Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Almost anyone who has ever lost a close loved one in an accident will very plainly state that there’s no amount of money they wouldn’t trade to have their loved one back. Nevertheless, wrongful death civil lawsuits that seek monetary compensation serve a very important purpose for the family members left behind. Your loved one was priceless, but you still have to pay many expenses – like funeral and final expense costs, along with the medical bills your deceased loved one racked up in that final accident – and those payments require money.

Additionally, there’s the income that your loved one brought in. Your loved one may have been a primary earner, or even a sole earner, for your family. The loss of his/her loss income may represent a severe and immediate financial crisis for your family. A successful wrongful death case can help you reduce that financial emergency. To make sure that you are getting the total amount of compensation that you and your family deserve, be sure to reach out to an experienced San Mateo wrongful death attorney about your case.

Wrongful death cases can be challenging ones for juries because, at some level, they require the jury to take a profound, and in some ways incalculable, loss and convert it to an exact dollar figure. That means that you may face, if you and your family take on a wrongful death case, a defense that argues that, because your loved one earned a modest income, the damages amount of his/her loss should be set at a low number. That was what one Fresno-area widow faced recently in her case, according to the Fresno Bee.

For many people who undertake civil lawsuits after they’ve lost a loved one due to another’s negligence or misconduct, the lawsuit is an important means to an essential end. The deceased may have been a primary, or even sole, income provider for an entire family, and a civil judgment or settlement may be necessary to pay outstanding medical bills and final expenses, as well as to avoid a financial crisis from the loss of the deceased’s earnings.

Sometimes, though, the money from a judgment or settlement isn’t as much of a need. Whether it is due to insurance payouts or other financial reasons, the deceased’s death, while undeniably taking an incalculable emotional toll, may not have created as much of a financial hardship. Even in that latter scenario, there may be very important reasons for undertaking a civil lawsuit and seeing it through to a judgment. Whether it is seeking closure, seeing justice done or some other reason, these reasons are just as valid, require just as much diligence, and are cases just as much in need of a thoughtful and experienced San Mateo wrongful death attorney as any other.

There are cynics among us who say, “Even when they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.” Here’s a case, reported by keyt.com, that disproves that notion. The victim in the case was a popular Southern California assistant principal, who was out jogging when he was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver, who was reportedly high on Xanax and marijuana at the time.

Sometimes, the crux of your case will be focused primarily on establishing that the defendant was at fault and is liable for paying you compensation. The defense may contest liability aggressively, arguing that someone else (or no one) was to blame for the injuries. Other times, you may have evidence that makes contesting liability very difficult or nearly impossible and, in some of those cases, the defense may even admit liability.

Even when that happens, your work is not yet done, especially in a wrongful death case. Getting a truly proper judgment means putting on the evidence you need to show just how extensive the loss you suffered truly was. If you’ve lost a loved one due to a driver’s negligent conduct, you have, first and foremost, a hole in your heart and hole in your life that nothing can fill. You probably also have substantial damage to your family’s financial situation, however, especially if your deceased loved one was a primary earner. All of these damages are real and deserve to be compensated. Be sure you take on your case with the aid and representation of a skilled San Mateo wrongful death attorney to get the full award you deserve.

C.P.’s was an example of a case with a tragic loss and a very large jury verdict. As reported by the Ventura County Star, C.P. was jogging along a street in Ventura as part of his training for a marathon race. As C.P. jogged, a driver, S.C., struck him with her vehicle, killing him. The driver had consumed both Xanax and marijuana prior to getting behind the wheel, according to the report.

The headlines, regrettably, are numerous and gut-wrenching and, just as bad, they just seem to keep coming. In mid-March, a 70-year-old woman from Newark died in Fremont. The compact sedan in which she was a passenger was hit by an allegedly drunk driver behind the wheel of a minivan. Also in mid-March, a driver allegedly drove drunk, blew through a red light in Sacramento County and slammed into a compact sedan, killing a 9-year-old boy and injuring his mother. In early March, a Sacramento man received a 125-year sentence for his role in an East Bay crash that left two brothers and their respective teenage sons all dead.

These accidents are horrifying and, in many cases, the criminal legal system punishes the wrongdoers. However, what about the loved ones left behind? What about the losses that they have incurred as a result of these terrible acts? While, without question, no amount of cash settlement or damages award can ever take the place of the love and companionship of a lost family member or someone else dear to your heart, that undeniable truth in no way diminishes another unavoidable fact: the misconduct of these drivers inflicts serious harm on their victims’ families, that much of that harm is financial in nature and the families should be entitled to seek compensation in court for those losses.

There are two ways that a surviving loved one can go about pursuing a civil claim for damages. If the drunk driver was convicted of driving while intoxicated, then that criminal case history helps your civil case. You can pursue your case as a negligence per se action. That means that the defendant violated a statute or regulation, that the violation caused the harm you’ve alleged and that the harm resulted from the defendant’s particular conduct in engaging in actions that the law was designed to prevent. As you can see, if the drunk driver who killed your loved one has been convicted of both driving while intoxicated and drunk-driving-related homicide, then that criminal case gives you most all the proof you need for liability in this type of case.

Certainly, everyone hopes to have a trial that is both free from problems and one that arrives at a successful outcome. You want your trial to end with a “winning” result, one that won’t be overturned later. Unfortunately, the system is not perfect and mistakes can occur in jury trials because they depend upon imperfect human jurors. One of the essential things in managing any personal injury case, and one in which an experienced California injury attorney can help, is being sure that you respond to those unexpected “wrinkles” in the right way. If you’ve lost a loved one in an accident in Northern California, you should be sure to retain an experienced California wrongful death attorney to handle your case and provide the representation your family needs.

