Wrongful Death

Is There an Average Wrongful Death Settlement Amount in California?

by Staff | October 26th, 2021

Clients frequently ask what the average wrongful death settlement amount is in California. Because each case is unique and every victim is different, there is no definitive answer. However, several common factors are used to determine a settlement amount, which can help estimate what you are owed.

Unlike other types of settlements, wrongful death cases are extremely difficult to evaluate due to many variables. While you may be able to assign a figure to a loss of income, services, monetary support, or other economic factors, intangibles are more challenging to determine.

The tragic loss of a family member can have a devastating emotional impact, which is impossible to evaluate monetarily. In many cases, a loss of comfort or guidance may be more impactful than a lack of financial support.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit that occurs when someone dies due to a legal fault of a person or entity, be it intentional or accidental. Some of California’s most common types of wrongful deaths include medical malpractice and car accident cases.

According to California law, those entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit include the decedent’s spouse or domestic partner, children, or grandchildren. If there are no surviving members of the deceased’s family line, a wrongful death claim can be filed by someone who may be entitled to compensation by “intestate succession.” This is usually the deceased’s parents, siblings, or other relatives.

In some cases, wrongful death claims may be filed by someone who can prove they were financially dependent on the deceased person.

What Factors Determine a Wrongful Death Settlement Amount?

Various factors influence a jury’s assessment of the wrongful death settlement amount. These factors traditionally include the financial losses resulting from the accident and the deceased person’s background and lifestyle.

Tangible Losses

Tangible losses are economic damages that cover all out-of-pocket expenses. These substantial losses might compensate a family’s lost health insurance, among other costs incurred by the death. These can include:

  • Reasonable funeral and burial costs the family incurred.
  • Loss of future wages and employment benefits that the deceased would have earned for the family if the loved one had lived.
  • The value of any gifts or inheritance the family would have received from the deceased.
  • Costs associated with household services provided by the deceased.

Intangible Losses

California law does not permit families to receive money for the poverty and grief, pain, or suffering they experience after a wrongful death. However, it allows them to recover other intangible losses known as non-economic damages, such as:

  • The loss of the deceased’s “love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, moral support.”
  • Spouse or partner’s loss of intimacy from the deceased.
  • Loss of the deceased’s guidance.

The deceased person’s life expectancy, habits, activities, and lifestyle can all be considered when determining the surviving family members’ settlement amount. The following factors are looked at when calculating intangible losses:

  • Whether the deceased left behind a spouse or small children.
  • If family members were close to the deceased person.
  • If the deceased person was an important member of their community and had a morally upright character.

Factors That Can Reduce a Settlement Amount

Some factors that might reduce the settlement are:

  • There were no or few close family ties and no surviving spouse for the deceased.
  • The deceased was elderly and retired.
  • Isolation from the deceased’s local community.
  • Contribution to the accident that resulted in their death.
  • Previous criminal background.

Aside from relying on these factors, jurors are advised to rely on evidence to come to a reasonable amount. Because of these reasons, determining the exact amount and value of a wrongful death settlement is challenging.

Contact Berg Injury Lawyers for 24/7 Support

For advice and guidance on settling a wrongful death case, contact San Francisco Personal Injury Lawyers, Berg Injury Lawyers. Our compassionate and experienced legal team can help you get the compensation you deserve.

Our attorneys understand what it takes to prove your wrongful death case, and we have years of experience negotiating favorable settlements on behalf of our clients.  

Contact us for a free consultation and to discuss how we can help you receive a fair wrongful death settlement in California.

Avoid These Common Mistakes When Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in California

by Staff | August 9th, 2021

Losing a loved one is a challenging moment in anyone’s life. For many, there is no pain worse than mourning the loss of a family member or friend. Although it is natural to be emotional under such hardship, the pain felt is made even worse when knowing the death resulted from another person’s negligence.

In cases where the death is due to someone else’s negligence, the victim’s family has the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit and hold the responsible parties accountable. If you are a California resident intending to file a wrongful death claim, learn about these common mistakes and why you should avoid making them.

