If you have lost a loved one, let our firm first offer our most sincere condolences. Our team has extensive experience working with the families of injury and illness victims who have lost their lives as the result of the preventable actions or inactions of others, so we have a strong sense of just how challenging this time must be for you and your family. We believe that every family deserves to explore their legal options in a no-cost, pressure-free, obligation-free, and confidential setting in the wake of a tragic loss. As a result, you can schedule a free case evaluation with our experienced legal team at any time. It can be exceptionally difficult to think about exploring your legal options when you’re focused on your grief. Please just don’t wait too long, as the law only allows you so much time to file a claim. Additionally, the last thing you need as you’re grappling with loss is to be burdened with the financial consequences of that loss. Consider allowing us to help you pursue compensation from those who (fully or in part) caused your loved one’s death.
Seeking Justice for Families Who Have Lost Loved Ones
When families lose loved ones in ways that could have been prevented had others not acted negligently, recklessly, or in purposefully dangerous ways, the legal aftermath of these losses can be complex, time-consuming, and emotional to navigate. If you find yourself in this position, please know that you don’t have to weather the legal and financial challenges that have resulted from the loss of your loved one on your own. Our experienced legal team is available at any time to offer personalized legal guidance and to help ensure that you have the support and counsel you need to make informed decisions about your legal options.
We pride ourselves on an efficient and effective approach to representation that is as passionate as it is compassionate. There are few things in life more worthy of effort than fighting for the rights of those whose deaths could have been prevented and for the rights of the loved ones who remain. We will treat your case with the respect, consideration, focus, determination, and attention to detail that it deserves. It is our hope that working with our firm will allow you to rest easier than you otherwise might, secure in the knowledge that experienced advocates are working as hard as we possibly can on behalf of your family and on behalf of the loved one you have lost.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
California law permits close family members – generally through the estate of the deceased – to pursue a wrongful death claim in the event that their loved one’s death was caused by the unlawful negligence, recklessness, or intentionally dangerous behavior of one or more third parties, and surviving family members are suffering “monetary injury” as a result of this loss. In the event that the deceased suffered pain before their death, a family filing a wrongful death suit may also (per California Code of Civil Procedure 377.30) file a survival action to seek compensation for any conscious pain and suffering experienced by the deceased prior to their death.
Per California Code, Code of Civil Procedure § 377.60, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate and/or any of the following persons are legally permitted to file a wrongful death claim: A surviving spouse, child or children, domestic partner, the issue of deceased children, and minors who are members of the deceased’s household and dependent on the deceased for at least half of their financial support. There are also rights to file extended to other close family members under certain circumstances that our firm will be happy to clarify.
When you file a wrongful death claim, the process unfolds much as any other personal injury claim would. Our firm will work hard to build the strongest possible case on your behalf. We’ll also negotiate with insurance providers on your behalf. We’ll handle the complex legal issues at hand so that you can focus on your loved ones. However, you can rest assured that we’ll keep you informed at every step along the way and that we will never make a major decision about your case without your express approval. It is our job to serve our clients’ interests, not the other way around.
Criminal vs. Civil Cases in re: Wrongful Death
Please don’t shy away from exploring your civil legal options simply because there has been a criminal case opened in connection with your loved one’s death. Criminal and civil legal matters are distinct. Wrongful death cases are often initiated after someone has lost their life due to a criminal act. It’s important to understand that regardless of whether an individual who contributed to your loved one’s death or caused their death outright is being held accountable within the criminal justice system, you may be able to hold them accountable in civil court. Your personal injury case would be completely separate from any criminal case tied to your loved one’s death and would not be influenced by the outcome of the criminal matter. Perhaps the most famous modern example of this distinction involves former pro-football player O.J. Simpson. In the 1990s, Simpson was found not guilty of murdering his former spouse and her friend. However, following that controversial acquittal, Simpson was found liable for the victims’ deaths in a personal injury suit and ordered to pay the families of these victims tens of millions of dollars.
