family are going through a difficult time. Some days, your grief might overwhelm you, making it difficult for you to function. Other days, you might feel anger, especially when you know the death of your loved one was preventable. Losing a loved one due to intentional harm or negligence adds more emotional suffering to the grief families already experience with such a tragic loss.
Making matters worse, the loss of a loved one also leads to financial hardship for some families, especially if the deceased provided most of the household income. Fortunately, California law permits eligible family members to take legal action when a wrongful death occurs.
If you are unsure about your next steps after losing a loved one, you need to contact an experienced Solana Beach wrongful death lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys. We can review your case and advise the best path forward for you and your family. Until you have the opportunity to consult with an attorney, this guide offers answers to some questions you might have about wrongful death claims in Solana Beach.
What constitutes a wrongful death in Solana Beach?
Not all sudden and tragic deaths qualify as wrongful death. A wrongful death happens when someone dies from willful harm or negligence. Under California law, eligible family members can bring a lawsuit against the allegedly responsible individual, company, government entity, or another party. Courts and lawyers refer to these lawsuits as wrongful death actions or wrongful death claims. Families who prevail in these claims receive compensation for the loss of their loved ones.
What events lead to wrongful deaths in Solana Beach?
Many dangerous scenarios cause fatalities and give rise to a wrongful death action.
Some examples of events commonly associated with wrongful death lawsuits include:
- Traffic collisions including car, truck, and motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle, pedestrian, and scooter accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Toxic chemical exposure
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Drug overdoses
- Slip and fall accidents
- Defective product accidents and injuries
- Criminal acts including assault and domestic violence
What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in Solana Beach?
Under California’s Code of Civil Procedure, eligible family members have two years to bring a lawsuit against those who allegedly cause the death of their loved one. However, if you are taking legal action against the city of Solana Beach or the state of California, you only have six months to file a wrongful death claim. Minor children who lose one or both parents due to wrongful death have an extended statute of limitations because the law does not expect them to take action while underage. The two-year time limit begins on their 18th birthday. Different time limits can apply to different wrongful death scenarios.
It’s in your best interest to contact our wrongful death attorneys as soon as possible to ensure you do not miss any applicable deadlines. California courts must comply with the statutes of limitations and typically do not hear a case once the time limit has expired, making it imperative that you take action sooner than later. If you fail to bring the lawsuit within the statute of limitations period, you will likely lose the opportunity to recover losses related to your family member’s death.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Solana Beach?
Under California law, only specific family members have the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit after losing a loved one.
- Surviving spouse
- Surviving domestic partner
- Surviving children
- If there are no spouses, partners, or children, parents, siblings, and other blood relatives
If the deceased family member financially supported their parents or stepchildren, they also have the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. California allows eligible family members to directly sue the allegedly at-fault party for wrongful death. However, a representative of the estate of the deceased can also bring a wrongful death action on behalf of one or more family members.
Does California require autopsies for wrongful death claims?
California does not require you to approve an autopsy to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against an allegedly liable individual, business, or another entity. However, your attorney will likely advise you to consent to an autopsy of your loved one’s body. Autopsies serve as valuable evidence for wrongful death actions because they typically provide a conclusive cause and time of death, helping establish financial liability for your loss.
If the cause of death is clear, you might not need an autopsy. Yet, in cases involving defective medical devices, autopsies are almost always necessary to establish causation and liability.
How long before my Solana Beach wrongful death case resolves?
It’s impossible to provide an exact timeframe for resolving your wrongful death claim. Each case is different and a wide range of factors impact the time needed for settlement or litigation.
Some considerations that affect how long you will have to wait for a resolution include:
- Establishing fault. One of the largest issues that impacts the timeline of a wrongful death case is determining fault. Depending on the circumstances of a claim, multiple parties can be involved and make it more difficult to determine who might be liable for wrongful death. Additionally, insurance companies want to avoid financial liability, so they will go the extra mile to deny claims and shift fault to the deceased. Disputes over liability typically require the case to go to trial, which adds months, sometimes years, to the timeline of a wrongful death claim. Litigation not only requires additional preparation, but lawyers must coordinate witness schedules, too.
- Insurance policy limits. The higher the insurance policy limits, the harder insurance companies fight to avoid financial responsibility. This leads to more paperwork, more depositions, longer negotiations, and sometimes litigation. Policy limits vary greatly depending on the type of insurance involved in the case. Business policies and homeowners’ policies are often larger than auto insurance limits. Regardless of the type, insurance companies will fight to avoid paying the maximum policy limit amount.
- Lowball settlement offers. Insurance companies do not stay in business by paying every claim that comes their way. Sometimes they simply deny claims. In other cases, they know their policyholder’s negligence led to wrongful death. They fear having to make a large settlement payout or pay a large jury verdict, so they make an early lowball settlement offer. Families who have lost a significant portion of household income because of the death of a loved one sometimes feel pressure to settle, but their attorney knows this offer is only the beginning. In many cases, your lawyer can negotiate a higher settlement from the insurance company, but negotiations take time. Reaching an agreeable settlement can add months or years to the length of how long it takes to resolve your wrongful death claim.
What damages do Solana Beach courts award in wrongful death cases?
