Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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.

When you’ve suffered harm as a result of someone else’s negligence, there are many important hurdles that you and your legal counsel must clear to obtain the compensation you deserve. You have to collect all of the factual evidence you need, navigate all of the required procedural steps, and then, at trial, put on your case and thwart all of the defenses the other side will offer. In a case from earlier this year, juryveridctalert.com reported that a San Bernardino County jury imposed $3.5 million in damages against a negligent driver who crashed head-on into a mom’s SUV, injuring her and killing her 16-year-old daughter. The parents succeeded in part because they successfully countered the at-fault driver’s defense that she was not liable due to a “sudden emergency.”

Continue Reading

When you get behind the wheel of a vehicle, there are several people or entities who owe you a legal duty. Other drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles safely. If they don’t, and their negligence injures you, you can sue them for the harm you suffered. Additionally, governments have a duty to maintain the roads and intersections they control in a safe condition. In one recent case from Southern California, the Los Angeles Times reported on a case in which the City of Los Angeles’ failure to maintain an intersection in a safe condition, instead allowing unlimited parking to create a “blind” corner, triggered a $23 million verdict in favor of the family of a scientist killed at that intersection.

Continue Reading

A recent ruling by the First District Court of Appeal offered a useful insight into what happens when you’re a victim of an unfair strategy by your litigation opponent. The decision upheld a lower court’s order giving the family of a deceased trucker a renewed opportunity to pursue their case arising from the fiery crash that killed their loved one. The state’s Department of Transportation carried out a pretrial and trial strategy that unfairly surprised and prejudiced the trucker’s family, and when that happens, you have certain rights, such as the right to a new trial, which the court awarded to the family in this case.

Continue Reading

In a victory for the plaintiffs, the California Court of Appeal for the Second District reversed an order by a lower court that had sustained a demurrer by the defendants in a wrongful death action. In the case, the plaintiffs brought suit against several defendants after their father was fatally injured in a construction accident. Their suit included a negligence claim against the property owners that hired the independent contractor employing their father to repair a damaged concrete wall on the premises. The plaintiffs alleged that by providing a forklift and entering into an agreement, the defendants owed a duty of care to the victim to provide a safe means by which he could complete the work. However, the trial court sustained the defendants’ demurrers, finding that it was the obligation of the victim’s employer, rather than the defendants, to provide a safe work environment.

In California, the Workers’ Compensation Act provides the exclusive remedy against an employer for the injury or death of an employee. Generally, when an employee of an independent contractor hired to do dangerous work suffers a work-related injury, the employee is limited to recovery under the workers’ compensation system. However, the employee of an independent contractor is not barred from all recovery against the person who hired the contractor. The hirer may be liable to an employee of a contractor insofar as a hirer’s exercise of retained control affirmatively contributed to the employee’s injuries, or insofar as the provision of unsafe equipment affirmatively contributes to the employee’s injury. For example, if the hirer promises to undertake a particular safety measure, the hirer’s negligent failure to do so will generally result in liability if such negligence leads to an employee injury.

Continue Reading