There is nothing more difficult than losing a loved one unexpectedly.
Knowing that your loved one’s death could have and should have been prevented can make the healing process even harder.
While no amount of financial recovery can ever make up for your loss, pursuing a wrongful death action against the liable party can bring you a sense of justice and ease the unanticipated financial burdens associated with the loss of a family member.
Hiring a skilled San Diego wrongful death attorney can help you get the justice and financial compensation your family deserves.
If your loved one died as a result of someone else’s negligent or wrongful actions, Saeedian Law Group can help. Our San Diego wrongful death attorneys understand what you are going through; our firm is here to guide you through the legal process and handle every aspect of your claim so that you can focus on healing and spending time with your loved ones.
Reach out to Saeedian Law Group today for a free consultation with attorney Michael Saeedian. Please call (310) 288-3000 or send us a message.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death claims are civil lawsuits that surviving family members file to hold a negligent party accountable for their loved one’s death. These claims differ from other personal injury lawsuits as the damages are based on the survivor’s losses, not those of the deceased.
Compensation for the deceased’s damages before they passed away is covered under a survival action, which is often filed along with a wrongful death lawsuit.
Another important aspect of a wrongful death claim is that it’s not a criminal action. Criminal charges are filed by the state or federal government and involve some type of punishment, including fines or restitution. The criminal case has no bearing on your ability to bring a civil lawsuit for financial compensation.
Damages in San Diego Wrongful Death Claims
The loss of a family member or loved one is an incredibly difficult thing to endure. Unfortunately, surviving family members are often left to deal with not only the immense emotional consequences of such a loss but myriad financial burdens, as well.
If your loved one required medical treatment prior to his or her death, you could be left facing enormous medical bills. Funerals and memorial services typically cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. And, if you were financially dependent on your loved one, you now face the overwhelming obstacle of securing enough income to pay your bills, make your rent or mortgage payments, buy food, send your children to school, and take care of life’s countless other monetary needs.
At Saeedian Law Group, our San Diego wrongful death attorneys can help you seek compensation for your damages by bringing a wrongful death claim against the liable party.
These damages vary, but typically include:
- Medical expenses incurred prior to death;
- Burial/funeral costs or cremation costs;
- Lost income, including loss of expected income;
- The value of household services;
- Loss of love/affection;
- Loss of support (financial, emotional, and otherwise); and
- Loss of community and attention.
In California, only certain individuals may bring a wrongful death claim. These individuals include the surviving spouse or domestic partner of the deceased, the surviving children (if any) of the deceased, and anyone in the direct line of descent of the deceased. If no such person exists, anyone who would legally be entitled to receive an inheritance/property from the deceased’s estate may bring a claim.
Additionally, anyone who can prove that they were financially dependent on the deceased at the time of his or her death can bring a wrongful death claim in California.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California
According to the California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60, those permitted to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a loved one are a surviving spouse or domestic partner, or children of the deceased.
If none of the above exist, anyone entitled to the deceased’s property can file a claim, this can include the deceased’s parents or siblings.
Additionally, the following people can file a claim if they were financially dependent on the deceased:
- The putative spouse of the deceased and their children;
- Stepchildren of the deceased; and
- Parents of the deceased.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Before you can collect damages in a wrongful death lawsuit, you must prove four necessary elements. Proving liability in a wrongful death case can be more complicated because the victim is not alive to testify as to what happened.
The four elements of a San Diego, California wrongful death claim are:
- The defendant owed the deceased a duty of care;
- The defendant breached the duty of care through negligence, recklessness, or an intentional act;
- The negligent or wrongful act was the primary cause of the victim’s death; and
- Your family (the deceased’s beneficiaries) suffered damages as a result of the death.
Your San Diego wrongful death attorney will gather the necessary evidence to help prove these elements. We will conduct a thorough investigation and hire experts who can testify if necessary.
Their opinions can be crucial in determining the outcome of your case. Experts may include anyone from an accident reconstructionist who can testify about how the accident occurred to medical and occupational experts who can testify about what the cause of death was, future loss of earnings, etc.
Why Should You File Claim?
Understandably, you’re in mourning, so filing a civil lawsuit may be the furthest thing from your mind. Your immediate priorities may include planning a funeral and determining where your family member will be buried. You are likely also concerned about your family’s financial future, especially if your deceased loved one was the primary wage earner.
At the Saeedian Law Group, we empathize with what you are trying to deal with. We are sensitive to the fact that filing a lawsuit may not be your highest priority right now. But while filing a lawsuit can be complicated, it can provide multiple benefits.
For one, you can get some justice for your family member by ensuring the at-fault party is held accountable for their actions. It’s not uncommon for some defendants to go on and commit similar acts that will affect another family. For example, a drunk driver who kills someone may not have learned their lesson and will go on to continue drinking and driving when they get their license reinstated. You may be able to deter them from committing another wrongful or negligent act in the future.
Some family members find that filing a lawsuit can bring them much-needed closure. While no amount of money can bring back a loved one, knowing the responsible party will be held responsible can help.
The most obvious benefit of filing a wrongful death lawsuit is the financial peace of mind it can bring to your family. You deserve to have the compensation owed to you. Your family needs to be protected in the future and be able to take care of each other. Facing an uncertain future without a family member that you were financially dependent on can be terrifying. It’s understandable that you may be emotionally overwhelmed while trying to grieve and think about the future.
Let the San Diego wrongful death attorneys at Saeedian Law Group help. We can take care of all the stressful and complicated legal aspects of your family member’s death, allowing you to concentrate on grieving and taking care of the rest of your family members.
In a survival action, the personal representative assumes the legal rights of the deceased.
That means the estate can collect the damages the deceased would’ve been entitled to, had they survived. You can only file a survival action if the person lived for a short time after the accident or complications from the accident ultimately caused them to pass away.
In California, a survival action can include damages for any losses the deceased incurred prior to their death, including penalties or punitive damages they might’ve been eligible to receive. For example, their medical expenses and lost wages prior to death and their physical pain and suffering could be compensated in a survival action. If the at-fault party acted intentionally or exhibited gross negligence, then the amount might include punitive damages.
Why You Should Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney in San Diego Right Away
As with other types of personal injury claims, there are legal deadlines when it comes to filing a wrongful death lawsuit. In most cases, you have only two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Failure to file within the statute of limitations means the court could dismiss your case entirely, and your family will be barred from any type of financial recovery.
Don’t assume because the deadline is two years that you have plenty of time. The longer your attorney has to gather evidence, the better. You want to preserve evidence right away and have your attorney speak with witnesses to confirm their testimony. If you wait a year, some evidence may have disappeared, witnesses won’t remember all the details or may be difficult to locate, etc.
Some people may be concerned about the impression it gives by contacting an attorney shortly after a loved one’s death. There’s no better time to contact us than right after your family member passes away. We will be there every step of the way and guide you along through the legal process. You only need to concentrate on your family and to grieve, our experienced wrongful death lawyers in San Diego will take care of the rest.
Request a Free Consultation Today with a San Diego Wrongful Death Attorney
For over a decade, Saeedian Law Group has been providing compassionate, one-on-one legal representation for the surviving family members and loved ones of those wrongfully killed by the negligence of others. We handle all types of wrongful death claims.
Give us a call at (310) 288-3000 or submit an online contact form to request your no-cost, no-obligation consultation today. We are available by phone 24/7.