Wrongful Death

Can You File a Wrongful Death Claim in Cases of Workplace Violence?

by Staff Blogger | February 7th, 2024

The families of victims of violence at their workplaces can sometimes file wrongful death claims against the perpetrators of these horrific crimes. Families may also pursue legal action against their deceased loved ones’ employers because the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers set and enforce regulations to protect workers from acts of violence.

However, bringing legal action against an employer without the help of a lawyer is not a good idea. The employer is likely to hire a reputable attorney or a team of attorneys to do everything possible to deny your claim. By seeking legal representation to assist you, you give yourself the best chance of receiving the most compensation. If you live in the Modesto area, getting an experienced Modesto personal injury lawyer to establish a solid case on your behalf can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.

This article will answer some common questions that weigh on victims and their families’ minds after fatal attacks or violent altercations at work.

What Is Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death claim is a civil case brought against a party who negligently or intentionally causes death.

Wrongful death claims differ from criminal offense cases because the state does not punish the offender. Instead, the victims’ family members and other affected parties must file wrongful death cases to receive financial compensation for their losses.

Can the Family of the Deceased File a Wrongful Death in Cases of Workplace Violence?

According to OSHA, workplace violence is “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening behavior that occurs at work.” The facts in each claim are different and depend on the specifics of the incident.

There are instances when going after an employer for an employee’s death may seem the most obvious pathway to compensation, i.e., if the death occurred due to exposure to harmful chemicals, explosions, fires, etc.

Unless the employer is the attacker, wrongful deaths resulting from workplace violence can be complicated to pursue. The employer may argue that they could never have predicted or prevented the violent event.

Family members are left to deal with grief and both financial and emotional damages. Who should be held accountable for workplace violence-related deaths? Let’s review California’s laws regarding wrongful deaths.

Code of Civil Procedure – CCP § 377.60 stipulates that a spouse, child, or other eligible dependent can file a wrongful death claim for losses caused by another’s accidental or intentional actions. This law means you have a right to pursue damages provided you can prove the defendant’s fault in the death.

Let us find out who the defendant can be in California.

Who Is to Blame for Workplace Violence in Modesto, California?

Going after the right person in a wrongful death case is the only way to receive compensation. The responsible party could be anyone, including the perpetrator or a third party.

The Perpetrator

The most prominent party to pursue is the perpetrator. The government will likely open a criminal case against an attacker who kills someone. As mentioned, such lawsuits will not order compensation for the surviving relatives’ loss. It will only punish the offender, likely through imprisonment.

A wrongful death lawyer can help families evaluate whether it makes financial sense to go after a perpetrator. They want to determine if the defendant has assets to cover the victim’s losses.

The Employer 

Although employers may argue that they had nothing to do with violent attacks, an attorney can prove that they were aware of the danger but failed to act.

Employers should establish and enforce clear workplace regulations to lower the risks of violence. OSHA also suggests that employers demonstrate a zero-tolerance response to office violence. Employers must act if they believe that something or someone poses a threat to their employees.

Consequently, if an employer fails to address concerns of violence and harassment at the workplace immediately, they may be accountable for future incidents. Negligent security measures could be counted among these failures.

A Third Party

Your attorney may find that someone other than the employer was to blame for the death.

Suppose the employer put measures in place to secure the premises, but a security guard fails to do their job. In such cases, the employer can pass accountability on to the security firm.

How Can a Modesto Wrongful Death Lawyer Help? 

Knowing who is to blame in situations of workplace violence can prove challenging. A wrongful death lawyer can assist with identifying at-fault parties.

Wrongful death claims are inherently personal. The victim’s relatives may be re-traumatized by repeatedly discussing the specifics of their loved ones’ death during negotiations with the defendant. A lawyer takes over this communication with the defendant, sparing the family additional stress.

Because lawyers are used to the complexities of wrongful death claims, they can navigate the system for the best outcome possible.

Following a wrongful death, families may be apprehensive about pursuing compensation. They may worry that they will not succeed in defending their rights.

However, with the help of an experienced attorney, victims’ loved ones can file wrongful death claims and win. At Berg Injury Lawyers, you only pay us if your case is successful. Contact us today for your free, no-obligation consultation.

How Expert Witnesses Can Impact Wrongful Death Cases

by Staff Blogger | January 22nd, 2024

Wrongful death cases are complex legal matters that rely on subtle details and thorough legal arguments. These cases arise when a person’s death is caused by the negligence or misconduct of another party, leaving the bereaved family seeking justice and compensation for their loss.

In this emotionally and legally challenging situation, expert witnesses can offer specialized insights that influence the outcome of your case. Their testimony often clarifies complex issues and helps establish liability, causation, and damages.

Our California wrongful death attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers can use expert witness testimony to support your wrongful death claim and help you receive compensation for the death of your loved one.

What Is a Wrongful Death Case?

A wrongful death case is a legal action taken by the survivors of an individual who has died due to the wrongful act, negligence, or misconduct of another. These cases originate from various incidents, including medical malpractice, car accidents, workplace accidents, or slip and fall injuries.

