Wrongful Death

Experienced Representation for Fontana Families That Have Suffered From the Wrongful Death of a Loved One

Have you recently lost a loved one because an individual, a company, or even a municipality behaved in ways that were negligent, reckless, or intentionally dangerous? If so, you may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim. If your loved one suffered before they died as a result of their injuries, you may also have grounds to file a so-called “survival action.”

In the wake of a tragic loss, you may be understandably wary of exploring your legal options. Chances are that you’re using all the energy you can muster right now to process your grief and to attend to all the practical challenges that arise after a loved one is lost. However, it’s important to set aside an hour or two of your time to explore your legal options in a free consultation setting. You may not yet be in a position to make big decisions about your legal options and that’s okay. However, the law only allows the surviving loved ones of a wrongful death victim a relatively short window of time to pursue legal action related to their loss. Exploring your legal options now will help to ensure that whenever you’re ready to make decisions regarding your legal situation, your decisions will be informed.

No amount of money can compensate you or your loved ones for the loss you have suffered. However, pursuing any compensation to which you are entitled will help to ensure that your family doesn’t suffer financially as a result of your loved one’s death. Too often, families don’t realize just how financially consequential this life event has become until bills are piling up and they have begun to go into debt. Allow our experienced and compassionate legal team to efficiently and effectively assist you with exploring your legal options to better safeguard your family’s financial future. Know that we will treat you, your family, and the memory of your loved one with the utmost respect, care, and consideration as we evaluate your case and – with your permission – represent your family’s legal interests moving forward.

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Effective Representation for Families of Fatal Injury Victims

Families of wrongful death victims do not need or deserve to be pressured in any way. They need to be given access to information about their rights, options, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of their cases so that they can make informed decisions. That is all.

If you attend a free, confidential, no-risk consultation with our firm, you will not be pressured to commit to any particular course of action. Our team practices at the top of our field not so that we can pressure clients but so that we can inform them and effectively advocate for their legal needs once they’ve made a decision. Our prospective clients and our clients are treated with nothing but respect and consideration by every member of our legal team and support staff. Similarly, the memories of the loved ones lost to injury are treated with nothing but respect and care. Please allow us to help you understand your options so that you can make whatever decision is right for you and your family.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

A wrongful death claim compensates eligible surviving loved ones of an injury victim. This compensation specifically addresses the financial losses incurred by surviving loved ones in the wake of the injury victim’s death. For example, these lawsuits often result in awards for burial costs, medical costs, lost wages, loss of support, etc. These lawsuits do not compensate for the pain and suffering that the injury victim felt after they were injured; these damages must be awarded as part of a survival action. 

Per California Code, Code of Civil Procedure § 377.60, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate and/or any of the following eligible loved ones are legally permitted to file a wrongful death claim: A surviving spouse or domestic partner, a surviving child or children of the deceased, the issue of children who predeceased the injury victim, and minors who are members of the deceased’s household and dependent on the deceased for at least half of their financial support. Rights to file are also extended to other close family members under certain circumstances – including parents of minors who have died as a result of their injuries – that our firm can clarify during your free consultation. 

Does California Allow Loved Ones to File Survival Actions?

Per California Code of Civil Procedure § 377.30, those eligible to file wrongful death actions in the wake of the loss of a loved one are also eligible to file survival actions. When it appropriate to file a survival action, this action is usually filed simultaneously with the wrongful death action in question so that the two issues can be argued together as parts of the same overall case.

Survival actions allow a jury to award financial damages related to the pain and suffering that were felt by an injury victim before they passed away as a result of their injuries. In order to be successful, a survival action must prove that the injured individual was conscious and suffering pain before they succumbed to their injuries. When awarding damages, the jury will take into account how severe the pain was, how long the injured individual was conscious and in pain, and whether they were anticipating their impending death. These actions do not compensate surviving loved ones for their losses but instead attempt to serve justice for the pain and suffering that the fatally injured person felt before they died of their injuries.