Considerations if Your Loved One Died Due to Their Job
It’s important to understand that your family might have multiple legal opportunities to pursue if your loved one died due to their working conditions, a work-related accident, or as a result of virtually any other cause provided that they were engaging in work-related activities at the time they were injured or taken ill. Unlike the personal injury claims process, the California workers’ compensation system is a no-fault process. This means that even if your loved one was partially or totally at-fault for the circumstances leading to their injury or occupational illness and eventual death, it’s still possible to secure a compensation award related to your family’s loss.
It is worth noting that not everyone is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, so please try to avoid committing to requesting a benefits award before speaking with our firm. Generally, if your loved one was classified as either a part-time or full-time employee, it will be possible to submit a “death benefits” claim through the workers’ compensation system. If your loved one worked as an independent contractor or worked for a very small company, they are likely not eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits. However, as some workers are misclassified and some family members receive inaccurate information about death benefits eligibility from their loved ones’ employers, it is best to speak with our firm about your family’s eligibility for this compensation before dismissing the idea that you’re ineligible for such benefits.
Per Cal. Labor Code §§ 3501-3503 (2020), most closely related family members of the deceased are permitted to seek death benefits, as are those who resided in the deceased individual’s household and were at least partially dependent upon the deceased for financial support at the time that the worker eligible for workers’ compensation coverage passed away. Death benefits are calculated per Cal. Labor Code §§ 4700 and following (2020). The calculation of benefits ultimately depends upon how many dependent relatives are claiming benefits and whether the dependents in question are total dependents or partial dependents. These benefits are then paid in installments. Our firm will be happy to clarify the total amount of benefits your family may be entitled to once we learn about how many full and partial dependents are eligible to receive compensation.
Preparing for Your No-Cost Case Evaluation
In the hours or days before your free consultation, please take time to write down your questions and concerns. Additionally, you may want to write down any questions or concerns that other family members have if they won’t be present in the consultation setting and therefore available to voice these concerns on their own. Too often, prospective clients arrive at their consultations and remain distracted throughout the discussion because they are trying to remember something that they wanted to ask our team. Writing down your questions and concerns in advance will free you from having to be “on” while we’re speaking. Instead, you can simply reference your notes and allow us to answer your questions one by one.
If you have access to any photos, videos, documentation, or contact information that will help us to evaluate your case more completely and with greater accuracy, please being these resources with you when you attend your no-cost case evaluation. The more detailed information we have available “from go,” the more empowered we’ll be to provide you with legal guidance tailored specifically for your situation. Information that can be useful may include accident reports, police reports, medical records, photos or videos from an accident scene, etc. Additionally, gaining access to the names and contact information of witnesses, physicians who have treated your loved one, co-workers who may have first-hand knowledge of your loved one’s working conditions, etc. can be very helpful too. Obviously, the information that will be relevant depends upon the circumstances that led to the death of your loved one. You can feel free to use your best judgment when preparing this information or you can call and ask what kinds of information would be helpful to bring along given the unique circumstances surrounding your family’s situation.
Contact Us Today for a Free Wrongful Death Case Evaluation
If you’ve lost a loved one and you either know or suspect that another’s negligence, recklessness, or intentionally dangerous actions/inactions contributed to your loved one’s death, please contact our firm today to schedule a no-cost, risk-free, confidential case evaluation. Navigating the grief of your situation is likely an “all day every day” burden at the moment. Please know that our experienced legal team understands how challenging it is to simply pick up the phone at this point. As soon as we understand your situation and legal needs, we’ll begin (with your permission, of course) building the strongest possible case on behalf of your family so that you can return your attention and energy anywhere else you need to exert effort right now. Our firm would be honored to handle the legal aftermath of your loved one’s death, so that you don’t have to. Please connect with our experienced attorneys today to learn more; we look forward to speaking with you.