They allow the family to receive compensation for funeral expenses, loss of companionship or guidance, and medical costs related to the decedent’s care.

The complexity of these cases often lies in proving that the defendant’s actions caused the death and determining the appropriate compensation for the survivors’ loss. Expert witnesses help establish these connections by reviewing evidence and offering insights based on their training, background, and experience in their field.

Types of Expert Witnesses

In wrongful death cases, several types of expert witnesses may be called upon to provide their specialized knowledge. These experts help construct a comprehensive understanding of the incident, contributing to a stronger case for the plaintiff or a solid defense for the accused.

  • Medical experts: Medical experts are often essential in wrongful death cases, especially those involving medical malpractice or complicated health-related issues. These experts provide insights into whether proper medical standards were followed and if negligence contributed to the death. They help establish a clear link between the defendant’s actions and the death.
  • Accident reconstruction specialists: In car accidents or workplace incidents, accident reconstruction specialists use their expertise to recreate the circumstances of the incident. They often use physical evidence and scientific principles to determine the cause and sequence of events leading to the fatality.
  • Forensic pathologists: Forensic pathologists help determine the exact cause of death. Their analysis can identify whether the death was a direct result of the defendant’s actions or if other factors were involved. This testimony establishes a causal link between the defendant’s actions and the death.
  • Economists: Economists are often called upon to assess the financial impact of the death on the surviving family members. They calculate the loss of income, benefits, and other financial contributions the deceased would have provided based on numerical data from employment or tax records. This helps determine the appropriate amount of compensation for the family.

Selecting and Qualifying Expert Witnesses

The plaintiff and defendant are responsible for selecting and qualifying expert witnesses in legal proceedings. The qualification process includes guidelines in California Evidence Code 720:

  • Assessing the expert’s educational background and area of specialization
  • Evaluating their professional experience and practical expertise
  • Examining any previous publications or research contributions
  • Reviewing their history of prior testimony or legal involvement

Once an expert is qualified, the approach to presenting their testimony varies between plaintiffs and defendants. Plaintiffs often leverage expert testimony to solidify the foundational aspects of their case, like demonstrating causation or quantifying damages. This is done by gathering the expert’s detailed analysis to reinforce their arguments in a deposition or live testimony.

Defendants frequently engage expert witnesses to challenge or debunk the plaintiff’s assertions. Their focus might be on questioning the accuracy or methodology of the plaintiff’s expert findings, offering different interpretations or conclusions.

The impact of expert testimony often depends on the expert’s skill in clearly and effectively communicating complex concepts. Effective expert witnesses combine easy-to-understand presentation skills with in-depth technical expertise.

Real-Life Wrongful Death Case Examples

The following case examples demonstrate the impact of expert testimony on the outcome of a wrongful death lawsuit. They provide insight into various scenarios where the involvement of expert witnesses played a pivotal role.

Nicholas S. Cohen v. Lake Worth Enterprise, LLC et al.

In this case, the expert witnesses helped determine a favorable outcome for the deceased’s family. The plaintiff’s experts in urology and nursing testified that Michelle Cohen’s death from complications related to a urinary tract infection could have been prevented with earlier treatment.

They argued that the nursing staff at Oasis Health and Rehabilitation Center failed to investigate and treat her symptoms properly, leading to her death. The defense’s geriatrics expert argued the facility acted appropriately.

Ultimately, the jury sided with the plaintiff, awarding $1,758,230 in damages, thanks to the expert’s testimony highlighting the negligence in Cohen’s care and treatment.

Kelli A. Andrews v. Jeffrey Gelfand, M.D. et al.

In this wrongful death case, expert testimony was crucial in securing a $1.9 million verdict for the plaintiffs. The case centered on Dr. Gelfand’s failure to diagnose and treat William Andrews for deep vein thrombosis, leading to his death from a pulmonary embolism.

The plaintiff’s experts in critical care, orthopedic surgery, and internal medicine, along with an economics expert, provided key insights into Mr. Andrews’ medical condition and the financial impact of his death. These experts argued that proper risk assessment and treatment could have prevented the fatal embolism.

Despite a mistrial in the first trial, the retrial resulted in a unanimous jury verdict favoring the plaintiffs. This was influenced by the compelling arguments and evidence presented by their expert witnesses.

Expert Testimony: A Decisive Factor in Wrongful Death Case Verdicts

In wrongful death cases, expert witnesses are more than just informative voices; they are crucial contributors to the pursuit of justice and compensation. Their testimonies provide the technical base needed to support or challenge the key elements of these complex and emotionally charged cases.

If you’ve recently lost a loved one due to another’s negligence, contact our wrongful death attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyer today. We can meet with you during a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case.

