Riverside Wrongful Death Attorneys
The Riverside wrongful death lawyers at Ochoa & Calderón have years of experience helping accident victims and their families hold negligent defendants liable for the devastation their actions have caused. If your loved one was killed in an accident or by the deliberate act of a malicious party, you and your family may have a wrongful death claim. While nothing can fill the hole left by the sudden departure of a family member, holding the responsible parties liable can provide a measure of closure, as well as financial relief for the economic harm the loss of a loved one can cause. Our Southern California wrongful death legal team is ready to help you and your family get the justice, and the compensation, that you deserve.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is much like a personal injury claim, except that the victim in question has passed away. Depending on the law of the state, the claim may either be brought on behalf of the deceased victim, on behalf of the surviving family members, or both. In California, a wrongful death claim may be brought when a victim has died due to the negligence or intentional act of another party.
Wrongful death claims are separate from criminal prosecution. A drunk driver, for example, may be arrested and prosecuted for manslaughter and other crimes after a fatal accident. Whether that criminal case proceeds, and whether it is successful, is entirely separate from whether they may be liable for damages in a civil wrongful death case. A criminal conviction can help a wrongful death claim by serving as proof that the defendant committed the act and caused the victim’s death, but even if the criminal case is dropped, the victim’s family can still sue for damages. Whereas criminal guilt must be established “beyond a reasonable doubt,” civil plaintiffs need only establish the defendant’s liability “by a preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that it is more likely than not that the defendant caused the victim’s death and should be held accountable.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Suit?
Wrongful death is a complex area of law, particularly because every state has its own rules regarding wrongful death claims. In some states, wrongful death claims can only be brought by a representative for the estate of the deceased victim, seeking damages the victim would have been able to recover had they survived. In other states, family members of the victim can bring wrongful death claims on their own behalf. If your loved one has been killed in an accident in Southern California, make sure you work with a knowledgeable and effective wrongful death attorney who understands the nuances of wrongful death and personal injury law based on your jurisdiction.
Under California’s wrongful death statute, a wrongful death claim may be brought by the following parties:
- The victim’s surviving spouse or domestic partner
- The victim’s surviving children
- The victim’s surviving grandchildren of any deceased children
If no such parties are available, then a wrongful death claim may be brought by anyone “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession,” including parents, siblings, and other family members. Additional parties who were financially dependent upon the victim may also have a claim.
In addition to the wrongful death claim, a representative for the estate or the decedent’s successor in interest may bring a survivor’s claim seeking damages that the decedent would have been able to collect had they survived. Talk to an experienced California wrongful death attorney to find out if you might have a claim after your loved one’s passing.
What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
“Damages” refer to the losses claimed by the plaintiffs in a given case. Damages differ depending on the nature of the case and the relationship between the plaintiff and the victim. In a wrongful death case, the plaintiffs can seek the following damages:
- Financial support the decedent would have contributed to the family
- Loss of gifts or benefits the family or family member would have expected to receive from the decedent
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The reasonable value of household services the decedent would have performed
- Emotional harm caused by the loss of intimacy of a partner, the loss of love and companionship of a family member, or the loss of guidance of a parental figure
An experienced California wrongful death attorney can walk you through what damages you and your family may be able to claim, and how you can maximize your available recovery.
Call a Riverside Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If your loved one has been killed in a traffic accident, slip and fall, or otherwise due to someone’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing, the Southern California wrongful death legal team at Ochoa & Calderón is ready to help. We’ve spent decades helping accident victims and their families seek justice and compensation for the harms they have suffered. Call Ochoa & Calderón for a free consultation on your potential wrongful death claims. We only charge a fee after we are successful in recovering compensation for you. Your success is our success, and no recovery means no fee.