One recent case with such an unexpected element was brought by V.T., a widow. V.T.’s husband was killed in a tragic accident involving a tractor and a pickup truck. The husband, while trying to repair the tractor, became pinned between that vehicle and the truck. The accident killed him.

V.T. and her four daughters sued several individuals and entities for wrongful death. The case went to trial and the jury awarded a total of $670,000. However, because the jury awarded no damages to the man’s two adult daughters, the appeals court later threw out the damages award and ordered a new trial on damages. After the second trial on damages, a jury awarded a total of $9.4 million. That figure was cut in half because the first had found that the deceased man was 50% at fault for the accident.

When you experience the loss of a loved one due to an accident, it is inherently tragic and horrifying. If that accident occurred due to someone else’s negligence, there may be many things that you find yourself facing. In addition to personal and family issues, there could also be legal issues. The loss of your loved one undoubtedly left a hole in your heart, but it may also have left a hole in the financial well-being of your family. To make sure your family is protected in terms of your legal rights, be sure to retain a skilled California wrongful death attorney to handle your case.

Succeeding in a wrongful death case involves several different types of proof. For example, take the lawsuit pursued by the family of a San Francisco jogger killed by a bus. Lori was out for an early morning jog in November 2014 when, according to witness testimony, she jogged across a city intersection with the light. As she crossed, a Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District bus turned left, and the two collided. Lori died roughly an hour later.

To succeed in a wrongful death case like this, you need evidence that shows that the person or entity you sued was at fault. In Lori’s family’s case, they had eyewitness testimony that Lori jogged across the street with a white “walk” signal in her favor. That indicated that Lori had the right of way and that the driver improperly failed to yield.

While there is no amount of money that can replace the loss of the life of a parent and spouse, that truth does not change the fact that the premature death of a primary breadwinner creates a massive financial difficulty for the family he or she leaves behind. That is why it is important to protect your family through promptly pursued wrongful death litigation when such an event occurs. If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone’s negligence, you should reach out right away to a knowledgeable California wrongful death attorney to discuss your options and opportunities to pursue an appropriate recovery.

Successfully pursuing a wrongful death case can involve many essential steps and techniques. Take, as an example, a case recently before the Court of Appeal. 31-year-old Pablo was a migrant agricultural worker who was working at an orchard in Riverside County when his 20-foot aluminum ladder came into contact with a power line. The low-hanging, high-voltage line surged 12,000 volts of electricity through Pablo’s body, killing him.

The worker’s estate sued the electric utility for wrongful death. The estate’s case was that the high-voltage electrical wires were too low, and, if they had been at an appropriate height, the fatal accident would not have occurred. The estate’s case contended that applicable regulations required the wires to be at least 25 feet off the ground, but the wire that killed Pablo was only approximately 18’ 10” off the ground.

Sometimes, even cases that are factually very different from your own can still be very helpful and instructive. For example, it might seem like a wrongful death case stemming from a house fire has little in common with a vehicle or pedestrian accident case, but that isn’t necessarily true. One recent California wrongful death case contained important information about a certain type of statutory case settlement offers, which occur in many types of injury lawsuits, and how they work when there are multiple plaintiffs (which can also happen with some frequency in vehicle accident cases). Whether your personal injury case involves just you and one defendant, or it involves multiple parties, make sure that you are equipped for all possible litigation scenarios by retaining experienced injury counsel for your case.

A recent case from Los Angeles County involved the use of these statutory settlement offers. The case arose out of a tragic accident in Southern California. A house fire in Hacienda Heights left one man, Juan, seriously burned but killed his wife, Virginia, and his three-year-old son. The rented home that the family shared allegedly had no working smoke detectors, which led to a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the two dead victims.

In wrongful death lawsuits like this, the deceased person’s legal heirs have what’s called legal “standing” to sue (which means that the law gives them the right to bring an action). In this case, the boy was the biological child of Juan and another woman, which meant that the boy and Virginia had two different sets of legal heirs (although Juan was part of both groups). Each set sued the owners of the house in the wrongful death action.

In what may have been the largest ever judgment in a case involving a wrongful death of a minor in California, a jury in Compton recently awarded the parents of a Manhattan Beach teen $26 million after the boy died aboard a sightseeing bus, according to The Beach Reporter. The damages award was the culmination of a case finding liable both the bus company and the parents who rented the bus as part of their daughter’s birthday party.

Continue reading ›

A tragic fire at an Oakland warehouse on December 3, 2016 has killed more than 30 people that were attending a concert.  The Oakland Fire Department continues to recover bodies and it is feared that the number of deaths could increase to as many as 40 to 50.

The property where the fire occurred was a warehouse, known as Oakland Ghost Ship, that neighbors claim had been converted to a place where artists lived and worked.  However, the City had not permitted the building for residential use or for use as a concert venue.  The concert, Golden Dorma 100% silk 2016 West Coast Tour, was advertised online, including a concert Facebook page.  A local resident stated that the warehouse is known by locals as the site for rave-style concerts.  Shockingly, it has been reported that sprinklers or fire alarms had not been installed in the building.  A spokesperson for the building owner claims that the owner did not know that people were living at the building or that it was being used for concerts and parties.

Some local residents have described the building as a tinderbox where tragedy was waiting to happen. Former residents of the building reported that they saw artists using butane torches, water being heated with propane, and sparking electrical wires.  The building was divided into a number of different sections that had been decorated with curtains and other fabrics.  The interior and exterior of the building was littered with debris that has been described as kindling.  The interior stairs consisted of wooden pallets that made it difficult to escape the inferno.  Most people died on the second floor where the concert took place.  It is inexcusable that the City of Oakland and the property owner allowed such a deathtrap to exist.