How Can Wrongful Death Compensation Be Pursued After a Fatal Carnival Ride Malfunction?

by Staff Blogger | October 6th, 2023

Amusement park safety measures are crucial to avoiding accidents, and proper implementation requires cooperation between the park staff and their visitors. The park must follow all laws and regulations established by the federal, state, and local governments. Even with all legal requirements met, devastating carnival ride accidents still happen, leading to serious injuries and wrongful death cases. In the tragic event of a wrongful death, California amusement park guests and their families deserve an experienced personal injury law firm to stand up for their rights.

Read further in our blog post to learn more about common causes of carnival ride accidents, wrongful death claims, and how carnival ride fatalities are handled legally in California.

Understanding Wrongful Death Claims After a Ride Malfunctions

If a person dies in an amusement park accident, their family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. Some damages that can be recovered are:

  • Funeral costs
  • Medical bills associated with the care of the victim
  • Lost support income for family and dependents

Common Causes of Tragic Amusement Park Ride Accidents

If you or your loved one was involved in a tragic ride malfunction, it’s essential to understand these potential causes:

  • Most amusement park accidents result from human error or negligence, such as operator errors, poor ride maintenance, and visitor conduct.
  • Occasionally, an employee’s disregard for safety protocols might result in accidents, which are the employer’s responsibility.
  • The ride manufacturer may be responsible if a mechanical issue caused the accident.

Family and friends of someone lost to such a devasting accident should never try to navigate the process around a wrongful death case on their own. An experienced California wrongful death lawyer can deal with the legal ins and outs, negotiate with insurance companies, and more. Those left grieving should do just that: grieve while a trusted lawyer handles all the details around the case.

Steps to Take Immediately After a Carnival Ride Injury

The following actions should be taken right away if a carnival ride injury occurs:

Immediately Seek Medical Help

The first thing to do if you or someone you know has been hurt on a carnival ride is to get help immediately. Even if the injury looks small, you must consult a doctor to ensure you receive treatment for any injuries that could worsen over time. If you are with a loved one who is unconscious and unable to act on their own, you should take this step on their behalf.

Report the Injury to Park Staff

It’s crucial to notify the park staff about the injury immediately. This step will allow park staff to get you medical assistance quickly and make an official record of the incident.

Consult an Attorney

Speak with an experienced wrongful death lawyer who will explain your legal rights and options if you or a loved one has been hurt on a carnival ride. With the help of an attorney, you can use the legal process to seek compensation for your injuries or seek compensation after the wrongful death of a loved one.

Determine Who Is Responsible

Your lawyer must first review the case details to determine who is responsible for the accident. The park’s owner and staff are accountable for damages if the accident occurred due to carelessness or operator error. The ride’s manufacturer may be accountable if a mechanical issue caused the accident. Regardless of who is liable, it is the responsibility of the lawyer you’ve chosen to establish the facts while you take care of yourself and your family.

Contact Berg Injury Lawyers

To file a wrongful death compensation lawsuit, you should strongly consider hiring a lawyer. A knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer will represent you in a wrongful death lawsuit and assist you in understanding your legal rights and alternatives, identifying the party or parties at fault for the loss of your loved one, compiling evidence to substantiate your claim, and gathering witnesses. They’ll also represent you in court or assist in negotiating a settlement with insurance providers.

It’s critical that you seek legal support if you or someone you know has suffered a loss due to a malfunctioning amusement park ride. Contact Berg Injury Lawyers and our experienced attorneys will provide compassionate legal counsel during this trying time.

Wrongful Death Claims and Suicide: Assessing Liability and Negligence

by Staff Blogger | September 29th, 2023

Many questions will remain unanswered when a loved one makes the tragic decision to take their own life. For those who survive the loss of a loved one, confusion may turn to unbearable rage when someone else’s negligence contributed to that decision. Sometimes, in cases where families suspect someone other than the victim was responsible for the suicide, they can file a wrongful death claim against that suspect.

To succeed in bringing forward a claim for wrongful death, California residents must show that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care. They must also have breached this duty to make it a proximate cause of the suicide. If you believe your loved one’s suicide resulted from someone else’s negligence, you can file a wrongful death claim.

Defending these claims requires a deep understanding of negligence, liability, and the interplay between these legal principles. You need a California wrongful death attorney who understands both very well.

How Wrongful Death Claims Can Arise in Cases of Suicide

Orcutt v. Spokane County, a landmark Washington State decision, clarified negligence factors in suicide cases. “Uncontrollable impulse” was at the core of the Orcutt decision.

The plaintiff can prove liability if the defendant’s negligence caused the uncontrollable impulse that led to the suicide. A connection must be made between the defendant’s actions and the uncontrollable urge that led to suicide.

As far as suicide-wrongful death cases are concerned, the Orcutt case marks a shift from the norm. Suicide-related wrongful death claims have traditionally been denied because they are not considered natural consequences of the defendant’s actions.

However, several legal precedents recognize exceptions to the rule, especially when the defendant’s conduct led to the decedent’s mental state.