Surviving family members who bring a wrongful death suit in Solana Beach could receive compensation for the following damages related to the loss of their loved one:
- Lost service and support from the deceased
- Loss of companionship and loss of protection for widow/widower
- Loss of companionship for minor children
- Loss of parental guidance and instruction for minor children
- Compensation for paid medical bills until the time of death, including bills for ambulance service, emergency room visit, surgery, aftercare, and medication
- Compensation for funeral expenses and burial costs
Do Solana Beach courts award punitive damages in wrongful death cases?
When families lose a loved one due to wrongful death, California law gives them the right to take two routes to recover damages related to their loss. Typically, families file a wrongful death claim in conjunction with a survival claim. California courts do not award punitive damages in wrongful death actions, but compensation for survival actions sometimes includes punitive damages.
You can think of a survival claim as a lawsuit that seeks compensation for losses your loved one could have sued for if he or she did not die from fatal injuries. A personal representative of the estate of the deceased brings a survival claim on behalf of your loved one. Survival claims deal with the losses and damages between the time of injury and the time of death. Representatives cannot bring survival claims when someone dies immediately from a fatal injury.
If the estate prevails in a survival action, the court could award:
- Compensation for unpaid medical treatment costs from the date of injury to the date of death
- Lost wages and benefits from the date of injury to the date of death
- Punitive damages if your loved one’s wrongful death resulted from fraud, malice, or gross negligence
Why do I have to bring a Solana Beach wrongful death suit if the allegedly at-fault person was criminally charged?
Criminal prosecution and civil actions, like wrongful death lawsuits, are two completely different legal processes with separate outcomes. A jury decides guilt for a crime in a criminal case and must be certain beyond a reasonable doubt. The State of California brings charges against the person. A conviction has many potential consequences, including jail time, fines, community service, and other court-mandated things. You may testify in a criminal case, but you will not receive compensation.
In a civil action, a jury decides if the defendant is responsible for your loved one’s death based on a preponderance of the evidence, which is a lower standard of proof than beyond a reasonable doubt. A verdict in favor of the plaintiff in a civil case means the defendant is financially responsible for damages related to your loved one’s wrongful death. Both legal processes are a form of justice, but they serve two different purposes.
What do I need to prove to prevail in a Solana Beach wrongful death claim?
Not all fatal injuries are a result of a wrongful act. To win your wrongful death case:
- You must show proof that your loved one has died, which typically involves providing the official death certificate.
- You must show proof that you have suffered harm due to the loss of your loved one. In a wrongful death case, harm refers to economic losses such as lost household income and non-economic losses, such as the emotional distress and overwhelming grief that comes with a loved one’s death.
- You must show causation. Specifically, you must show the intentional harm or negligence of a person, business, or another entity, led to the death of your loved one.
Our Solana Beach wrongful death lawyers can help you do all of the above.
How do I know if I have a valid Solana Beach wrongful death case?
When abuse, assault, or violence leads to the death of a loved one, you likely have a viable wrongful death claim. In other cases, your attorney needs to review the facts of your case to determine your eligibility to file a wrongful death claim. Traffic collisions, workplace accidents, and other situations that lead to death are not always clearly wrongful death. Your attorney will evaluate your case and decide if they can prove the elements listed above. If the elements are there, it’s likely your attorney will advise you that you have a viable wrongful death claim.
Can I afford a Solana Beach wrongful death lawyer from Gomez Trial Attorneys?
Yes, you can afford to hire our wrongful death attorneys when your loved one has died due to someone else’s negligence.
Our Solana Beach wrongful death law firm offers free case evaluations for potential clients to discuss the circumstances of their loved one’s death. If you have a viable wrongful death claim and choose to hire a lawyer, you do not have to pay out-of-pocket for legal counsel.
Our Solana Beach wrongful death law firm also takes cases on a contingent fee basis. Instead of paying an upfront retainer, you agree to let your lawyer deduct attorney fees from any compensation he or she secures for you in a settlement or jury award.
Get Help From Gomez Trial Attorneys’s Solana Beach Wrongful Death Lawyers Now
Time is a precious commodity when it comes to civil cases. The moment when your loved one dies is the moment the statute of limitations begins for your civil action.
At Gomez Trial Attorneys, our Solana Beach personal injury lawyers can carefully review all evidence associated with your case. Preparing for firm negotiations and a possible trial takes time. Collecting police and medical reports, reviewing photos and videos, and interviewing witnesses are just a part of what we do.
We understand that the financial stress you feel from the loss of income grows each passing day. The cost of a funeral alone can reach into the thousands of dollars—an expense that many people have not planned for. A phone call or knock at your door informing you of the death of your loved one changes your life. Processing the news, informing others, and planning a funeral or memorial service can be overwhelming. Learning your loved one’s death was most likely preventable is especially upsetting.
If this happened to you, a Solana Beach wrongful death lawyer from Gomez Trial Attorneys stands ready to help you. We understand California law and how it applies to cases involving wrongful death. We investigate what caused your loved one’s death, and we identify those liable for your loss.
Let us handle the insurance companies so that you can better focus on remembering your loved one. Call us for your free case evaluation at (619) 237-3490, or contact us online now to discuss your legal options.
Gomez Trial Attorneys
603 N. Highway 101
Solana Beach, CA 92075
Phone: (858) 400-4333
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