Settling Your Case Without an Attorney

In times of hardship, it can be tempting to settle the case independently. However, this is one of the most common mistakes when filing a legal claim and exacerbates the stress you may already be experiencing.

Don’t fight this battle alone. Contact California wrongful death attorneys and let them handle the legal aspects of your case. At Berg Injury Lawyers, our wrongful death attorneys have the resources and qualifications to represent you, giving you the time you need to heal.

Family Infighting

The stress and pressure involved in a wrongful death lawsuit cause many families to argue over various issues, such as funeral arrangements or other estate matters.

While it’s natural to be emotional under pressure, you and your family must set aside your differences and focus on recovering. If you are having difficulty handling interaction and communication regarding a lawsuit due to grief, our wrongful death attorneys can remove the legal burden from your shoulders, so you have the time you need to grieve your loved one.   

Speaking to an Insurance Company

When dealing with their insurance providers, mistakes families make fall into one of these two categories: speaking to them before contacting a lawyer or letting multiple family members talk to company representatives.

Remember that an insurance company never has you or your family’s best interests in mind. Their priority is to minimize the amount of money they owe you, and they will attempt every tactic possible to avoid paying the compensation you deserve.

By getting family members to speak to their representatives – especially multiple members, who can contradict each other – insurance reps may gather statements and information they can use to reduce the compensation they offer or even deny your claim entirely.

Refer the reps to your attorneys, do not speak directly to them, and advise your family members not to talk to them either.

Accepting an Offer Too Early

Spend some time thinking about the costs involved in the death of your loved one. The total expenses likely include medical and funeral expenses, loss of future earnings – particularly if the deceased loved one was the family’s primary income earner – compensation for the pain and suffering endured, and more.

When filing a wrongful death claim, the settlement should adequately compensate you for all these factors. Since insurance companies will offer you as little as possible, their initial offers are seldom enough.

You must carefully consider when you should accept the compensation. Once you do, there is no going back to ask for additional funds. If you’re in doubt, ask for counseling from your attorneys; they can help you determine whether the compensation is worth accepting.

Speaking Publicly About the Situation (Even Online)

Depending on the circumstances, the situation may have garnered public attention, and local media organizations may attempt to reach you for statements or comments. While it may be tempting, don’t speak about the events to media organizations or in public settings, no matter how much you wish others to know what you’re going through.

Any public statements you make can be used against you during a trial or negotiations, potentially preventing you from getting the compensation you deserve.

Similarly, anything you post publicly on social media is equivalent to making a public statement. The content of your posts can be used against you, even if you later delete them; a third party can take screenshots and save evidence of your statements.

Maintain your privacy and avoid public statements both online and offline, at least until a settlement has been reached and you’ve received compensation.

Let Us Help You

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we understand how challenging it can be for the families of wrongful death victims. Entrust your legal representation to us; we will stand up for your rights and give you compassionate legal service and counsel. Contact us today for a no-obligation, free consultation.

How Can You Prove Wrongful Death?

by Staff Blogger | November 23rd, 2020

proving wrongful deathWhen a person is fatally injured because of someone else’s negligence, surviving family members might consider filing a wrongful death claim to get compensation for their losses. Because someone’s life was lost and a family is forced to deal with the consequences, so much is at stake in these claims. Proceeding with a wrongful death claim requires plenty of evidence and proof. But what does it take to prove wrongful death?

