Wrongful Death Attorney
Wrongful Death Attorneys in San Bernardino
Losing a loved one is one of the most painful experiences imaginable, but when this tragedy results from someone else’s negligence, you are also confronted with a great deal of confusion, frustration, and anger. While you can file a personal injury claim for injuries you sustained due to another person’s negligence, the decedent cannot represent themselves. For many years this prevented surviving family members from recovering civil damages for their losses. Finally, in 1960, California became the first state to formally recognize this inequity by instituting wrongful death statutes that allow surviving family members or the decedent’s estate to file a claim against the responsible party to recover damages incurred from the unexpected loss.
Although a wrongful death claim cannot possibly make up for your loss, it can provide you with financial stability during this difficult time, so you can continue supporting your family. If your loved one died in an accident caused by negligence, you need legal representation that is sensitive to your emotions at a difficult time in your life and that holds the responsible party—and their insurer—accountable in a court of law if necessary. Learn more about wrongful death claims by reviewing the information below, then contact the San Bernardino wrongful death attorneys at Kampf, Schiavone & Associates to discuss your case.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death refers to the death of a person that results from the careless, negligent, grossly negligent, or intentionally wrongful conduct of another person or entity. Wrongful death claims can arise from a variety of situations, including:
- Workplace accidents, often caused by heavy equipment or machinery malfunction, vehicle crashes, falls, explosions, or being struck by falling objects
- Police officers or firefighters killed in the line of duty
- Automobile accidents
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
- Premises liability accidents, such as those caused by falls, animal attacks, fires, improperly maintained private or public property, or negligent security
- Accidental poisoning or drowning
- Acts of intentional violence, including assault and battery, murder, and manslaughter, even if the defendant was acquitted in a criminal case
- Instance of medical malpractice, such as failure to diagnose an injury or illness promptly, misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication errors, or birth injuries
- Elder abuse in a nursing home or assisted living center
Defective product accidents resulting from design defects, manufacturing defects, or incorrect labeling of vehicle parts, industrial machinery, medical devices, or children’s products
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
According to the state’s wrongful death statutes, a wrongful death claim must be filed by a personal representative who has been appointed to serve on behalf of the survivors, known as “real parties in interest.” This person is often the executor of the decedent’s estate, but the following individuals are entitled to file a wrongful death claim:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner
- The decedent’s surviving children, adopted children, or stepchildren
- Any other minor children dependent on the decedent for 50% of financial support
- The decedent’s surviving grandchildren if their children are also deceased
If the decedent does not have any surviving family members in their line of descent, a wrongful death claim can be filed by anyone else who is financially dependent on the decedent and would have been entitled to their property through intestate succession, such as:
- The decedent’s putative spouse, which refers to someone who mistakenly believed in good faith that they were involved in a lawful marriage with the decedent
- Children of the decedent’s putative spouse
- The decedent’s parents or legal guardians
- The decedent’s siblings
In cases of wrongful death resulting from birth injuries, the parents of the child killed in the accident are entitled to file the wrongful death claim if the child was born alive and then later died, regardless of whether the injury that caused the death was sustained before or after birth.
How Do I Prove Wrongful Death?
To prove wrongful death, your San Bernardino wrongful death attorney must establish that the death was caused by negligence or intent to cause harm and that you have suffered monetary damage due to the death. Similar to personal injury claims, the court can order the defendant to compensate the surviving family members to cover the damages they incurred. Unlike a criminal case in which the defendant’s guilt must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” wrongful death claims require a lower standard referred to as “preponderance of the evidence,” which involves proving that it is more likely than not that the defendant is responsible for the death. The California statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years after the date of death.
What Damages Can I Recover?
Damages refer to the claimed losses in the wrongful death case. They are intended to compensate the surviving family members for the support they would have reasonably expected to receive from the decedent if the wrongful death had not occurred. These damages fall into two categories:
- Economic damages include income, gifts, benefits, and household services the decedent would have provided, as well as funeral and burial expenses.
- Non-economic damages include loss of the decedent’s society, companionship, comfort, love, affection, care, protection, assistance, intimacy, moral support, and guidance. However, they do not include pain or suffering caused by the death.
California law does not allow you to recover punitive damages, except in cases where the decedent was killed due to a felony homicide for which the defendant received a criminal conviction. However, you may be eligible to take a “survival action” on behalf of the decedent’s estate. This kind of claim can compensate you for any losses unrelated to the death that the decedent had the right to file a claim for or any injuries that caused the death if the decedent initially survived the injury for a certain amount of time before passing away. Wrongful death claims and survival actions are often tried together if they both arise from the same act.
Kampf, Schiavone & Associates Protects Your Rights, Respects Your Emotions
During our decades of combined experience in California’s Inland Empire, the dedicated San Bernardino wrongful death attorneys of Kampf, Schiavone & Associates have used their reputation for expertise, efficiency, and excellent results to address the legal needs of families struggling with the tragedy of wrongful death. Our attorneys conduct an in-depth investigation that digs deeply into the circumstances of your loved one’s fatal accident and identifies the party responsible for it, conduct skillful negotiation with insurers, and if discussions are not productive, forcefully advocate for your family in litigation.
Contact our firm today to discuss your situation in a confidential, complimentary initial consultation. To ease your concerns about the cost of our quality legal services, we offer a contingency fee basis for our hard work on your behalf, meaning you owe no attorney fee unless we win your case. Se habla español.