It is never easy to handle the loss of a loved one – friends and family of a deceased person may have a difficult time adjusting to their absence. However, the sense of tragedy and loss multiply several times over when that loved one’s death was avoidable but for another person’s negligence, wrongful conduct, or criminal actions. Though it will never make up for the loss of someone, survivors of a decedent may be able to recover damages if their loved one died under such circumstances. If you have lost a loved one, speak to an experienced Riverside wrongful death attorney to see if you may be eligible for compensation for injuries you have suffered as a result of their death.
What Situations Would Constitute a Wrongful Death?
Though some situations such as botched medical procedures may immediately come to mind when thinking of appropriate times to file a wrongful death suit, there are an infinite number of situations that can bring about a tragic, entirely avoidable loss of life. Common negligent, wrongful, and criminal situations that give rise to wrongful death claims are:
- Violent crime;
- Police actions;
- Construction accidents;
- Drunk driving fatalities;
- Medical malpractice; and
- Fatal falls while a guest on another’s property.
Am I Able to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
It’s understandable that anyone who has lost a loved one might feel deeply hurt and grieve their loss greatly. However, not everyone negatively affected by the decedent’s passing has the legal standing to pursue damages through a wrongful death claim. California has designated two distinct classes of individuals related to the deceased who have standing to bring these claims in court. Things can become confusing if the deceased has almost no survivors or has a multitude of eligible survivors, so the best way to clarify who has standing to sue for wrongful death is to speak to an experienced Riverside wrongful death lawyer.
The first class of eligible survivors California designates is essentially their nuclear family: children, surviving spouses, registered domestic partners, and any living children whose parent is a deceased child of the decedent.
If no members of the first class exist, a secondary class of survivor becomes eligible to bring suit. This class includes the parents, putative spouse, stepchildren, or children of a putative spouse of the decedent. Additionally, even if eligible through their connection to the decedent, the secondary class of survivors can only bring suit if they can prove financial dependence on the decedent.
Regardless of whether there is a current or pending criminal case facing the defendant for their actions, an eligible survivor may still bring their wrongful death claim within the statutory timeline.
Are Wrongful Death Claims The Same as Survival Actions?
Though similarly seeking damages surrounding the death of someone due to another’s inappropriate conduct, these two claims are fundamentally different. Wrongful death claims are lawsuits filed by eligible surviving members of a decedent’s family for injuries they personally suffered due to the negligent, wrongful, or criminal actions that led to the death of their loved one. Survival actions, conversely, are brought on behalf of the decedent’s estate – not the survivors themselves – to seek damages for injuries the estate suffered between infliction of the decedent’s injuries and their death.
How Much Can I Recover for My Wrongful Death Injuries?
It’s common for to wonder how much your case may be worth – especially when dealing with injuries for which there can never be full compensation. If a decedent’s survivor can establish that a party’s criminal, negligent, or wrongful actions caused the death of a loved one, though, it is possible to recover compensatory damages for their harms. Compensatory damages are meant to redress injuries a victim suffered due to the defendant’s bad behavior, and may be awarded for injuries including:
- Financial support the victim expected the deceased to provide;
- The value of services the decedent contributed to their household; and
- Loss of love, affection, compassion, and support provided by the deceased.
Even though victims may receive an award of compensatory damages, they are not permitted to recover punitive damages in wrongful death cases.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
If you have lost a loved one in Wilmore and want to seek compensation for the injuries you have suffered as a result of their death, you should act quickly. Time is not on your side, because California has a 2-year statute of limitations for you to bring a wrongful death claim in civil court from the date of death. If you fail to file your wrongful death claim before the 2 years expire, your suit will be dismissed by the court and you forfeit your ability to recover compensation through the legal system permanently.
Speak to a Wrongful Death Attorney in Riverside Today
If you have experienced the unspeakable tragedy of losing a loved one due to the negligent conduct of another, contact the skilled Riverside wrongful death attorneys at Walton Law, APC without delay. Our lawyers have spent years providing comprehensive, customized representation for wrongful death victims and secured millions in recovery for our clients. Contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866)-338-7079 or via our online Contact Page to schedule a no risk, no obligation initial case review today. The confidential consultation is free, and you do not pay until we win your case. Let our experienced attorneys evaluate the facts of your unique situation and start working for you to secure the best possible outcome from a bad situation starting today.