Losing a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence is an experience that can upend your life and lead to an uncertain future. Ultimately, no amount of compensation will ever bring your loved one back to you, but obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled can help you and your family on your journey toward healing.
If you lost a loved one in an accident, discuss your claim with an experienced Fontana wrongful death lawyer. At Attorney Jeff Injury Lawyers, our firm is committed to your family’s well-being during a difficult time. Reach out to our compassionate team of Fontana injury attorneys today.
Accidents that Cause Wrongful Deaths in Fontana
Nearly any kind of serious accident can lead to a wrongful death claim, but some of the most common varieties include the following:
- Every variety of traffic accident, including car, truck, motorcycle, bike, and pedestrian accidents
- Premises liability accidents, such as slips and falls from heights and dog maulings
- Serious accidents on the job
How Is Liability for a Wrongful Death Established?
Liability for wrongful death claims is established in much the same way that it is in personal injury claims, which means that the following four elements must be present:
- The at-fault party owed a duty of care to the decedent – or the person who lost their life. Duty of care refers to responsibility for the safety of someone else.
- The at-fault party failed to uphold the duty of care owed.
- This failure on the part of the at-fault party was the direct cause of the fatal accident.
- The survivors experienced losses addressed by the law – or legal damages – as a result.
In wrongful death claims, wrongdoing on the part of the at-fault party can take any of the following forms:
- Negligence, such as when a motorist is distracted, impaired, or exhausted
- Gross negligence, which refers to an extreme departure from what other reasonably careful people would do in relation to preventing harm under similar circumstances
- Recklessness, which refers to a deliberate disregard in relation to high risk
- An intentional wrongful act
Negligence in wrongful death claims is established in accordance with the evidence just like in personal injury claims. Evidence can come from:
- Eyewitness testimony
- Expert testimony
- Photos and videos that pertain to the accident, including dash cam footage in fatal traffic accidents
- Accident recreation models
- Physical evidence from the accident scene
- The police or accident report
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
In California, you have only two years from the date of your loved one’s death – not from the date of the accident that ultimately led to their death – to file your wrongful death claim.
It’s important to put this time constraint into careful perspective. The emotional upheaval that comes with losing a loved one to someone else’s negligence can be difficult to move past, and two years can slip by in a painful blur.
Failing to file your claim prior to this deadline can bar you from recovering your losses. It’s in your best interest to reach out soon after a fatal accident to start your claim.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In the State of California, only specific survivors of the decedent can file wrongful death claims, including:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse or registered domestic partner
- The decedent’s surviving child or children, including biological children, adopted children, and stepchildren – if there is no surviving spouse
- The decedent’s grandchildren – if there are no surviving children
- Any dependent minors living in the decedent’s household
- The decedent’s parents – if they were financially dependent on the decedent or if there is no surviving spouse or children
- Any other heirs of the decedent – if none of the above apply – in accordance with California’s laws of inheritance
If the decedent has none of the above survivors, the person who is their next of kin can file the wrongful death claim.
Compensation in Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death claims proceed much like personal injury claims. Because your loved one succumbed to the injuries they sustained, you – as the survivor – can seek compensation on their behalf.
It’s important to note that these losses are calculated in relation to either the decedent or the involved survivor’s life expectancy – whichever is shorter.
Further, life expectancy is a matter for the jury to determine – in relation to a wide range of variables that include:
- Overall health
- Relevant risk factors
The economic damages you can seek compensation for in your wrongful death claim include all the following:
- Ongoing financial support of your lost loved one, including the contributions they would have made over the course of their lifetime
- The reasonable value of the services your lost loved one would have provided you
- Gifts and benefits that you expected to receive from your lost loved one
- The cost of your lost loved one’s funeral and burial
Non-economic damages refer to those losses that cannot readily be assigned a value, but that are, nonetheless, considerable losses. Examples include:
- Society and companionship
- Moral support
- Guidance and training
California puts no limits – other than requiring a reasonable determination that is predicated on the available evidence – on non-economic damages, and it only recently added pain and suffering to survivors’ compensable losses.
Learn More About Filing for Wrongful Death
At Attorney Jeff Injury Lawyers, our compassionate Fontana wrongful death attorneys dedicate their practice to valued clients like you. We are humbled by your decision to rely on us to advocate for your family. Begin your wrongful death claim by contacting us online or calling us at 888-970-5729 today.
Wrongful Death Claim FAQs
Will my pain and suffering be considered in my wrongful death claim?
Yes, you can seek compensation for your emotional losses in your wrongful death claim.
How can I protect my claim?
You should work closely with a seasoned attorney, leave the communication with the insurance company to your attorney, follow your doctor’s orders carefully, and take a break from social media.
Will I have to pay before my claim settles?
No, your attorney will receive a prearranged percentage of your settlement only after the matter has been successfully resolved.