Accidents often lead to injuries, but in some cases, they can also cause death. When someone else’s negligence results in the death of your loved one, you may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Ehline Law and our San Diego wrongful death attorneys understand that no amount of money can help replace the loss of your loved one.
However, you and your family deserve justice and compensation for the financial burden following the death of your family member. Contact us for a free consultation on your wrongful death case.
Who Has the Right to Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in San Diego?
Under California law, only certain relationships or family members can pursue a wrongful death claim, and these include the following:
- Surviving spouse or domestic partner
- Grandchildren if the decedent’s children are also deceased
- Putative spouse and putative children
- Minors who resided with the decedent for a long duration.
Others may be eligible for filing a wrongful death claim against the negligent party, such as those financially dependent on the decedent.
If you’ve lost a loved one and are unsure whether you qualify, contact us to learn more about your legal rights.
Types of Wrongful Death Cases We Handle
Ehline Law and our San Diego wrong death attorneys have over a decade of experience handling wrongful death claims and protecting our client’s rights.
We’ve dealt with all types of accidents resulting in wrongful death claims, some of which include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle crashes
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Uber and other ride-hailing accidents
- Defective products.
More San Diego, CA Practice Areas
Ehline Law San Diego wrongful death attorneys have fought for the rights of grieving families and ensured they receive the best legal representation in California.
What Are the Recoverable Damages in a San Diego Wrongful Death Case?
A wrongful death claim is a legal tool grieving family members use to receive financial compensation for their loss. Compensatory damages are further divided into two categories; economic and non-economic damages.
The economic damages you may pursue in a wrongful death claim include medical expenses, funeral expenses, property damage, lost wages, and lost household services.
While economic damages refer to out-of-pocket expenses, non-economic damages are compensation for non-monetary losses suffered from an accident. These are challenging to quantify, and some examples include loss of companionship, loss of protection, loss of guidance, and pain and suffering, among others.
Besides compensatory damages, the court may also award punitive damages in cases of serious gross negligence or international harm carried out by the defendant.
Proving wrongful death cases are often challenging as plaintiffs must establish causation, a link between the defendant’s negligence and the victim’s death. It is crucial to reach out to an experienced wrongful death lawyer and discuss your case to determine the damages you may be able to recover.
After losing a loved one, the entire family mourns for the next few days or weeks. Not many think about bringing legal action, but surviving family members need to hire a San Diego wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.
Some may feel that an attorney is profiting from the death of their loved ones, while others may feel completely overwhelmed with the passing of their loved ones that they don’t take a moment to think about hiring an attorney.
Our award-winning wrongful death attorneys are here to protect your rights and take the necessary steps to ensure that the at-fault party and the insurance companies treat you fairly and respectfully.
You may want to deal with the insurance company yourself without the help of the attorney. But, it is crucial to understand that the insurance companies are not looking out for your best interests. They may take advantage of your adverse financial situation and coerce you into accepting a settlement much lower than you deserve.
Another vital thing to consider is that handling an insurance company deserves your time and attention. In most cases, potential clients that come to us want some space to grieve the loss of their loved one.
Experienced wrongful death lawyers are your and your family’s best protection against the insurer. Our San Diego wrongful death lawyers will handle the entire legal process, from gathering evidence to filing claims, handling the insurance company, and negotiating a settlement on your behalf. At the same time, you take time to grieve your loss.
Contact us for a free consultation with our San Diego wrongful death attorney to learn more about how we can assist during this challenging time.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
One of the reasons why it is important to pursue a wrongful death claim as soon as possible is California’s statute of limitations.
Under California law, surviving family members only have two years from the date of their loved one’s fatal accident to pursue legal action against the negligent party. If you fail to file a wrongful death claim within two years, you lose your right to recover compensation.
There are exceptions to this two-year rule, and they are as follows.
Under the discovery rule, the court may extend the statute of limitations when the victim’s family could not have reasonably found out about their loved one’s death until some time later.
The statute of limitations remains paused until the date they learn about the decedent’s passing.
Surviving family members could bring a wrongful death lawsuit within three years following the death of their loved one if they died due to a medical professional’s negligence.
Lawsuits Against Government Entities
The two exceptions mentioned above extend the filing date, but this one, unfortunately, shortens it. If your loved one died due to the negligence of a government entity or employee, you only have six months to pursue a wrongful death claim.
In California, the surviving family members may recover death benefits under the workers’ compensation insurance program if an employee dies during a work accident.
Employers in California must purchase workers’ compensation insurance for all their eligible workers regardless of the industry they work in, the job title they hold, or their work responsibilities.
Under California law, workers’ compensation pays death benefits to the eligible family member of the worker who dies during a work-related accident. These benefits include the following:
- Funeral and burial expenses (up to $10,000)
- $250,000 in death benefits (adjusted for more depending on the worker’s dependents.).
You may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the employer to recover additional compensation. Generally, under California law, you may not sue the employer if you’ve received the workers’ compensation death benefits. However, depending on your loved one’s circumstances, you may be able to pursue wrongful death action.
If you’ve lost a loved one due to a work-related accident in San Diego, you must contact an experienced San Diego wrongful death lawyer to learn more about your rights and legal options.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
The victim’s surviving family members must prove the four elements of a wrongful death claim to have a strong case and win, and these include:
- The defendant owed the victim a duty of care and breached that legal duty.
- The victim died
- The victim’s death resulted from the defendant’s negligence
- The victim’s family suffered losses from the death of their family member.
The victim’s family can submit a lot of evidence to prove wrongful death, including medical expenses, funeral costs, witness testimony, employment records, and more. However, the challenging part of a wrongful death claim is proving causation, meaning that the defendant’s negligence resulted in the death of a loved one.
An experienced wrongful death attorney can help gather the relevant evidence required to prove negligence and causation and obtain the compensation you and your family deserve.
Are Criminal Charges Different than Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
In the case where someone intentionally causes another’s death, the state prosecutors will most likely pursue criminal charges against the party. When this happens, the victim’s family members are often confused about whether they can recover damages if the state is pursuing criminal charges against the offender.
It is important to understand that even if the state pursues criminal charges against the offender, the victim’s family members can still bring a separate wrongful death claim to recover damages.
Civil lawsuits can proceed alongside a criminal case without affecting one another. The wrongful death suit helps compensate the surviving family members, while a criminal action delivers justice under the state’s criminal law.
In a criminal case, the burden of proof on the prosecutors is much higher than on an attorney representing a wrongful death lawsuit. Even if the court cannot prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the civil court can still hold them liable for damages based on the evidence provided.
For example, in the case of OJ Simpson, the court could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that OJ was responsible for the murder of his ex-wife. However, the civil court did find him liable for the death in a civil trial with the same evidence.
How Much Does a San Diego Wrongful Death Lawyer Cost?
Ehline Law and our San Diego wrongful death attorneys do not charge anything upfront. We understand that the unexpected passing of a loved one can put a family in a dire financial situation. A deceased loved one may leave behind unpaid medical bills, loss of financial support, and many other losses, causing a serious burden on the already grieving surviving family members.
Our attorneys handle wrongful death claims for eligible surviving family members on a contingency fee basis. We do not take any payment unless we recover compensation.
The legal team at Ehline Law believes financial constraints should not prevent surviving family members from seeking quality legal representation.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Ehline Law
If you lost a loved one due to another’s negligence, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation on your wrongful death lawsuit. Our attorneys will stand with you, protect your rights, and help you seek compensation for your loss.