When someone’s death results from the careless, intentionally harmful, or negligent actions of another person, the victim’s surviving family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit. In this type of legal action, they can seek compensation for their losses after their loved one’s death with the help of an experienced attorney.
At CaseyGerry, we understand that a lawsuit may be the last thing you want to think about when you are grieving the loss of your loved one. We also know that the thought of discussing your loved one’s death and revisiting details of the fatal accident might feel emotionally overwhelming and traumatizing. Our compassionate San Diego personal injury attorneys have been through this experience with other clients, and they will handle your case with the respect and care that you and your family deserve.
We offer free consultations for those who have lost loved ones in an accident caused by someone else’s negligent or reckless conduct. We will listen to your story, answer your questions, and offer you an initial case evaluation at no cost and no obligation. We know that you and your family are suffering, and we want to help.
Families bring wrongful death claims against responsible parties for several reasons. More than anything, surviving family members come to our law firm seeking justice for the loved ones they lost, and the survivors left behind. We know that your family member’s life is irreplaceable. A successful wrongful death claim will not make up for your losses, but surviving family members often experience a sense of closure after justice is served.
Wrongful death claims also ensure that the responsible party is held accountable for their misconduct. When offenders have to answer for their negligent and reckless conduct, they may be less likely to repeat the actions that caused an innocent person’s fatal injuries. Furthermore, a monetary award will provide you and your family with the financial benefits and security that you need to help you plan for your future.
We know that most of our clients would prefer to settle their claims out of court instead of going to trial. Defendants and their insurance companies typically prefer to settle cases over going to trial too, especially when cases are highly emotional. In fatal injury claims, defendants know that they face the risk of large trial awards from sympathetic juries who recognize that grieving family members have suffered unbearable losses due to the defendant’s wrongful conduct.
When negotiating with insurance companies, it is important to understand that their goal is not to compensate you but to pay you as little as possible for your losses. Insurance adjusters will frequently pretend to be on your side while offering you a settlement that is far below the real value of your claim.
Insurance companies are not required to calculate your damages accurately, nor are they required to tell you what damages you are entitled to collect. Your attorney will help calculate your losses and ensure that any offer you accept is fair to you and your family. Plaintiffs with attorneys typically secure a larger settlement than those who try to negotiate with insurance companies on their own.
In most wrongful death cases, the formulas and calculations for determining damages are complex. Financial experts are often necessary to compute future lost earnings, benefits, and other losses. Your attorney will have critical expert resources to help value your claim and to testify regarding your damages at trial, if necessary.
As San Diego’s oldest personal injury law firm, we have represented clients in all types of wrongful death claims. See below for some examples of wrongful death cases that our attorneys handle.
Automobile accidents are one of the leading causes of death in California and across the country. Common factors in fatal car accident cases include driver intoxication, distraction, drowsy driving, driver inexperience, and excessive speed. Fatal injuries are also more common in accidents involving large trucks and busses.
When automobile drivers fail to obey the rules of the road and exercise caution around motorcycles, accidents occur, and the resulting injuries are often catastrophic. Due to the lack of protection and size difference between automobiles and bikes, motorcyclist fatalities are unfortunately common.
Exposure to toxic chemicals and materials such as asbestos are often the result of corporate cover-ups and negligence. Big companies knew for years that asbestos was dangerous, but they kept it quiet while unsuspecting victims were exposed to it on a regular basis. Those responsible for fatal injuries due to toxic exposure should be held accountable.
Slip, trip, and fall cases, especially falling from heights, can lead to fatal injuries. Injury cases that involve dangerous property conditions are known as premises liability cases. Property owners, managers, and those responsible for maintenance have a duty to keep their property free from dangerous conditions. Fatalities are often the result of brain and spinal cord injuries sustained in slip and fall accidents.
Dog owners are responsible for their pets and for any harm that they inflict on others. In California, plaintiffs in wrongful death cases only need to show that their family member was on public property or legally on private property when the dog attack occurred.
Bicyclists and pedestrians are often placed in perilous positions when moving through traffic. Even though their rights are clearly set forth under California laws, drivers often fail to recognize bicycle and pedestrian right of ways. Aggressive driving, carelessness, distraction, intoxication, and speed are common factors in fatal pedestrian and bicycle accident cases.
Aviation accidents and fatalities are more common than most people realize because it is often only the large commercial accidents highlighted in the news. Every day, however, people are injured in accidents involving large and small airplanes, commercial and chartered flights, gliders, helicopters, parachutes, and banner towing operations.
Sellers and manufacturers have a duty to ensure that their products are safe for consumer use and to warn of potential side effects and dangers. When responsible parties put their profits over consumer safety, especially when defective products result in fatal injuries, they should be held accountable.
While these are common causes of wrongful death, a family can file a claim after losing someone in other ways as well. If you’re unsure whether your loss qualifies as wrongful death, the best thing to do is to speak with an experienced lawyer right away.
To prove a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must be able to demonstrate that the defendant’s negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct caused their loved one’s fatal injuries. In general, your attorney must put forth evidence showing that but for the defendant’s wrongful conduct, your family member would not have been injured.
Surviving family members must then prove the damages that they suffered due to losing their loved one. Compensation for surviving family members’ sorrow and grief is not recoverable under wrongful death claims. Compensation for losses that you may be entitled to collect include the following:
Wrongful death claims help to support surviving family members, but that financial recovery does not include the losses that the deceased suffered. In some fatal injury cases, the injury victims survive long enough after an accident to experience losses before their deaths. Survival actions allow the estate’s personal representative to step into the victim’s shoes and make a claim for the losses that he or she suffered.
Although compensation for the deceased’s pain and suffering is not available in survival actions, other damages may be recoverable, such as:
For information on a survivorship action, please click here.
To escape some liability, defendants in wrongful death cases often argue that the decedent was partially at fault for the accident that led to his or her fatal injuries. Even if your family member was partially at fault for the accident, you might still have the right to recover compensation. In comparative fault cases, after the damages are calculated in wrongful death and survival actions, the plaintiff’s award is proportionately reduced by the decedent’s amount of fault.
For example, suppose it is determined at a wrongful death trial that the plaintiffs suffered $1M in damages, the decedent was 10% at fault for the accident, and the defendant was 90% at fault for the accident. The defendant would be responsible for paying $900,000 to the plaintiffs for the defendant’s portion (90%) of fault.
For more than 70 years, CaseyGerry has been successfully representing families who lost loved ones in preventable and tragic incidents all over the country. The defendants in these cases range from individuals to multinational corporations. Each client’s story differs greatly, and nothing can change what happened. As their legal representatives, we are committed to using our experience, skills, and knowledge to recover for their losses.
CaseyGerry was honored to represent the family of former San Diego baseball legend Tony Gwynn in a wrongful death action brought against the tobacco industry. As was reported in the press, the parties reached a confidential settlement that resolved the lawsuit to their satisfaction. The firm also represented victims that died in the 9/11 terrorist attack.
If you lost a loved one due to another person’s negligent, intentionally harmful, or careless action, our legal team can help. We welcome you to contact CaseyGerry to schedule a confidential consultation. An experienced wrongful death attorney will explain the next steps and what you can expect. You can reach our office at (619) 238-1811.