Establishing a Connection Between Negligence and Suicide

It is challenging to unravel the circumstances that lead to suicide. However, many families will want to hold someone accountable and find some sense of justice. A California wrongful death claim can help in these situations. There are many ways negligence can lead to suicide. Some examples include:

  • Inadequate mental health treatment.
  • Leaving a suicidal child unsupervised.
  • Leaving a firearm in the home of a suicidal individual.
  • Failure to prevent bullying situations that cause emotional distress to the deceased.

Expert testimony is crucial to proving a causal link between negligence and suicide. For example, a psychiatrist or forensic scientist can shed light on possible negligence or liability by analyzing the events leading to suicide.

Moreover, courts have considered several factors when assessing liability in suicide-wrongful death cases, including:

1. Evidence linking the defendant’s behavior to an uncontrollable suicide impulse.

2. If the decedent committed suicide with any volition or understanding.

3. Whether the defendant showed any negligence or malice.

4. The defendant’s actions relating to the method of suicide.

5. Legal standards, trends, and similar cases.

Wrongful Death Claims: California’s Legal Framework

The California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60-377.62 sets forth the legal framework for wrongful death claims. Family members, such as spouses, children, and dependents, may be entitled to compensation in certain circumstances.

California imposes a comparative negligence standard. Therefore, compensation can still be awarded based on the fault each party bears, regardless of what actions the deceased person took.

Using this approach ensures a fair distribution of liability between multiple parties. To prove wrongful death in California, in the context of suicide, you must show:

  • A duty of care must be established by showing that the responsible party had a legal obligation towards the decedent. Healthcare professionals have a responsibility to provide their patients with adequate medical treatment. Institutions must keep patients safe while they are in their care.
  • A breach of duty occurs when there is a failure to meet required standards. An example would be a mental health professional who did not follow recognized treatment protocols.
  • The breach directly led to the suicide. Causation is difficult to prove, but proving it is crucial. A direct link must be established between the breach of duty and the suicide. Expert testimony is often required to show a causal connection between responsible parties’ actions or omissions and the resulting consequences.
  • Damages must be quantifiable. Many things can be considered damages in these types of cases, including medical expenses, funeral costs, and the emotional distress that surviving family members suffer.

Let a California Wrongful Death Attorney Help You

Legal claims related to suicide often involve negligence, liability, and unusual circumstances that trigger painful emotions from both parties. Facts must be examined in detail to determine if negligence led to a suicide. These facts must often be supported by testimony from experts.

The attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers have extensive experience with assessing such cases, gathering evidence, working with experts, and navigating the complex legal system. Remember that while the legal landscape can seem daunting, you do not have to go through it alone.

If you have lost a loved one due to wrongful death, contact a dedicated California wrongful death attorney who can help you get justice for your loss.

What is Wrongful Death and How is it Different from Murder in California?

by Staff Blogger | July 21st, 2023

Wrongful Death Lawyers in Modesto

Losing a loved one because of another person’s mistake is painful and unfair. Whether loss of life results from intended action or accidental negligence, the responsible party should still be held accountable.

Intentional murder is a crime against society. In these cases, the state will typically be quick to prosecute suspected murderers. The family of the deceased can also file a wrongful death claim.

If the death occurred unintentionally and the state does not file a lawsuit, the deceased person’s relatives can still file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court.

The article below will use examples and California law to break down the sometimes vague differences between these types of claims. A Modesto wrongful death lawyer can also help relatives determine what type of suit to file and where to file it.

What is Wrongful Death in California?

Wrongful death is a civil lawsuit—relatives of a deceased person file for compensation from the defendant.

When a family member dies, the surviving relatives suffer. Losing companionship and income or incurring funeral expenses and medical bills adds to the emotional pain. Although no money can bring back a loved one, financial compensation can relieve the family of some of the burden caused by the death of a loved one.

A wrongful death claim differs from survival action claims, which only come into play if the victim doesn’t die immediately. Survival action claims aim to recover damages the deceased suffered before they succumbed to their injuries. These claims compensate for medical bills, pain, suffering, and lost income. A relative, the estate, or a personal representative may bring these claims against the defendant.

In California, the Code of Civil Procedure 377.60 – 377.62 lays out the rules for pursuing a wrongful death claim. It outlines who can bring the claim to a court of law, damages they can recover, and amendments that may affect lawsuits filed before or after the stated dates.

Here are two hypothetical examples of wrongful death cases. The first one qualifies as murder, but the second doesn’t.

Example 1: Terry unsuspectingly walks into her unlocked apartment. She assumes that her partner forgot to lock the door. However, a stranger quickly overpowers Terry and chokes her to death. Later, security cameras revealed that the intruder was a thief. When Terry walked in on them, they freaked out. When police officers track down and arrest the murderer, the state files a murder lawsuit against him. Terry’s partner also files a wrongful death lawsuit.

