Bakersfield Wrongful Death Lawyer
Was Your Loved One Killed By a Wrongful Act?
There is no greater tragedy in life than losing a loved one suddenly and unexpectedly. Sadly, thousands of Americans die in motor vehicle accidents and workplace accidents every year. Some of these accidents are truly accidental and unavoidable. Others are caused by the negligence and recklessness of another person or entity.
If your loved one was killed by someone else’s wrongdoing, you may have a legitimate wrongful death case. The experienced Bakersfield wrongful death lawyers at Horizon Accident Lawyers will help you through this difficult time and obtain justice for your deceased loved one. Our legal team is here 24/7 to talk to you in a confidential free consultation. Contact us for an initial consultation to begin the healing process.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death is defined as the death of a person due to the negligence or recklessness of another person. Although there can be criminal implications, a wrongful death claim is a civil claim. It does not result in criminal charges or other forms of punishment.
Every state has different laws surrounding wrongful death claims. Generally speaking, only close surviving family members or the spouse can file a wrongful death claim. The purpose of a claim is to seek compensation for those who have suffered harm due to the death. Our wrongful death attorney can help you seek the maximum compensation for your losses, such as funeral expenses, medical bills, lost income, loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.
How Horizon Accident Lawyers Can Help You Seek Justice
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit requires extensive knowledge of local and state laws, as well as the ability to prove the liability and damages of the responsible parties. It is a complex and challenging process, especially when you are grieving the loss of a loved one.
This is why you should consider hiring a qualified and experienced wrongful death attorney. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights, conduct a thorough investigation, gather evidence, and negotiate with the insurance company. They can also represent you in court if a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiations.
At Horizon Accident Lawyers, we have successfully recovered millions of dollars in settlements for injured victims of auto accidents and workers’ compensation in Kern County. Our wrongful death attorneys will ensure you receive maximum compensation from the responsible party. To discuss your legal options, contact us by phone or through our online contact form.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?
Under California’s wrongful death statute, the following people may file a wrongful death claim, in order of priority:
- The deceased’s surviving spouse or domestic partner
- The deceased’s surviving children
- If the deceased has no surviving spouse, domestic partner, or children, then anyone who would be entitled to inherit the deceased’s property by intestate succession. This includes the deceased’s parents, siblings, or grandparents
- The deceased’s putative spouse or children of the putative spouse, if they can prove that they had a good faith belief that they were legally married to the deceased
- Any minor who lived with the deceased for at least 180 days before the death and was financially dependent on the deceased for at least 50% of their support
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by any of the above parties, or by a personal representative of the deceased’s estate on behalf of the above parties.
Statute of Limitations
California sets time limits for filing wrongful death lawsuits. All personal injury lawsuits must be filed within two years from the deceased’s date of death or within six months of the date of the appointment of a personal representative, whichever is later.
Once the statute of limitations runs out, it is highly unlikely that a wrongful death lawsuit will still be valid. Speak to our Bakersfield wrongful death lawyers as soon as possible to retain your right to recover financial damages.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Wrongful death arises from situations where a person dies due to the negligence or misconduct of another party. Medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, and workplace accidents are some of the most common causes of wrongful death in the U.S.
We represent the following types of wrongful death cases at our California law firm:
Car accidents are ubiquitous in California and one of the leading causes of wrongful death. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), traffic fatalities increased more than 7% in one year, from 3,980 in 2020 to 4,285 in 2021. Car accidents can be caused by various factors, such as speeding, drunk or drugged driving, distracted driving, and poor visibility. Car accident victims can be drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, or other road users.
In 2021, 565 motorcyclists died in fatal crashes in California. Helmet use plays a large factor in motorcycle fatalities, as motorcyclists have little to no protection on the road from other vehicles and the elements. If the accident was caused by a negligent driver or a road hazard, the surviving family may sue for damages.
Large trucks, such as semi-trucks and delivery trucks, are involved in accidents daily. Due to their enormous size and weight, a truck rollover accident or a jackknife accident can cause devastating injuries or death to drivers and passengers of smaller vehicles.
Driver fatigue, speeding, overloading, brake failure, and blind spots can all play a role in truck accident fatalities.
Workers in certain industries, such as construction, mining, manufacturing, or agriculture, are exposed to various hazards that can result in fatal injuries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 5,190 workers died from occupational injuries in 2021.
Workplace accidents can result from falls, electrocutions, explosions, fires, machinery malfunctions, or exposure to toxic substances.
California has one of the highest number of bicycle fatalities, especially in urban areas like Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and San Jose. Bicyclists must share the road with other vehicles, who may speed, weave in and out of traffic, or make illegal turns.
Due to a bicyclist’s low profile, a driver may hit a bicyclist and cause serious injuries or death. According to the CDC, adults ages 55-69 have the highest bicycle death rates.
The number of pedestrian deaths reached a 40-year high in 2022, with more than 7,500 fatalities. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the increase of pedestrian fatalities can be linked to unsafe infrastructure, including a lack of sidewalks, and the prevalence of SUVs, which cause more serious injuries than smaller cars. Southern California’s mild climate attracts many people to walk for leisure or transportation, but it also increases the risk of accidents involving pedestrians.
Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim
While no amount of compensation can bring your loved one back, receiving compensatory damages for your loss can help you move forward. A loved one’s death can have an immense effect on your entire family, causing emotional trauma and financial challenges.
The Bakersfield wrongful death attorneys at Horizon Accident Lawyers can help you recover the following types of economic and non-economic damages in a California wrongful death claim:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Financial support that the deceased would have provided, including lost wages
- Estimated value of benefits or gifts
- Loss of companionship, care, love, affection, protection, and emotional support
- Loss of training and guidance
The amount of financial compensation you will receive depends on various factors. Such factors include the age, health, and income of the deceased, as well as the other party’s insurance policy limits. The skill of your lawyer will also come into play. Our Bakersfield wrongful death attorneys have years of experience representing and settling wrongful death cases.
How to Prove Liability in a Wrongful Death Claim
In order to bring forth a wrongful death claim on behalf of your family member, you must be able to prove the following four elements:
1. Duty of Care
Generally speaking, people have a duty to refrain from negligent behavior. For example, an employer has a duty to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees, and to prevent any foreseeable harm or injury to them. If an employer fails to fulfill this duty, the employer may be liable for negligence.
In addition to proving the defendant held a duty of care, the plaintiff must also prove that they breached their duty of care. If your loved one was killed in a motor vehicle accident, you must show that the other driver had a duty to drive safely but breached that duty by speeding, drunk driving, running a red light, etc.
The decedent’s surviving family members must also show a direct correlation between the defendant’s negligent or intentional actions and the death. If the defendant is found at fault for the death, then they are liable for the damages that the victim suffered.
Finally, the plaintiff must prove that they have suffered financial and non-financial damages from their loved one’s death, such as medical bills, lost financial support, and burial costs.
Contact a Bakersfield Wrongful Death Attorney
At Horizon Accident Lawyers, we understand the emotional toll of the loss of a family member. We also know the financial burden and legal challenges that can arise from a wrongful death case. That’s why our Kern County personal injury law firm is committed to helping you seek justice and compensation for your losses.
With our compassionate legal support, you can recover a fair settlement that reflects the full spectrum of your losses. Our law firm works on a contingency basis, meaning we do not collect attorney fees unless and until we win your case. Call our wrongful death lawyers today to schedule a free consultation with our team. We are available 24/7.