A loved one’s unexpected death is a tragic, life-changing event in the lives of their friends and family. The tragedy is only compounded when the decedent was lost by virtue of another’s negligence or criminal actions and the death was likely avoidable. If someone in Menifee is responsible for loss of life by virtue of negligent, wrongful, or illegal acts, they may be liable to decedent’s family for the wrongful death. If you have lost a loved one under such circumstances, you may be entitled for compensation for their wrongful death. Speak to an experienced wrongful death attorney in Menifee today about the options available to you.
Wrongful Deaths in Menifee
By comparison, Menifee is a safe city. With a lower crime rate than both the California and national averages, there is still a noticeable risk of violent crime within the city. Last year 136 incidents of violent crime were reported – many of them fatal. The same year, Menifee also had several fatal motor vehicle accidents involving both motorists, passengers, and pedestrians. Despite the city’s safety, risks of fatal incidents and subsequent wrongful death claims are very much present in Menifee.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death in Menifee?
Though some incidents, such as fatalities in drunk driving accidents, commonly come to mind for wrongful death suits, there are many other less obvious scenarios which may give rise to a claim. If someone is killed because of another’s criminal act, wrongful behavior, or negligent behavior, their survivors may bring a claim for compensation. Wrongful death suits may arise from, among other situations:
- Medical malpractice;
- Construction accidents;
- Violent crimes;
- Police actions; and
- Defective medications.
Do I Have Standing to Bring a Claim?
As the loved one of a decedent, you are right to feel their loss injured you and want compensation for your suffering. However, just because you feel their loss does not necessarily mean you have the right to pursue a claim in court. California law has clarified who among the decedent’s survivors has standing to file a wrongful death claim. When the decedent has very little family or has multiple family members with standing to sue, legal complexities can arise. It is best to seek clarification from an experienced Menifee wrongful death attorney – especially if the survivors elect to sue jointly and want a single attorney to act as the sole representative for all the eligible survivors.
California has created tiers of individuals able to sue as survivors in a wrongful death action. The first group of eligible survivors is comprised of close family of a decedent and includes:
- Surviving spouse;
- Registered domestic partner; and
- A living child from the decedent’s deceased child.
If the decedent has none of these, only then may a secondary group of individuals be eligible to sue. In this case, the right to sue for wrongful death passes to a decedent’s:
- Putative spouse;
- Stepchild; or
- Child of a putative spouse
The right passes to these individuals only if they can show financial dependence on the decedent. Because of the proof required by courts to show financial dependence for individuals such as a parent, it is advisable to consult with a skilled Menifee wrongful death attorney on the best way to proceed.
It should be noted that wrongful death suits brought by eligible survivors may be filed in addition to any criminal case pending or in progress against the accused wrongdoer.
Is a Wrongful Death Claim the Same as a Survival Action Claim?
Though a decedent and their loved ones will never be fully compensated for what has happened, there are ways they and the estate can seek damages against the party responsible at the same time through very similar causes of action. Though it sounds counterintuitive, survival actions are not brought by a decedent’s survivors. Rather, they are claims brought on behalf of the decedent by a representative of their estate for injuries the victim suffered prior to their death. Wrongful death claims, on the other hand, can be brought by eligible family members of a decedent to seek compensation if someone illegally, wrongfully, or negligently caused their family member’s death.
How Much Can I Recover for Wrongful Death?
It’s common for people who have suffered a great loss at the hands of another to wonder how much their claim is worth and what damages they can recover. If you can prove that a party was negligent and their actions caused the death of your loved one, you may be entitled to an award of damages.
Though no amount of money can bring back your loved one or even begin to make up for your loss, compensatory damages are meant to make you whole for your injuries. If you can establish the harms you have suffered in court, you may be able to recover for:
- The value of services a decedent contributed to the household;
- Expected financial support you expected the decedent to provide; and
- Loss of moral support, love, community, and affection the decedent provided.
Though you can recover for compensatory damages, unlike other personal injury claims you are not entitled to punitive damages in wrongful death actions. Those damages would be best pursued in a survival action brought on behalf of the decedent’s estate if warranted by the facts of your case.
When Should I Bring My Claim?
If you have lost a loved one in Menifee and believe you are owed compensation for their wrongful death, you should not wait to act. California has a 2-year statute of limitations from the date of the decedent’s wrongful death for you to file your claim in court. If you do not adhere to this deadline and bring your suit in a timely manner, the court will dismiss your case and you will have no legal recourse to pursue compensation for your loss. Time is not on your side – to avoid a statutory bar, seek the help of a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.
Contact a Menifee Wrongful Death Attorney Today
The sudden loss of a spouse or a family member is a catastrophic event that drastically and permanently alters your life in the blink of an eye. You should speak to the skilled Menifee wrongful death attorneys at Walton Law today about your options moving forward and how to get your life back on track. Our knowledgeable attorneys have years of experience delivering tailored, personalized representation for clients like you and securing millions of dollars in damage awards. Contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866)-338-7079 or via our online Contact Page to schedule a confidential, no risk, no obligation case review today. The initial consultation is free, and you pay nothing until we win your case. Let our attorneys evaluate the facts of your unique situation and work diligently to obtain the best possible outcome for you to help you rebuild.