Example 2: Nick’s truck crashes into Liam’s car. Liam is badly hurt. An ambulance rushes him to the hospital. The doctors pronounce Liam dead on arrival. Nick did not intentionally kill Liam, but he was speeding and ran a couple of red lights. His negligence caused Liam’s family to lose a loved one, so Nick is liable for damages to compensate Liam’s family. The state doesn’t file a murder lawsuit, but Liam’s family has all the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

In both examples, families dealing with losing a loved one may feel overwhelmed. They may reason that the process is too complicated. But a wrongful death lawyer in Modesto can take away such worries and guide a victim’s family in the right direction.

The following section discusses the principles that distinguish murder from wrongful death.

The Real Differences Between Wrongful Death and Murder in California

Wrongful death differs from murder in several important ways.

Burden of proof

Criminal cases (such as murder) require a higher standard of proof than civil cases (in this case, wrongful death). For example, when state prosecutors file a murder case, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. However, wrongful death only requires that the plaintiff prove that the accused, more likely than not, committed the offense.

Different Remedies

If a defendant is guilty of murder, the court will order a form of punishment. The murderer can be incarcerated for a time, or may even face a death penalty sentence. However, they are not required to pay monetary damages.

On the other hand, if the defendant is found guilty of wrongful death, they must compensate the family or estate of the deceased.

Remember that a defendant may be guilty of both murder and wrongful death. In that case, they would compensate the family and also face a jail term.


Generally, a murder occurs when the perpetrator has intentionally killed the victim . Wrongful deaths, however, can be either deliberate or accidental.

Who files the lawsuit?

It’s the role of the state to file murder suits. Wrongful death claims are usually filed by relatives of the person who died. The relative may be a:

  • Spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Child
  • Grandchild
  • Parent
  • Legal guardian
  • Minor dependent

It may be difficult to decide who should file a lawsuit if there are several surviving relatives. However, after consulting a wrongful death lawyer, Modesto residents should feel confident in how to proceed.

Why Victims Need a Wrongful Death Attorney in Modesto

First-time victims may not know where to start or if they even have a claim. This is where a wrongful death attorney can provide assistance. These lawyers will evaluate the case for free to determine if surviving family members are likely to recover damages.

Berg Injury Lawyers has represented thousands of victims in Modesto and has been in business for over four decades. We know what to look for to build a solid wrongful death claim. Schedule a free consultation session with us today to find out how we can help.

Understanding Wrongful Death Lawsuits

by Staff Blogger | June 2nd, 2023

After a loved one dies unexpectedly, family members are left dealing with the aftermath of grief and pain. It’s essential to know that legal remedies are available to help the family receive monetary damages when someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing causes the death. With the support of a Sacramento wrongful death attorney, families can file a suit against those responsible for an untimely loss. With the proper support and guidance, Berg Injury Lawyers can help you navigate this trying and emotional process in the wake of tragedy.

What Wrongful Death Is and How to Understand It

When someone’s death is caused by the negligence or misconduct of another, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed. The surviving family members have the right to compensation for losses, including medical bills, funeral costs, and lost future earnings.

A wrongful death claim may involve vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability, and other types of accidents.

To establish a wrongful death claim in California, the following components must be verified:

  • The defendant was legally required to take reasonable care in their actions or behavior.
  • The wrongful death caused the actual plaintiff suffering, such as monetary losses or mental distress.
  • The defendant violated a contractual responsibility by acting carelessly, wilfully, or deliberately.
  • The plaintiff’s loved one died due to the defendant’s negligence.

By engaging a wrongful death attorney, Sacramento families can manage the process better if they understand how lawsuits operate and which will help them make wise choices to pursue justice.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

The deceased person’s surviving spouse, children, or any other immediate family members are entitled to file a wrongful death claim. In some cases, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file the claim.

The Legal Procedure in Wrongful Death Claims

Depending on the case’s exclusive facts and the state in which the claim is made, the time and complexity of the legal process in a wrongful death lawsuit can vary. A knowledgeable wrongful death attorney in Sacramento will guide you through the legal procedure and uphold your rights. The steps of the legal process in wrongful death cases are as follows:

  1. A wrongful death case relies on evidence collection, such as medical records, eyewitness testimony, and expert testimony.
  2. After the complaint is filed in civil court, the defendant is served with it.
  3. During the discovery process, the parties share information, including depositions.
  4. The court hears motions from both sides, such as petitions for summary judgment or the exclusion of evidence.
  5. During a trial, the judge or jury hears evidence and arguments.
  6. The defendant can question and appeal if the plaintiff wins with a court-granted judgment.

Why Do I Need to Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer?

Hiring a Sacramento wrongful death attorney has several advantages, including a more detailed understanding of the legal procedure, rights protection, court representation, maximum compensation, and peace of mind. Most importantly, you get a team of investigators, experts, and lawyers that will gather the evidence needed to meet the burden of proof. The team at Berg Injury Lawyers will give you individualized advice and provide the best outcome for your case.

What Should I Expect from a Wrongful Death Lawyer?

