The loss of a loved one – expected or not – is never easy. However, coping with a loss becomes exponentially more difficult when their death was unexpected and could have been avoided had everyone involved behaved responsibly. When a survivor loses a loved one because someone’s negligence, wrongful conduct, or criminal actions, they may be able to recover damages to make up for injuries suffered as a result of the tragic, sudden death. If you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s actions, contact an experienced Hemet Wrongful Death Attorney to learn if you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries.
Risk Factors for Wrongful Deaths in Hemet
Though Hemet is in a relatively remote part of bustling Riverside County, the city is not without risk factors that elevate the risk of its residents experiencing situations that could bring about wrongful death claims. The relatively small city of 84,000 is boxed in by the busy 15 freeway, 10, freeway, and 215 freeway and has two other large freeways – California State Routes 74 and 79 – that pass directly through its 25.6 square mile location. Hemet saw 638 reported traffic accidents resulting in injury or death in 2016 – ranking them 7th out of 104 reporting cities in California. Worse yet, 56 of those accidents involved drivers under the influence of alcohol. Hemet’s crime rate is also 1.5 times the national average, making it more likely Hemet residents will be victims of potentially fatal violent crimes. The heavy traffic, large commuter population on dangerous roads, commonality of car accidents, and high crime rates all create scenarios where at any moment someone could lose their life because of someone else’s actions – scenarios that could also give rise to wrongful death claims.
What Circumstances Warrant a Wrongful Death Claim?
Though drunk driving fatalities and other situations where glaringly bad behavior resulted in a fatality often come to mind for purposes of wrongful death lawsuits, the list of possible scenarios giving rise to such a claim is far more expansive. Almost any situation where an avoidable loss of life occurred due to negligence, intentional, or criminal conduct can give rise to a claim for recovery. Some scenarios include:
- Police actions;
- Construction accidents;
- Motor vehicle accident fatalities;
- Victims of violent crime; and
- Medical malpractice.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim in Hemet?
Even though everyone close to a decedent may be greatly hurt by their tragic and unexpected absence, not everyone has standing to sue for damages stemming from their wrongful death. In California, two classes of decedent’s family may bring wrongful death claims. In cases where a decedent has almost no family or an extensive family standing may become confusing, so it’s advisable to speak with a Hemet Wrongful Death Lawyer for clarification. Additionally, a wrongful death attorney may represent more than one survivor in wrongful death claims so long as no conflict of interest is present – a consideration that may greatly streamline the litigation process for decedent’s survivors.
The first class of eligible survivors is basically the decedent’s immediate family:
- Surviving spouse;
- Living grandchild if their parent is a deceased child of the wrongfully deceased victim; and
- Registered domestic partner.
If there are no members of the first class, a second survivor group gains eligibility to sue. However, even if an individual is a qualifying secondary survivor, they cannot sue unless they demonstrate financial dependence on the decedent. Secondary survivors include decedent’s:
- Putative spouse; and
- Children of decedent’s putative spouse.
Eligible survivors may bring their claim at any time during the prescribed statutory period regardless of whether a criminal case is already filed or pending against the defendant.
How are Wrongful Death Claims Different from Survival Actions?
Though wrongful death and survival actions are brought on by the same precipitating event – the unexpected, avoidable loss of life because of someone’s bad behavior, the claims have a fundamental difference that distinguishes them as unique causes of action. While survival actions are brought by the decedent’s estate through a representative for damages done to the estate between the victim’s injuries and death, wrongful death lawsuits are filed by eligible survivors of the decedent for personal injuries suffered because of their loved one’s untimely, avoidable death.
How Much Can I Recover for My Wrongful Death Injuries?
Wondering how much your wrongful death claim is worth is normal, because no amount of money can bring your loved one back. If, however, you can establish someone’s negligent, wrongful, or criminal behavior resulted in your loved one’s death, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Negligence is the most common theory of recovery and requires proving the defendant owed you a legal duty of care, breached that duty, and their breach caused your injuries.
Once you prove a defendant is liable for your damages, you may receive a compensatory damage award to try and make you whole for your injuries such as:
- Loss of decedent’s love, support, affection, and companionship;
- Loss of financial support expected from the deceased; and
- Loss of the value of services the decedent contributed to your household.
Victims, though entitled to compensatory damages they can prove in court, cannot seek or recover punitive damages when pursuing a wrongful death claim.
When Should I File My Hemet Wrongful Death Claim?
It’s understandable that the prospect of taking action after such an unexpected, traumatic loss can be overwhelming. However, being proactive is important even if it seems daunting – time is not on your side. California created a 2-year deadline for filing a wrongful death claim in court; the time begins running from the date of your loved one’s death. If you do not fail your claim before the deadline passes, the statute of limitations will permanently bar you from recovering any compensation in court for your loved one’s wrongful death and cause the court to dismiss any subsequent claim you may file.
Contact a Hemet Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s bad behavior, speak to the skilled Hemet Wrongful Death Attorneys at Walton Law right away. Our attorneys have years of experience providing personalized, compassionate representation to victims like you and have secured millions of dollars in compensation for our clients to help them get their lives back on track. Contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866)-338-7079 or via our online Contact Page to schedule your confidential, no-risk no initial case evaluation today. The initial consultation is free, there is no obligation, and you pay nothing until we win your case. Let our experienced attorneys review your unique situation and work on obtaining the best possible result for you so that you can focus on your recovery.