Proving Wrongful Death: The 3 Basic Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim

To win a wrongful death case, claimants (those who file the claim) must first prove that certain elements exist. Those three elements are:
  1. Duty of care—This means that the party allegedly at fault for the death had a responsibility toward the safety of the deceased. If a wrongful death occurred in a car accident, then the duty of care was following traffic laws. If the death occurred in the workplace, the duty of care would be that of the employer to keep employees safe.
  2. A violation of that duty—If duty of care is established, the claimants must prove that the duty wasn’t carried out by the at-fault party. Using our car accident example, a driver might have breached the duty of care when they drove while intoxicated. For a workplace death, the employer might not have provided the appropriate safety equipment to their employee.
  3. That breach of duty caused the death—Finally, the claimants must prove that the violation of duty caused the death. For example, a driver collided into the deceased because they were intoxicated, or the employer’s failure to provide safety equipment caused the worker’s death.
The parties filing the wrongful death claim will then list the damages they’ve suffered because of their loss. In California, wrongful death actions can include damages such as the loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, protection, affection, and both emotional and financial support.

What Evidence Is Used to Prove Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death attorneys will often look for hard evidence to prove that the deceased’s passing was caused by the negligence of another party. For wrongful deaths in vehicle accidents, this could include:
  • Obtaining the police report
  • Interviewing witnesses of the crash
  • Consulting experts about the potential causes of the crash
  • Reviewing any available footage of the crash
The attorney will then use the evidence they’ve uncovered to link the breach of the allegedly at-fault party’s duty of care to the passing of the deceased. In a workplace wrongful death case, an attorney might use similar strategies, including:
  • Interviewing coworkers or other potential witnesses of the incident that led to the worker’s death
  • Obtaining security camera footage of the incident
  • Consulting experts to prove the negligence of the employer
  • Reviewing other breaches of the employer’s duty of care to look for a pattern of negligence

We Represent Families of Wrongful Death Victims in California

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we have years of experience standing up for the rights of grieving family members. We know how complicated and delicate these cases can be, so we make sure our clients get the compassionate, dedicated legal service they deserve. If you’d like to speak to a California wrongful death attorney, contact Berg Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation.

You Need a Caring Law Firm to Handle Your Wrongful Death Claim

by Staff Blogger | January 20th, 2020

If your loved one died because of someone else’s negligence, it’s important to have a law firm on your side that is dedicated both to getting you maximum compensation and ensuring your needs are taken care of. Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences in life, especially when the loss was preventable and due to carelessness or even corporate greed. That’s why simply getting compensation isn’t always enough. At Berg Injury Lawyers, our California wrongful death attorneys know what you’re going through. When you contact us, it’s our job to treat you and your family members with compassion, care, and sensitivity. We’ll work hard to get you the money you deserve for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and more, while also doing everything we can to honor your loved one’s memory. Whether your loved one died as a result of a road accident, a workplace accident, medical malpractice, or any other preventable cause, we want to be your advocate. We know that insurance companies are often reluctant to pay surviving family members the money they’re owed after their losses, even when there’s plenty of evidence that shows victims weren’t at fault for their own accidents and injuries. That’s why we never give up, and we work hard to hold liable parties accountable for the damages they’ve caused. Contact us today for a free consultation. You’ve gone through enough already—let us help you honor your loved one’s memory and get full compensation for your loss.

3 Common Accidents That Lead to Wrongful Death Claims

by Staff Blogger | November 11th, 2019

At Berg Injury Lawyers, it’s our goal to help people who have been injured because of other people’s or parties’ negligence. And while most of the claims we build are for people who suffered serious injuries, we also build claims for the surviving loved ones of victims of fatal accidents. When someone dies as a result of others’ negligence, their family members can pursue compensation via a wrongful death claim—and it’s our job to provide them the legal representation they need. There are many types of accidents and injuries that can result in wrongful deaths. However, our California wrongful death lawyers know that certain accident types are more likely to result in deaths than others, including:
  1. Auto accidents—Wrongful deaths can occur when drivers break the rules of the road. Whether they’re speeding, driving while impaired, driving while intoxicated, or running red lights, negligent drivers can cause serious and even fatal injuries to others.
  2. Motorcycle accidents—Motorcyclists are vulnerable on California’s roadways. Their only protection comes from their riding gear, and it’s not always enough to prevent serious injuries. When other drivers fail to look out for motorcyclists, they can cause fatal accidents.
  3. Truck accidents—The trucking industry is strictly regulated and governed in the U.S. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has its own bylaws that truck drivers, companies, and owners must abide by. When they fail to abide by those rules, fatal crashes can occur.
If your loved one was killed in an accident that wasn’t their fault, you may be eligible to get compensation for medical bills, lost wages, loss of companionship, and more. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Do You Need a Lawyer for a Wrongful Death Claim?

