The death of a family member or loved one is heartbreaking no matter the circumstances. However, a loss of this type caused by way of a wrongful, unlawful, or negligent act is a true tragedy – it is a loss of life that could very likely have been avoided. When a party in Murrieta takes actions resulting in the wrongful death of an individual, they can incur legal liability for the death.
Despite Murrieta’s relatively low crime rate, roughly 149 crimes per 100,000 individuals annually – lower than the national average of 322 per 100,000 individuals – wrongful deaths do occur. The city reported multiple rapes, robberies, and assaults each of the past few years. If you lost a loved one due to a wrongful death, it is highly advisable you speak with a Murrieta attorney experienced in handling wrongful death cases to preserve your legal rights and determine the best course of action.
How Do Wrongful Death Claims Arise?
It is common to assume wrongful death causes of action arise if your loved one is killed in an accident. While this is true, there are many situations that are less common and do not immediately come to mind that can give rise to a wrongful death claim. If someone in Murrieta is killed because of a party’s criminal act or wrongful or negligent behavior, the decedent’s survivors may have a claim. Wrongful death claims can come from:
- Farm and industrial accidents;
- Accidents with tools and equipment on construction sites;
- Hazardous material exposure;
- Medical malpractice;
- Violent crimes and Police actions; and
- Defective medications and drugs.
Wrongful death claims are civil in nature – not criminal – even when a death is the end result. The decedent’s successors in Murrieta can sue civilly for a wrongful death no matter if there is also a criminal case in progress or potentially forthcoming.
Can I File A Wrongful Death Claim in Murrieta?
If you have lost a loved one, you are justified in feeling you were injured by their death and that you deserve to be compensated. However, it becomes complicated to figure out who among the deceased’s loved ones has standing to sue. These issues can be unclear and complex, so it is wise to seek clarification from an attorney experienced with wrongful death case in Murrieta.
California has codified the individuals who have appropriate standing to file a wrongful death claim. A lawsuit is properly brought by a decedent’s survivors.
Most of the individuals with standing to pursue wrongful death claims are the close family of a decedent, such as a:
- Surviving spouse;
- Living children of a decedent’s deceased child; and
- Registered domestic partner.
If any of those named individuals exist, no others may sue as survivors of the decedent. However, if these individuals are not alive or did not exist, then a:
- Putative spouse; and/or
- Any of the putative spouse’s children
may file suit if they can show they were financially dependent on the decedent. If multiple eligible survivors exist, under the law in California they may file a wrongful death claim separately or jointly using a personal injury attorney to act for all the eligible surviving family members as a whole.
Are Wrongful Death Claims Different from Survival Actions?
Though they are similar, wrongful death claims are different from survival actions when a personal wrongfully loses their life. Under California’s Code of Civil Procedure, both can be filed in such a situation.
Wrongful death causes of action allow a decedent’s eligible family members to sue and recover damages if a party has acted illegally, wrongfully, or negligently and caused the death of their loved one. Survival actions, however, are lawsuits filed by a representative of the victim’s estate on the decedent’s behalf to seek damages for the harms the victim suffered before their untimely death.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Murrieta?
It is important to act quickly if you have lost a loved one and are considering filing a wrongful death claim – time is not on your side. California wrongful death claims have a 2-year time limit to file starting on the date of the decedent’s death. If an eligible survivor fails to file their wrongful death claim in the time period, the statute of limitations permanently bars them from bringing their claim and recovering compensation for their loss.
What Kinds of Damages Can I Recover?
It is understandable to wonder how much your case is worth and what you can recover in court. There are varying types of compensatory damages that may be awarded for a wrongful death personal injury claim. Compensatory damages are employed in an attempt to achieve a nearly impossible task for the decedent’s survivors – to compensate them for the death of their loved one. The loved ones eligible to recover damages are usually meant to make them whole for:
- Financial support the survivors had expected the deceased to provide;
- Services the decedent contributed at home; and
- The loss of love, community, affection, moral support, and attention provided by the decedent.
One difference between wrongful death lawsuits and other personal injury claims is that survivors pursuing a Murrieta wrongful death claim cannot receive punitive damages. The only way to recovering punitive damages for the loss of a loved one is to file a survival cause of action in court on behalf of the estate.
What Steps Should I Take Now?
The unexpected loss of a loved one is a traumatic, often drastically life-changing moment for the decedent’s family. To protect your legal rights and get compensation that can help with the changes you are experiencing, you should talk to the skilled Murrieta attorneys at Walton Law about your wrongful death case today. Our experienced attorneys will help you understand your options and determine how best to proceed. Contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866)-338-7079 or through our online Contact Page to schedule a risk free, confidential initial case review today. There is no obligation and owe nothing unless we win your case. Our attorneys will work diligently to help make the best of a bad situation.