Losing a loved one is one of the most devastating experiences in life, but it’s even more painful if the death was caused by someone else’s actions. Whether it was the result of negligence or an intentional act, your loved one’s wrongful death may entitle you to compensation in California.
We understand that filing a legal claim may not be your priority as you grieve, but compensation may ease the difficult aftermath of the death. It can bring you significant financial relief, help you rebuild for your future, and give you a sense of justice, knowing that you’ve held the responsible party accountable.
To pursue a wrongful death claim in Riverside, call Gavel Law Firm. Schedule your free consultation at (951) 289-0202.
Choose Our Experienced and Compassionate Wrongful Death Attorney
Gavel Law Firm is uniquely positioned to maximize wrongful death settlements as we have prior experience in the insurance industry. We know what tactics to expect from insurers and how to counter them. This allows us to build a strategic case for every client we work with, helping them fight for full compensation.
We combine this advantageous experience with sincere compassion towards our clients, minimizing their stress as we handle their wrongful death cases.
- You don’t pay us until we win compensation for you.
- We’ll handle the claim while consistently communicating with you.
- You’ll get a team that’s tenacious in their legal work but considerate in attending to your needs.
If you want to file a California wrongful death claim but are unsure what to do, talk to us at Gavel Law Firm. We’ll provide a free consultation where we can assess your next steps and see how we can help you.
What is Wrongful Death? Definition and Examples
Wrongful death is the legal term for a person’s death caused by another party’s negligence, misconduct, or intent to harm. When this happens, the survivors of the deceased may seek damages (compensation) by bringing a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant or their insurance company.
Here are common examples of incidents that lead to wrongful deaths:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle crashes, bicycle crashes, and other road accidents
- Serious slipping or falling accidents
- Workplace injuries
- Drowning and other swimming pool accidents
- Boating accidents
- Defective products
- Medical malpractice
Note that wrongful death is a civil case, separate from any criminal case that arises from the same death. Regardless of what happens with the criminal case, you may continue your civil claim for your loved one’s wrongful death.
Who Can File For Wrongful Death in California?
In California, the persons who have first-priority rights to file for wrongful death are:
- The decedent’s (deceased person’s) surviving spouse or domestic partner
- The decedent’s children
- Any children of the deceased child of the decedent.
If there are none of these, the next to be able to file would be those who may inherit the decedent’s property by law. These may include parents or siblings.
In addition, persons who were financially dependent on the deceased may also bring a wrongful death claim in California. These persons may be the decedent’s stepchildren, “putative” spouse (not a legal spouse but someone who believed in good faith that they were legally married to the decedent), and any children that the decedent had with the putative spouse.
What Compensation Can I Get in a California Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim isn’t meant to repay for the life lost, as there can never be a price tag on a beloved’s life. The goal of a wrongful death claim is to help you manage the financial and emotional distress from your loved one’s death.
A successful wrongful death claim in California may compensate you for economic and non-economic damages related to your loved one’s death. Economic damages may include:
- Funeral and burial or cremation costs
- Medical bills from your loved one’s accident or injury
- Lost financial support from the decedent
- Lost benefits from the decedent
- Lost household services from the decedent.
Meanwhile, economic damages are less tangible but are still recognized by the law as compensable losses. Examples are:
- Lost companionship or marital consortium from the decedent
- Lost parental love and guidance
- Mental or emotional anguish of survivors.
What is the Average Settlement for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?
Wrongful death settlements in California vary widely, hence there is no true ‘average’ settlement amount in these cases. A settlement of $20,000 may be right for one case while another may deserve a $2,000,000 outcome. Each claim has its specific factors that will affect the case value.
To determine how much you may receive as compensation for your loved one’s demise, consult a wrongful death lawyer. At Gavel Law Firm, our experienced attorney can evaluate the full extent of your claim, looking into the various aspects of your life impacted by the death. We’ll take into account your financial and emotional burdens, as well as past and future costs for which you deserve compensation.
Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?
The proceeds of a California wrongful death lawsuit will go to the surviving immediate family members of the deceased. These usually include the spouse or domestic partner, children, and parents. Other parties who were financially dependent on the decedent may also receive money.
When multiple parties are entitled to a share of the proceeds, they must all join in one claim filed by one eligible party. The amount that results from this single claim will then be distributed among entitled beneficiaries.
How Do You Divide a Wrongful Death Settlement in California?
In California, there are several ways to divide a wrongful death settlement among beneficiaries. A common method is when the beneficiaries agree among themselves how to distribute the proceeds. They may decide, for example, to divide the amount equally among themselves, or to allocate a greater share to the surviving spouse or children.
If the beneficiaries cannot come to an agreement, the court may hold a hearing to decide on the distribution. It’s best to consult a Riverside wrongful death attorney if you hope to secure a fair outcome from a complicated claim.
Is There a Cap on Wrongful Death in California?
There is no cap or limit on how much a wrongful death claimant may receive in California. Settlements will depend entirely on the facts of each case, with some cases reaching millions of dollars. However, there is one exception that applies to wrongful death from medical malpractice. In such a case, non-economic damages are limited to a maximum of $250,000.
How Common are Wrongful Deaths in California?
Statistics show that thousands of unintentional fatalities occur in California each year. In 2021, for example, the California Department of Public Health recorded these unintentional deaths from various causes:
- Poisoning – 10,852 fatalities
- Motor vehicle accidents – 4,949 fatalities (including car occupants, bicyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and more)
- Falls – 2,827 fatalities
- Drowning – 452 fatalities
- Suffocation – 378 fatalities
- Fires and burns – 239 fatalities
- Struck by or against an object – 56 fatalities
- Firearms – 32 fatalities
- Machinery – 26 fatalities.
Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Riverside?
Under California’s statute of limitations, you generally have two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit, starting from the date of death. Past this deadline, you may no longer have the right to sue the at-fault party.
Certain factors may extend or shorten this period to sue. For instance, a wrongful death lawsuit based on medical malpractice has a three-year statute of limitations. On the other hand, if you’re suing a government entity for your loved one’s death, you must start the process within six months of the injury. To ensure you never miss a deadline, don’t hesitate to get our legal assistance at Gavel Law Firm.
Contact a Riverside Wrongful Death Lawyer from Gavel Law Firm
Pursuing a wrongful death claim is rarely easy, especially when you’re still mourning the loss of your loved one. You need legal help that’s effective, efficient, and considerate of your situation. Count on Gavel Law Firm. With our legal experience and skill, we’ve helped families in the Inland Empire obtain their rightful compensation while treating them with sincere care to ease their stress throughout the process.
Your consultation with us is free, and you don’t have to pay us any lawyer fees until we’ve won for you. Call Gavel Law Firm now at (951) 289-0202.