Wrongful Death Lawyer - Moreno Valley

If you and your family are experiencing a devastating loss due to wrongful death, contact the compassionate legal team at Empire Accident Attorneys. Our experienced wrongful death attorneys have maintained a 99% success rate in helping surviving family members in the Moreno Valley area obtain the justice they deserve.

To learn more about our personal injury law firm and to schedule a free consultation, please contact us. When you are ready to begin discussing the event, we are here to provide support.

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What Is Considered a Wrongful Death?

In California, a wrongful death is any death that occurs due to someone else’s negligence. When this occurs, a wrongful death claim can be filed to seek compensation.

Wrongful death claims are civil lawsuits that surviving family members of the victim’s estate can file to compensate for financial and emotional distress. Common causes of most fatal accidents are:

  • Car accidents
  • Commercial truck accidents
  • Uber accidents
  • Lyft accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Bicycle accidents

The Statute of Limitations for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

This law sets a time limit on how long after an incident someone has to file a lawsuit. If the suit is not filed within the allotted timeframe, the case is dismissed.

In California, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years. This means that the wrongful death suit must be filed within two years of the date of the death. However, the discovery rule can extend the filing date if the wrongful death is discovered at a later time. 

Other factors may affect the filing period. For any questions about the statute of limitations, consult with an experienced Moreno Valley wrongful death attorney.

Who Can File Wrongful Death Claims in California?

This can vary based on areas of jurisdiction, but typically, family member eligibility is very limited. Individuals who can file a wrongful death claim include:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Registered domestic partners
  • Surviving children
  • Legal dependents (may vary)
  • Parents if the deceased was unmarried and had no children
  • A personal representative of the deceased's estate 

If there are no surviving spouses, children, or parents, other family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit, but they must prove that they were financially dependent on the deceased person.

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What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Case?

When a wrongful death lawsuit is filed, the intent is to compensate family members for any financial losses suffered as a result of the accident.

Successful wrongful death lawsuits can also secure a stable financial future for a surviving spouse and the surviving children. The economic damages and non-economic damages that can be recovered often include:

  • Medical bills that accumulated before the victim’s passing
  • Funeral expenses
  • Burial expenses
  • Loss of financial support
  • Emotional pain and suffering 
  • Loss of companionship

Punitive Damages

In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded to the plaintiff. This form of reward is meant to further punish the defendant for gross negligence and prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future. 

How Is Fault Proven in a Wrongful Death Case?

Similar to a personal injury case, fault is proven by indicating the defendant’s negligence caused the accident, resulting in the wrongful death. When it comes to proving negligence in a wrongful death lawsuit, the following four elements must be presented:

  1. Duty of care: a legal obligation to act in a reasonable manner and prevent harm to another person
  2. Breach of duty: failure to honor the duty of care due to reckless and careless actions 
  3. Causation: those reckless and careless actions caused or contributed to the wrongful death accident
  4. Damages: the wrongful death accident resulted in economic and/or non-economic losses

Each element must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that it is more likely than not that all of the elements are true. If all four elements of the wrongful death claim can be proven, economic, non-economic, and punitive damages may be recovered. 

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How Do I Know If I Have a Wrongful Death Claim?

If the four elements of negligence are present in a case, then a wrongful death claim can be filed by a legally eligible family member.  

Therefore, if the defendant was in a position to prevent the accident but failed to follow a standard of care that would have been followed by a reasonable person in the same situation, then he or she could be found guilty of negligence.

Additionally, if it can be proven that the defendant’s actions caused the wrongful death which resulted in economic damages or non-economic damages, then the plaintiff can be compensated for those losses. 

For example, a driver who speeds and fails to yield to a pedestrian who has the right-of-way is not driving in a safe manner and is more likely to cause a car accident. If this reckless behavior results in a fatal accident, the driver would be the cause, therein liable for damages. 

How Do I File a Wrongful Death Claim in Moreno Valley, California?

The process of filing a wrongful death claim can be complex and time-consuming. Therefore, it is important to consult with a Moreno Valley wrongful death attorney to discuss case specifics and to get assistance with the filing process. A general overview consists of the following steps.

  1. Identify the responsible party. Identify the at-fault person or entity. This could be a driver of a car or a business. The insurance company of the liable party will be responsible for paying back damages.
  2. Gather evidence. Physical proof must be obtained to support wrongful death claims. This can be medical records, police reports, photographs, and witness statements.
  3. Hire an attorney. An experienced Moreno Valley wrongful death lawyer can gather evidence, file a lawsuit, and negotiate a maximum settlement.
  4. File the lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed in specific counties. For instance, if the incident occurred in Moreno Valley, the suit should be filed in Riverside County. The lawsuit will typically include a complaint, a summons, and a petition for damages.
  5. Serve the defendant. The accused party will be served with a copy of the complaint and summons. This can be done by serving the party in person or by mail, but it must be proven that the defendant did receive the summons.
  6. Begin the discovery phase. During this period, both parties gather evidence and information about the case. This includes exchanging documents, taking depositions, and requesting medical records, indicating injuries were sustained.
  7. Proceed with mediation. Before going to trial, both parties will try to reach a settlement. A mediator, a neutral third party, will be present to help both parties negotiate a fair settlement.
  8. Take the case to trial. If a settlement cannot be reached, litigation begins, where a judge or jury will decide the outcome.
  9. Appeal the verdict. Parties not satisfied with the trial's outcome can appeal the decision. Then, the case will be reviewed by a higher court.
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How a Moreno Valley Wrongful Death Attorney Will Help

An attorney helps clients understand their legal rights and can represent them in court if the case goes to trial. A Moreno Valley wrongful death lawyer can assist families seek justice by:

  • Investigating the death: Conduct a thorough investigation to prove liability, which may involve interviewing witnesses, reviewing medical records, and obtaining police reports
  • Gathering vital evidence: Obtain difficult-to-obtain evidence, such as medical records, photographs of the accident scene, and witness testimonies
  • Negotiating for maximum compensation: Experience estimating accurate case values and settling them for their true worth, saving clients time and money
  • Going to trial: Legal representation in court if a settlement cannot be made 

In addition to these various roles, a compassionate Moreno Valley wrongful death lawyer will also provide emotional support and guidance during this difficult time, explaining the legal process, answering questions, and helping make informed decisions.

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Contact Empire Accident Attorneys

Empire Accident Attorneys is here to help surviving family members seek justice for their loved one's death. Our personal injury law firm offers:

  • Experience: Seasoned knowledge necessary to handle a case effectively and reach the best outcome
  • Resources: Access to resources that the average person may not have, such as personal investigators and other expert witnesses who can prove fault and damages
  • Negotiation skills: Skillfully prove why the other party is obligated to compensate the victim’s family
  • Trial experience: Representation in court with the ability to obtain maximum compensation

Hiring a Moreno wrongful death lawyer can be a daunting task, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. We understand the importance of holding the liable parties accountable. When you are ready to begin the claims process, please, schedule a free consultation to speak with a member of our legal team.