The following are what to expect when you hire an attorney:

  • Legal counsel and direction
  • Recurring interaction
  • Investigation
  • Consultation step
  • Court representation
  • Pursuit of maximum compensation
  • Commitment and professionalism

How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The time in which you must initiate a wrongful death case varies from state to state. Understanding the precise timeframes that apply to your case requires speaking with a Sacramento wrongful death attorney, as soon as possible.

The longer you wait to file a claim, the more difficult it is to gather evidence and build a solid case. If you are unsure if you have a case, you should still contact an attorney for a free case evaluation. It is confidential and will help you make the best decision for you and your family.

Berg Injury Lawyers has extensive experience working with wrongful death lawsuits in Sacramento and other areas in California. Reach out today for a free consultation with our wrongful death attorneys. We are here to help you get the compensation you and your family deserve.

Surviving Family Members’ Rights in a Wrongful Death Claim

by Staff Blogger | May 1st, 2023

When a loved one passes away due to another party’s negligence or intentional actions, it can be devastating for surviving family members. If you are a surviving family member, you can seek compensation for the damages you suffered due to your loved one’s death.

The California wrongful death attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers can help you seek compensation for the loss of your loved one. We will help you pursue a wrongful death claim against the negligent party to receive restitution for the financial, emotional, and psychological harm caused by your family member’s wrongful death.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a legal action taken by the surviving family members of a person who has died due to another party’s negligence or intentional act. The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to seek financial compensation for the loss of the deceased person, including damages such as lost wages, medical expenses, funeral expenses, and emotional pain and suffering.

Wrongful death claims differ from survival actions, where a claim is brought on behalf of the deceased person’s estate for the damages they suffered before their death.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

When a loved one dies due to another person or entity’s negligence or recklessness, it can be a devastating and heartbreaking experience. In California, certain individuals have the right to bring a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for the losses suffered as a result of the death, including:

  • The Surviving Spouse or Registered Domestic Partner

In California, the surviving spouse or registered domestic partner of the deceased is typically given priority to bring a wrongful death claim. California Family Code Section 297 recognizes the special relationship between registered domestic partners and their rights to seek compensation for the losses suffered due to their loved one’s death.

  • Surviving Child or Children

In the absence of a surviving spouse or registered domestic partner, the surviving child or children of the deceased may have the right to bring a wrongful death claim in California.

  • Dependent Minors Living in the Household

Dependent minors, including stepchildren and adopted children, who lived in the household of the deceased at the time of their death and for at least 180 days prior and who depended on the deceased for at least 50% of their monetary support may be able to bring a wrongful death claim.

  • Other Heirs

If no spouse or child survives the deceased, other family members deemed to be heirs under California intestacy laws have the right to file a wrongful death claim. Heirs are legally entitled to inherit the decedent’s property if the deceased died without a will.

  • Next of Kin

If no relatives entitled to the deceased’s property exist, then any of the victim’s next of kin are eligible to file a wrongful death claim.

What Types of Damages are Possible in a Wrongful Death Claim in California

In California, the damages in a wrongful death case compensate heirs for the support they could have expected to receive from the deceased if they had lived.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are calculable losses related to your loved one’s death, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of income and future earnings potential
  • Loss of investments and financial support

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are for intangible losses, including:

  • Loss of companionship
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of guidance from a loved one
  • Loss of sexual intimacy
  • The pain, suffering, or disfigurement your loved one suffered before their death

Allocating damages among eligible family members in a wrongful death case is typically done through apportionment. Apportionment ensures that the damages are allocated fairly among eligible family members based on their individual circumstances and losses.

Settlements in these cases can be paid out as a lump sum or a structured settlement with payments made over time.

Discuss Your Situation with a California Wrongful Death Attorney 

A personal injury attorney from Berg Injury Lawyers can represent your interests as a surviving family member in a wrongful death claim. Your attorney will help you navigate the legal process, protect your rights, and provide valuable legal guidance and support.

Our experienced attorneys will help secure the financial compensation you deserve for your losses. Contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

Wrongful Death Claims: What They Are and How to Establish One in California

by cjadmin | April 4th, 2023

Losing a loved one is a painful experience that can be made worse if their death was caused by someone else’s negligence. In such cases, the surviving family members or heirs of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for the damages they have suffered due to their loved one’s death.

Knowing your rights as a surviving family member and how to establish a wrongful death claim can help you get compensation for your loved one’s death. The compassionate attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers can guide you through your legal options and help you file a wrongful death claim.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

When a lawsuit is brought against a person or entity whose negligent or intentional act caused someone’s death, it is considered a wrongful death claim. In California, wrongful death claims differ from survival actions, which are brought by the deceased person’s estate for damages the decedent suffered before they died.

In wrongful death cases, the deceased’s heirs file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for the losses they have suffered as a result of their loved one’s death, such as financial support and companionship.

You can file a wrongful death claim if you are the deceased’s surviving spouse or domestic partner, children, issue of deceased children, or the person entitled to the decedent’s property under intestate succession.

Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim in California

You must prove several elements against the negligent party to establish a wrongful death claim in California. You can work with your attorney from Berg Injury Lawyers to show the following four elements:

  • Negligence: The defendant had a duty of care towards the deceased person.
  • Breach of Duty: The defendant acted negligently or recklessly, breaching their duty of care.
  • Causation: The deceased person’s death was directly caused by the defendant’s breach of duty.
  • Damages: The plaintiff has suffered damages as a result of the deceased person’s death.

How to Prove Liability in a Wrongful Death Claim

Proving liability in a wrongful death claim requires gathering evidence to support the four elements. Evidence that you and your attorney can use to establish liability includes:

  • Police Report

An official police report of the accident or incident that caused the death can provide valuable information about what happened. For example, if your loved one died in a car crash with a drunk driver, the police report may contain details about BAC or field sobriety testing that proves negligence.

  • Medical Records

Medical records can help establish the extent of the deceased person’s injuries and the medical treatment they received before they died. For instance, if your loved one developed lung cancer due to working with asbestos, your attorney can use medical records to show the progression of mesothelioma and hold their employer responsible.

  • Video or Photos from the Accident Scene

Video or photos taken at the accident scene can provide visual evidence of what happened and who was involved. If your loved one died in a car accident, you can take pictures of the crash site, including traffic lights and signs, property damage, skid marks, and weather conditions to prove the other driver was speeding, causing the collision due to recklessness.

  • Eyewitness or Expert Testimony

Eyewitnesses who saw what happened can provide testimony about the events leading up to the death. Expert witnesses can provide their professional opinion about how the death occurred.

  • Grief Counseling and Personal Records

Records of grief counseling and financial support can show the impact of the deceased person’s death on their surviving family members. You can share payment receipts for therapy, attendance to grief support groups, and personal records like a journal to show the emotional impact of your loved one’s death on your life.

Recoverable Damages in a Wrongful Death

As a family member of a wrongful death victim, you are entitled to specific compensation under California law. These damages include economic, non-economic, and sometimes punitive damages.

Economic Awards

Economic damages refer to the monetary losses that the surviving family members or heirs of the deceased person have suffered due to their loved one’s death. Some examples include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of future wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of benefits such as medical insurance or pension

Non-Economic Awards

Non-economic damages are damages that are not directly tied to a specific financial loss but instead to the emotional and psychological impact that the wrongful death has had on the surviving family members or heirs.

  • Loss of consortium
  • Mental anguish, or pain and suffering of loved ones
  • Loss of companionship, love, and society
  • Loss of guidance, care, advice, and nurturing

Punitive Damages

You cannot receive punitive damages in California in a wrongful death claim. However, the law does allow punitive damages for some survival action claims by showing that the decedent suffered tangible losses, such as medical expenses or lost wages, before they died.

A Lawyer Can Help You Seek Damages in Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit

It can be a challenging time if you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s wrongdoing. However, seeking compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit can help you and your family find closure and recover damages for your losses.

California wrongful death attorneys can help you navigate the legal system and help ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to.

The attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers can provide you with experienced and empathetic legal representation. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help you seek financial compensation for your loved one’s wrongful death.

The Difference Between Wrongful Death Claims and Survival Actions

by Staff Blogger | February 20th, 2023

When someone you love dies due to another’s negligence or wrongful act, it can be a particularly challenging and emotional time. However, it is important to consider pursuing legal action to seek justice and hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.

Many surviving family members and beneficiaries are unaware that in California, wrongful death claims and survival actions are different ways that families can pursue compensation. Understanding the legal elements of each claim can help you know which one to file to hold a negligent party responsible and receive a settlement for damages.

An experienced wrongful death attorney at Berg Injury Lawyers can guide you through your legal options after the death of a family member at the hands of someone else’s negligence.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a legal action brought by the surviving family members of a person who has died due to another person’s negligence or wrongful act. This claim can be filed whenever a person is killed as a result of an intentional act, carelessness, or recklessness of another person.

Accidents like car crashes, medical malpractice, construction site accidents, and slip-and-falls can be valid reasons to file a wrongful death claim.   

In California, family members, such as the decedent’s spouse, children, or domestic partner, can bring a wrongful death claim. If the decedent is a minor, their parents or guardian can also file a claim.

In a wrongful death claim, the surviving family members can seek damages for losses and damages resulting from the decedent’s death. These damages may include:

  • Medical and funeral expenses
  • Loss of financial support and future earnings that the decedent would have provided to the family
  • Loss of love, companionship, and other intangible losses suffered by the surviving family members
  • Loss of guidance, care, and nurturing
  • Loss of inheritance

What Is a Survival Action?

A survival action is a lawsuit that the deceased person would have been able to bring had they survived their injuries. It can only be filed if the deceased did not die immediately.

In California, a survival action may be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate or by the decedent’s heirs. Damages are intended to compensate the decedent’s estate for losses suffered by the decedent before their death. These damages may include:

  • Medical expenses incurred as a result of the decedent’s injuries
  • Lost wages or income the decedent would have earned if they had survived
  • Pain and suffering experienced by the decedent before their death

The damages recovered belong to the decedent’s estate and are distributed according to the terms of the decedent’s will or California’s intestate succession laws if the decedent had no will.

