Wrongful Death

Moreno Valley Wrongful Death Lawyer

There is no amount of compensation that could possibly “make up” for a devastating loss. As a result, it often seems absurd to suggest that surviving family members of those whose lives have been lost to preventable injury should explore their legal options in the interests of securing any compensation to which they may be entitled. Family members may be motivated to explore their legal options in the interest of seeing justice done. However, it is undeniably – and understandably – difficult to appeal to a surviving loved one’s need for financial justice in the wake of a loss, because there is simply no amount of money that can begin to make a family’s loss “whole” as the law aims to do via the personal injury claims process.

With that said, it is important to understand that financial burdens, including medical bills, burial and funeral costs, lost wages and earning potential, loss of support, etc. can begin to affect the surviving members of a family very rapidly in the wake of losing a loved one. This is why, as difficult and – frankly, absurd – as it can seem to concern yourself with financial and legal issues while you’re newly grieving, it is important to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with experienced legal professionals if your loved one was lost (at least, in part) due to the negligent, reckless, or intentionally dangerous conduct of another. The law gives you some time to process your legal options before you must commit to a plan of action or be forever barred from obtaining any compensation to which you are due. However, it’s important to begin the process of becoming informed about your options now, as some opportunities for legal recourse are more time-sensitive than others.

Respected Legal Advocates for Families of Injury Victims

Our firm has extensive experience representing the interests of catastrophically injured individuals and the surviving loved ones of fatal accident victims. There is no privilege that we take more seriously than the opportunity to serve those who have been forever affected by injuries caused by another’s negligent, reckless, or intentionally dangerous conduct.

Our firm has developed a reputation for knowledgeable, compassionate, client-focused, and effective representation of these clients, although it is not a reputation that we take for granted. If you choose to attend a risk-free, no-cost consultation with our team, we’ll answer your questions, clarify your legal options, and help to ensure that you can make informed decisions about your legal options moving forward. We’ll also speak with you about what you can expect from our approach to representation and why this time-tested approach is respected and trusted by so many within our community. Investing an hour or two of your time in a consultation setting now may help your family in significant ways down the road. Please contact our firm today to learn more.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

The loss of a human life is not comparable to any amount of compensation. Filing a wrongful death claim is not meant to “make up for” the loss you have suffered. Instead, seeking wrongful death compensation allows qualifying loved ones to minimize the financial losses incurred as a result of their loved one’s death. This is why wrongful death awards often include compensation for funeral and burial costs, lost future earnings, loss of financial support, and other “tangible” compensation types.

In order to be successful, a wrongful death claim must prove the same kinds of fundamental truths that a successful personal injury case would. This is because wrongful death claims are filed under the assumption that the deceased could have filed a successful personal injury claim on their own behalf, had they not died as a result of their injuries. Thus, to succeed, our team will need to prove that those responsible (in part or totally) for your loved one’s death owed the deceased a duty of care under the law, and directly contributed to the deceased’s fatal injuries as a result of their negligent, reckless, or intentionally dangerous actions or inactions.

Wrongful Death Filing Eligibility in California

Generally speaking, in California, the following parties are eligible to file wrongful death claims:

  • A surviving spouse or domestic partner
  • A personal representative of the deceased’s estate
  • The deceased’s surviving children
  • The “issue” of any of the deceased’s children who predeceased the deceased individual in question
  • Other qualifying dependents of the deceased, including eligible minors unrelated to the deceased but who relied on the deceased for financial support
  • The parents or legal guardians of deceased minors and other injury victims under particular circumstances

Under rare circumstances, other loved ones may be eligible to file wrongful death claims. If you are hoping to file a claim and do not “fit” into one of the eligibility categories noted above, please raise your concerns with our experienced legal team so that we can provide you with necessary guidance and support.

When Filing a Survival Action Is Appropriate

If your loved one did not die instantly as a result of their injuries, anyone eligible to file a wrongful death action may opt to file a survival action simultaneously. Wrongful death and survival actions are filed simultaneously so that they can be treated as two halves of a broader, single case. This saves time, money, and resources that would be lost if the two actions were argued separately.

