Wrongful Death Lawyers in La Mesa
Losing a loved one is never easy, and we understand that no amount of money can make up for your heartache. However, when a death is caused by the careless, reckless, or intentional conduct of another, California law supports your right to seek justice by bringing a wrongful death claim, which can compensate you for many of your emotional and financial losses. If you are coping with a family member’s death, please allow yourself to grieve, and let the wrongful death attorneys at Garmo & Garmo, LLP handle your legal claim against the at-fault party. While money can never bring a deceased loved one back into your life, a successful claim can ensure you receive compensation for the consequences of the devastating loss.
As experienced wrongful death lawyers, the attorneys at Garmo & Garmo, LLP will handle your claim with compassion, strength, and sensitivity. We know you are struggling not only with emotional trauma, but also harsh financial realities. For instance, there are likely medical bills and funeral expenses. In addition, your family may have lost property, such as a vehicle totaled in a car accident. In cases where the loved one was a primary contributor to the household income, family members may be left struggling with overwhelming debt and trying to avoid bankruptcy.
We are prepared to handle wrongful death claims arising from many different types of accidents, including:
· Automobile Accidents
· Motorcycle Accidents
· Bicycle Accidents
· Pedestrian Accidents
· Dog Bites & Attacks
· Medical Malpractice & Birth Injuries
· Slip & Fall Accidents
· Nursing Home Abuse
· Dangerous or Defective Product Injuries
California law provides for certain family members and others dependent on the deceased to file a wrongful death claim. It is important to consult with an experienced wrongful death lawyer to see if you are eligible.
California Wrongful Death Laws
In California, only certain people can file a wrongful death claim. The relevant law specifically allows the deceased person’s surviving spouse or domestic partner and children to bring a claim. If there is no surviving person in the deceased’s line of descent, then a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by anyone “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession.” This can include the deceased’s parents or siblings, depending on who is living. If you can show you were financially dependent on the deceased person as a “putative spouse” (one considered to be a spouse), child of the putative spouse, stepchild, or parent, you can also file a wrongful death claim.
Why file a wrongful death claim? To regain financial stability and seek accountability and justice after a tragic accident. The attorneys at Garmo & Garmo, LLP are here to help your wrongful death claim succeed.
Damages Available in Wrongful Death Cases
By filing a wrongful death claim, you have the opportunity to recover financial compensation for losses sustained because of your loved one’s death. This is commonly referred to as “damages”. Compensatory damages from a wrongful death claim can be divided into two general categories:
· Economic damages: These are quantifiable monetary losses that the decedent sustained before and after their death. Examples include medical and hospital bills, past and future lost income, the value of household services your loved one provided, and funeral and burial expenses.
- Non-economic damages: These losses are more intangible and difficult to quantify. Examples of non-economic damages may include compensation for pain and suffering your loved one endured before his/her death, and loss of love, community, attention, affection, moral support, and guidance the decedent provided to those closest to him/her.
It is important to note that punitive damages – damages that are awarded to punish the party responsible for the decedent’s death (when their actions were especially egregious) and deter them and others from similar conduct in the future – are generally not available through a wrongful death lawsuit in California. There are exceptions to this, however. For example, if a defendant was convicted of felony homicide for the incident which resulted in your loved one’s death, surviving family members may recover punitive damages.
Punitive damages may also be recovered by filing a survivorship claim on behalf of your loved one’s estate under California Code of Civil Procedure 377.30 in conjunction with the wrongful death claim. To have grounds for a survivorship claim, your loved one must have lived long enough to have suffered economic losses from the underlying incident before their death. Even a small amount of economic loss, such as a few days’ worth of hospital bills, can be grounds for a survivorship claim. This type of action is very complicated, however, and should not be done without the assistance of an attorney with specific experience in this area of the law.
A third instance in which punitive damages may be available is in wrongful death cases that involve elder abuse. For example, if you have an aging loved one whose death was caused by abuse and/or neglect in a nursing home, you may be able to go after the facility where the abuse occurred for punitive damages.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims in California
Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within a specified period of time, commonly known as the “statute of limitations”. In California, the statute of limitations for most wrongful death claims is two years. If a claim is not filed within that time period, those close to the decedent will almost certainly lose their right to recover compensation.
There are some exceptions to the California statute of limitations:
- If the death resulted from the negligence of a healthcare provider (e.g., medical malpractice), the statute of limitations is three years from the date of the injury that led to the decedent’s death or one year from the date in which the plaintiff discovered (or should have discovered through reasonable diligence) the underlying injury;
- If the wrongful death claim is being filed against a government entity, it must usually be filed within six months of the injury that led to the decedent’s death.
Even though you have two years (in most cases) to file a wrongful death claim, it is best to get an experienced lawyer involved as early as possible in the process, so a thorough investigation can be conducted, critical evidence can be recovered, and your legal right to recover compensation can be preserved.
Contact a Skilled and Compassionate La Mesa Wrongful Death Attorney
No one should ever have to endure the untimely death of a loved one, and when it results from the negligence or reckless actions of another party, survivors deserve to be compensated. At Garmo & Garmo, LLP, we know that this is a difficult time for you, and we are committed to making the legal process as smooth and stress-free as possible. We handle all the complicated legal tasks related to your claim, so you can focus on putting your life back together.
For a free consultation and case evaluation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 619-736-3935 or message us through our web contact form. We handle wrongful death claims in San Diego, La Mesa, East County, and throughout Southern California.