Who Can Be Held Legally Liable for My Loved One’s Death?

In order to be successful, your wrongful death case must prove that your loved one died of injuries caused by the actions or inactions of another party. Eligible surviving family members can hold both individuals and other legal entities legally liable in the event that their negligence, recklessness, or intentionally dangerous behavior directly caused (or contributed to the cause of) their loved one’s death. In addition to individual people, common defendants in wrongful death lawsuit include:

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As long as it can be proven that a defendant owed your loved one a duty of care, that duty of care was breached by the defendant’s negligence, recklessness, or intentionally dangerous behavior, your loved one’s injuries resulted directly from that breach, and that your loved one died as a result of their injuries, you can hold that defendant accountable under the law. Note also that in very rare cases, a “strict liability” theory may be applied that eliminates the need to prove that a defendant acted in negligent, reckless, or intentionally dangerous ways before causing (or contributing to the cause of) your loved one’s death.

It is important to note that California is a comparative negligence state. This means that even if your loved one was partially responsible for the circumstances that led to their injuries, you may remain entitled to collect compensation from others who are also partially responsible for the circumstances leading to your loved one’s death. If your loved one is deemed to have been partially responsible for the circumstances that led to their death, you will simply be entitled to less compensation than you would be if your loved one had been blameless in that situation. For example, if the value of your loved one’s wrongful death and survival action claims is set at $500,000 and your loved one is deemed to have been 20 percent responsible for the situation that led to their death, you will remain entitled to hold the others involved responsible for up to $400,000 in compensation.

What Are My Options If My Loved One Died While on the Job?

If your loved one died as a result of fatal work-related injuries or an occupational illness, eligible family members and dependents may be able to collect workers’ compensation death benefits as a result of those circumstances. These benefits are financially significant and are paid out in installments over time. If you are unsure of whether your loved one was eligible for workers’ compensation benefits at the time of their death, let us know so that we can clarify that issue for you. Generally speaking, individuals are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if they are classified as full-time or part-time employees – as opposed to independent contractors, who are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

There are some exceptions to both of these rules, however. Some independent contractors are misclassified and deserve to be treated as employees. If there has been a misclassification error, you may still be able to collect workers’ compensation death benefits even though your loved one was classified as an independent contractor. Additionally, there are some full-time and part-time employees who are not eligible for workers’ compensation coverage because they work within a specialty industry or for a company so small that their coverage requirements are not the same as everyone else’s are.

Workers’ compensation death benefits are available to eligible filers regardless of how a worker sustained injuries while on the job, provided that they weren’t drunk or otherwise impaired at the time the injuries occurred, they weren’t trying to get hurt in order to collect benefits, and they didn’t die as a result of an altercation they started.

Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim if My Loved One Was a Crime Victim?

The American civil justice system and the American criminal justice system are distinct. This means that if your loved one died as a result of another’s criminal wrongdoing, you can hold that individual accountable in civil court regardless of whether they are subjected to consequences as a result of a criminal proceeding. Whether the individual responsible for your loved one’s death is criminally charged, acquitted, convicted, or does not face any charges at all bears no consequence on your ability to hold them liable in civil court. Additionally, it is important to note that standards of proof and liability are much lower in civil cases than they are in criminal cases. As a result, surviving loved ones are more likely to see justice done in a civil context than they are in a criminal one.

Contact Us Today for a Free Wrongful Death Case Evaluation

The idea of exploring your legal options may be overwhelming right now. Know that our experienced attorneys will do everything we can to clarify your rights and options for you while keeping your free consultation setting as low-stress as possible. Please don’t wait until the financial consequences of your loss have become overwhelming to explore your options. By that time, you may be barred from seeking legal recourse by the state’s statute of limitations for wrongful death cases. Instead, meet with our team today so that you can make an informed decision as soon as you are ready to do so. We look forward to speaking with you.