Losing a loved one under any circumstance is heartbreaking. However, when it’s under the cloud of a wrongful, illegal, or negligent act it becomes a tragedy – a loss that could and should have been avoided. When a person or organization in Temecula is responsible for the wrongful death of an individual, they may be liable for their actions. Even though crime in Temecula is low with only 118 violent crimes reports in 2017, wrongful deaths do occur. If a loved one has been the victim of a wrongful death, it is important for you to contact an experienced Temecula wrongful death attorney to learn your options, protect your rights, and determine the best way to proceed.
When Does Wrongful Death Occur?
People commonly assume wrongful death claims arise when a loved one is killed in a car accident. While this is true, there are many less common and less obvious scenarios that can give rise to a lawsuit. If someone in Temecula dies as a result of someone else’s illegal, wrongful, or negligent act, this may give rise to a wrongful death claim for the decedent’s survivors. Among other scenarios, these claims can stem from:
- Accidents involving farm or industrial machinery, tools and equipment on construction sites;
- Exposure to hazardous or toxic materials;
- Deaths arising from medical malpractice;
- Murders, robberies, physical assaults, police actions, and other violence; and
- Using prescription drugs or other products later found to be defective.
It is important to understand wrongful death claims are civil and not criminal even though a death has occurred. A Temecula family can still sue civilly for wrongful death even if a criminal case is in progress.
Can I Sue for Wrongful Death in Temecula?
If you have lost a loved one to wrongful death, it is a painful experience and you rightfully feel you have been injured by their loss. However, there are complicated questions about who among the decedent’s family has the right to sue and seek compensation for their death that are best answered by an experienced wrongful death attorney in Temecula.
California has established the identity of individuals who are able to pursue a wrongful death cause of action. It may either be brought directly by a decedent’s survivors.
The main category of individuals that can file wrongful death actions are close family members:
- A surviving spouse;
- The decedent’s children;
- If the decedent’s child is also deceased, any living children of that child; and
- The decedent’s registered domestic partner.
If any of these people exist, no other individuals may sue. However, if none exist, then a parent, stepchild, putative spouse (person with the legitimate belief they were legally married to the decedent but had an invalid marriage) and/or any of the putative spouse’s children may file suit if they were the decedent’s dependent.
If more than one eligible person exists, the law in California also has a provision allowing a personal injury attorney to file a joint lawsuit if they are acting on behalf of surviving family members.
Wrongful Death Claims vs. Survival Actions
Even though they are similar in nature, it is important to distinguish between wrongful death causes of action and survival causes of action. The two are frequently brought at the same time as they are closely linked under the California Code of Civil Procedure and often both applicable to the wrongful death of a person. In California, wrongful death actions allow surviving family members to recover monetary damages if a person’s wrongful act results in the death of their loved one. A survival cause of action, on the other hand, is a lawsuit brought by a representative on behalf of the victim’s estate that seeks to recover for losses the victim suffered (rather than their family members) due to the wrongful act.
When Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Temecula?
If you are considering filing a wrongful death claim, it is important to be proactive – time is of the essence. California law has a 2-year statute of limitations to file these claims from the date of the decedent’s death. If an eligible individual does not file their case in court within this time period, they will be barred from bringing their claim permanently and lose the ability to recover damages in court.
What Can I Recover?
It is understandable to wonder what damages you are entitled to if you claim wrongful death in Temecula. There are different types of damages plaintiffs in a wrongful death personal injury claim may recover. Compensatory damages for wrongful death are used as an attempt to achieve the impossible – to make the survivors whole for the loss of their loved one. The decedent’s survivors are usually apportioned losses including:
- The amount of expected financial support;
- The value of services contributed to the household; and
- The value of love, affection, guidance, moral support, community, and attention lost.
Unlike many causes of action that fall under the personal injury umbrella, the survivors filing a wrongful death cause of action in Temecula are cannot recover punitive damages even if they are eligible for an award of compensatory damages. California law has established that the only method for recovering punitive damages from the defendant in a wrongful death case is to file a survival cause of action.
What Should I Do?
The wrongful death of a loved one is a life-changing event for the family of the deceased. To protect your legal rights and help get your life back on track you should speak with the experienced Temecula wrongful death attorneys at Walton Law without delay. Our skilled attorneys will help you learn your options and determine the best way to proceed to obtain a just recovery and start rebuilding. Contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866)-338-7079 or through our online Contact Page to schedule your no-risk, confidential initial consultation today. There is no obligation and you do not pay until we win your case. Our attorneys will review the facts of your case and advocate aggressivey to get the best possible outcome for you and your loved ones.