A survival action allows surviving loved ones to receive compensation related to the conscious pain and suffering that their loved one experienced as a result of their injuries before they succumbed to those injuries. When determining how much compensation to award, juries are instructed to consider the degree of pain that the deceased was in, how long they were conscious and in pain, whether they were experiencing fear related to impending death, and how long the deceased was subjected to suffering before they died as a result of their injuries.

Concerns Related to Causation and Fault

Do not refrain from exploring your legal options if your loved one may have been partially – or even totally – at fault for the circumstances that led to their injuries. California protects the rights of injury victims broadly. Workers’ compensation benefits are based on a no-fault system. Therefore, if your loved one passed away due to work-related injuries, you may be eligible to claim workers’ compensation death benefits as long as the work-related harm didn’t result from an accident that occurred while your loved one was drunk, high, starting a fight, or hurting themselves on purpose.

While fault does matter in re: the personal injury claims process, California’s comparative negligence system means that even if your loved one was partially to blame for their harm, you may file a wrongful death action against others who were also partially at fault. As long as someone other than your loved one behaved in ways that were negligent, reckless, or intentionally dangerous and that conduct served as a significant factor in the cause of your loved one’s injuries, you may remain entitled to seek compensation against that responsible party.  

Unique Options for Loved Ones Lost Due to Work-Related Harm

If your loved one died due to unsafe working conditions, toxic exposure, or any other work-related harm, you may be eligible to file for workers’ compensation death benefits. These significant financial payouts are made in installments over time. However, not everyone who dies as a result of work-related harm is eligible to collect these benefits. Only qualified dependents – and others who relied on the deceased for financial support – are eligible to file for these benefits.

If you are a qualifying loved one, you may work with our firm to file for these benefits, provided that your loved one was eligible for workers’ compensation coverage at the time of their injuries and their injuries resulted directly from work-related harm. If you’re unsure of what your loved one’s employment status was at the time that they were injured, we can help you seek the answer to that question. Chances are good that your loved one was eligible for coverage if they were employed as a full-time or part-time worker. They may also have been rightfully entitled to coverage if they were improperly classified as an independent contractor while engaged in the work ordinarily afforded to an employee. Workers’ compensation coverage is extended to both eligible documented and undocumented workers in California. Should you have any questions about this opportunity to seek compensation for work-related harm, please alert our legal team during your free consultation.

Civil vs. Criminal Justice for Your Loved One’s Death

If your loved one died due to another’s criminal wrongdoing, it’s important to understand that any criminal action that is or isn’t being taken against those responsible for your loved one’s death is distinct from any civil action you may file regarding your loss. The criminal justice system operates separately from the civil justice system and, therefore, any civil case you might bring will not – in any way – be dependent or even affected by the outcome of any criminal action taken/not taken against those who may be held accountable for your loved one’s death in a civil court.

The standard of proof in a civil action is much lower than it is in a criminal action. As a result, you may have a far easier time holding someone accountable for your loss in civil court than a prosecutor would when filing action in criminal court. Perhaps the most famous modern example of this phenomenon in California involves former pro-football player and actor O.J. Simpson. During the 1990s, Simpson was acquitted of a double homicide, so he faced no criminal consequences for the death of his ex-wife and her friend. However, their surviving loved ones were able to hold him accountable for tens of millions of dollars in civil court. Even if those responsible for your loss are not held criminally responsible for their conduct in a criminal context, that doesn’t bar you from seeking legal recourse in a civil context.

Contact Us Today for a Free Wrongful Death Case Evaluation

Your family and friends have suffered more than enough due to losing your loved one. Speaking with our experienced and dedicated legal team will help to ensure that your family’s finances are not unjustly burdened as a result of your loss as well. Whether you lost your loved one due to work-related harm and are entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits, you are entitled to a significant insurance settlement, and/or you have grounds to file a wrongful death claim (and possibly a survival action), our firm can help you navigate the legal options applicable to your situation as successfully as possible. Please contact us online or over the phone to schedule a free, risk-free, confidential consultation today to learn more. Taking this step can be undeniably tough but doing so may significantly benefit you and your loved ones down the road. We look forward to speaking with you.