3 Primary Differences Between Wrongful Death Claims and Survival Actions

Three main differences exist between wrongful death claims and survival actions in California. Eligibility, damages, and compensation distribution differentiate these legal options for surviving family members.

  • Eligibility. A wrongful death claim is filed on behalf of the spouse, child, parent, or any other person allowed under law who was financially dependent on the deceased. Whereas a survival action claim is filed on behalf of the deceased person by an estate representative.
  • Damages. The damages recoverable in a wrongful death claim are focused on compensating the surviving family members for their losses. The damages recovered in a survival action compensate the decedent’s estate for losses suffered by the decedent before their death, such as pain and suffering.
  • Distribution of damages. In a wrongful death claim, the damages are distributed to the surviving family members, while the damages are distributed to the decedent’s estate in a survival action. The estate then distributes the funds according to the terms of the decedent’s will.

Contact Berg Injury Lawyers for Support and Guidance

The death of a loved one is always tragic, but it is especially heartbreaking when it happens as a result of another person’s careless actions. If you are considering filing a survival action or wrongful death claim against the negligent party, seek the guidance of qualified California wrongful death lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers.

Not only does our law firm have the experience and resources necessary to hold wrongdoers accountable, but our team is also compassionate and ready to defend those who have been unfairly harmed. Contact us for a confidential, free consultation so we may support and assist you.

What’s a Putative Spouse in California?

by Staff Blogger | January 18th, 2023

Filing a wrongful death claim in California can be a complicated and confusing process, made worse by simultaneously grieving the loss of a loved one. Usually, wrongful death lawsuits are filed by surviving spouses with the assistance of California wrongful death lawyers.

But in some cases, surviving spouses find out after their spouse’s death that their marriage may never have been legally valid due to a defect or technicality.

When these unfortunate situations occur, California law provides an avenue for recourse through the putative spouse doctrine. In this blog post, we’ll explain what a putative spouse is under California law, and how the putative spouse doctrine can assist families of wrongful death victims.

California Wrongful Death Lawsuits

A wrongful death lawsuit is filed after a person dies due to another person’s negligence. Filed by the victim’s surviving family members, wrongful death claims are designed to compensate surviving family members for the loss they have suffered.

During a case consultation with our team of wrongful death lawyers, California families can explore the types of damages that may be available in their specific case, as damages vary from case to case. The types of damages that may be available in a wrongful death case include the following:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of future earning potential
  • Loss of love and companionship
  • Loss of expected gifts or inheritances

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In California, the law first permits a victim’s surviving spouse to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If a victim is unmarried, then the lawsuit may be filed by other surviving immediate family members, such as children, parents, or siblings.

In some cases, a surviving spouse may find out after their spouse’s death that they were actually never legally married. In these situations, California law labels the surviving spouse as a “putative spouse” and allows them to file a wrongful death lawsuit if they meet certain conditions.

What is a Putative Spouse in California?

Under California law, a putative spouse is a person who holds a reasonable belief that they are married, when in reality, their marriage is legally invalid. Putative spouses in California are allowed to file wrongful death lawsuits if they genuinely believe that their marriage to the victim was true and valid.

Most often, the putative spouse issue arises in cases of second marriages, where one spouse’s divorce may not have been actually finalized, accidentally leaving the first marriage legally intact.

Putative Spouses in California Wrongful Death Lawsuits

The California Supreme Court most recently addressed the putative spouse issue in a 2013 case titled Ceja v. Rudolph & Sletten, Inc. In that case, the deceased victim filed for divorce from his first wife, but it was not finalized until three months after the victim and his second wife married. Because the divorce was not finalized when the second marriage occurred, the second marriage was never legally valid.

But despite that, the second wife changed her last name, wore a wedding ring, and otherwise held herself out as the victim’s legally wedded wife. Four years later, the victim was killed in an on-the-job accident at a construction site. The victim’s employer tried to dismiss the lawsuit, but the court disagreed, holding that the putative spouse doctrine applied because the surviving spouse held a genuine belief that her marriage to the victim was valid.

Rights of California Putative Spouses

Putative spouses in California hold the same legal rights as any other surviving spouse. In short, the putative spouse doctrine provides a solution for spouses who may be surprised to learn that their marriages are invalid. Experienced wrongful death lawyers in California, such as our team at Berg Injury Lawyers, are knowledgeable about the putative spouse doctrine and its applications.

Why You Need a California Wrongful Death Lawyer

If you and your family find yourselves grieving the loss of a loved one caused by another person’s negligence, you should contact a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. Our team at Berg Injury Lawyers has been representing California families for more than 40 years, including in wrongful death lawsuits.

We’re proud to offer free case consultations to prospective wrongful death clients, and we’re ready to hear from you. Contact us today to set up an appointment.