San Diego Wrongful Death Lawyers
Last Modified: January 27, 2014 at 11:15 pm
The right to live one’s life until its termination from natural causes is a basic human right. For most of us, that means we expect to live into our seventies of eighties. When a life is cut short unnaturally, because of another person or entity’s wrong-doing, whether it is a reckless, careless, or otherwise negligent act or omission or a deliberately harmful act, it is termed a wrongful death and in many cases entitles certain surviving family members of the deceased person, as set forth in California’s Wrongful Death Statute, to recover financial compensation by filing a civil lawsuit with the help of a San Diego wrongful death attorney.
Common causes of wrongful death include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Slip and fall, fires, and other premises accidents
- Negligent security, or negligent supervision
- Work-related accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Acts of violence
- Medical malpractice
Unintentional Injury and Wrongful Death Statistics
According to the CDC, unintentional injury led to nearly 121,000 deaths in the United Stats in 2010, of which:
- 26,009 were from unintentional falls
- 33,687 were from motor vehicle accidents
- 33,041 were unintentional poisoning deaths
No one believes that there is any amount of money that can sufficiently compensate a grieving family for the life of a loved one taken from them too soon. But making a claim against the person responsible for your loss is important for several reasons:
- It can help relieve the financial burden of a family trying to cope with the loss of their primary breadwinner.
- It can pay for the deceased’s final medical expenses and funeral expenses.
- It can help the healing process by holding the person whose wrongdoing caused the accountable for the loss, for the family’s financial losses as well the loss of companionship, guidance, and services.
- Knowing they will be held to account may possibly prevent the person who caused the death and others from exhibiting the type of wrongful behavior in the future, thereby saving lives, for example if the death was caused by drunk driving, speeding, or other avoidable type of accident.
Recoverable Wrongful Death Damages
Under California law, there are two distinct causes of action: a wrongful death action deals with the losses of the individual survivors, while and associated survival action is an action brought by a personal representative on behalf of the estate of the deceased, claiming recovery for damages that would have been recoverable if the victim had survived, and also incorporates any punitive damages. The recovery in a survival action is distributed among heirs as a part of the estate and may include medical expenses or funeral expenses, associated with the death. Oddly, the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased prior to death are not allowed.
Compensatory damages are an amount of money intended to compensate surviving family members for the loss of the income and support that the deceased provided for each survivor along with non-economic losses, such as loss of love, companionship, protection and guidance, loss of marital consortium, and others.
Punitive damages, payable to the estate in the survival action, serve the purpose of punishing the responsible party for the negligent act, to discourage repetition. Punitive damages are more likely to be awarded when the defendant is a corporation that was aware of a dangerous situation and chose to ignore it.
The Importance of Top-notch Legal Representation
A detailed investigation will be necessary to verify the facts surrounding the cause of death in order to determine who the liable parties are and to place a monetary value on the claim; for this and other reasons, you will vastly improve the likelihood of success in a wrongful death action when you obtain the services of an attorney who regularly handles wrongful death actions, preferably one who limits the scope of his or her practice to personal injury and wrongful death matters.
There are many steps that must be taken care of in a limited amount of time, because California law places strict time limits filing wrongful death actions. As a newly bereaved person, you may not feel ready to take on the many tasks involved in pursuing a recovery on your own. In addition to the investigation, a personal representative must be appointed to bring the action on behalf of the survivors, damages must be proven, and the insurance company must be handled.
You will need to provide evidence of the deceased person’s earnings and total income. Your attorney will compute a projected income value to determine how much the deceased would earn for the remained of his or her natural life, compensation for medical bills and funeral expenses, and any claim being made for loss of consortium. This requires an experienced professional if you are to achieve a fair outcome.
Why You Need to Avoid Interacting with Insurance Company Representatives
When you’ve lost a family member in an accident, your family can usually expect to receive a call from a representative of the insurance company of the party alleged to have committed the negligence. In no circumstances should the survivors enter into any agreement or sign any papers without contacting an experienced wrongful death attorney.
The insurance companies are very familiar with the monetary value of a wrongful death claim, which the family of the decease is probably not, and they will often offer a low settlement in exchange for a signed release, hoping to avoid paying what the case is worth.
The Right Lawyer for Your Family’s Wrongful Death Action
When deciding on an attorney to represent you, ask about the lawyer’s experience in wrongful death and survival actions. Ask about recoveries the lawyer has obtained for clients in similar cases. Ask how often the attorney settles cases out of court and how often the cases go to trial. Insurance companies are very aware of the attorneys who are willing to try a case when necessary, and will often offer a more appropriate out-of-court settlement, rather than taking on the expense and uncertainty of a jury trial.
Skilled and Experienced San Diego Wrongful Death Attorneys
For compassionate, skilled, and experienced legal assistance in your family’s wrongful death case, contact the law offices of attorney Howard Kitay in San Diego. With more than twenty years assisting Californians who have been injured and bereaved because of someone’s negligence and a long and verifiable record of substantial recoveries, the San Diego wrongful death attorneys at the Kitay Law Firm will provide you with unsurpassed legal representation. The initial case analysis is always free, and you will owe no legal fees or expenses until you receive an award. Legal time restrictions apply, so we invite you to call us today.