by Staff Blogger | September 2nd, 2019

If you recently lost a loved one because of another person’s or party’s negligence, you’re not just grieving your family’s loss—you’re probably also worried about how you’ll keep your heads above water. The death of a loved one isn’t just a traumatic experience, but also one that can make it difficult for families financially due to lost income. And when they’re already facing medical bills and funeral costs, the expenses may simply be too much for surviving family members to bear. You can file a wrongful death claim if your loved one’s death was preventable, but getting compensation isn’t easy. The responsible party’s insurance company will work hard to reduce or deny your claim, and if you don’t have experience in these types of lawsuits, you may be unable to fight back effectively. In addition, insurance companies are adept at finding ways to get claimants to jeopardize their own claims via lengthy and confusing paperwork, leading questions, and arbitrary time limits. Having an experienced California wrongful death lawyer on your side can help you avoid these potential pitfalls. At Berg Injury Lawyers, we know the tactics insurance companies use to get out of paying surviving family members the money they deserve, and we’ll work hard to protect your claim and your rights to compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation to find out how we can help your family.

Don’t Go It Alone After Your Loved One’s Wrongful Death

by Staff Blogger | July 1st, 2019

Losing a loved one is a traumatic and stressful experience. It can be difficult to cope with the demands of daily life when you’re grieving your loss, especially when your loved one was the primary income earner for your household. The costs associated with the death of a family member can be enormous. You may be facing expensive medical bills and funeral costs, but your family’s income may be significantly reduced or even eliminated altogether. Filing a wrongful death claim if your loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence can help you recover compensation, but it can be difficult to win over the insurance company on your own. At Berg Injury Lawyers, our California wrongful death lawyers want to help. We know how challenging wrongful death claims can be, especially when you’re already dealing with emotional trauma and the shock of your loved one’s passing. You’re going through a difficult time already, and the last thing you need is to try and convince the insurance company that your family deserves compensation. Our legal team can handle that on your behalf while you focus on honoring your loved one’s memory and moving forward with your life. We’ll collect evidence that proves the other party’s negligence caused your loved one’s death. Then, we’ll calculate how much money you’re owed. Finally, we’ll fight to get you every penny you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation. We’re ready to put our experience to work for you.

Wrongful Death Claims Require Experienced Legal Representation

by Staff Blogger | April 1st, 2019

If you recently lost a loved one because of another person’s or party’s negligence, you may be eligible to pursue compensation for your family’s expenses, including medical bills and lost wages. However, wrongful death claims are often difficult to prove, and they require plenty of evidence and persistence. Getting a successful outcome is hard for many families, especially when they’re still grieving the loss of a loved one. At Berg Injury Lawyers, our California wrongful death lawyers know what you’re going through. We have many years of experience building successful claims for families like yours, and it’s our goal to take some of the stress of this difficult time off your shoulders while you focus on moving forward with your life. When you choose us to handle your claim, we’ll take the following steps on your behalf:
  • We’ll collect evidence that proves your loved one’s death was negligence-related—Whether your loved one suffered fatal injuries in an accident or suffered health problems due to medical malpractice or a defective product, we’ll collect evidence that definitively proves his or her cause of death was preventable.
  • We’ll determine how much money you’re owed and fight to help you get it—You may be facing expensive medical bills and funeral costs that you can’t afford, especially if your loved one was the primary income earner in your household. We’ll calculate how much money you deserve, and then we’ll negotiate with the insurance company to get you every penny you’re owed.
Call us today for a free consultation. We’re ready to put our experience to work for your family.

What Types of Compensation Are Available for Families After Wrongful Deaths?

by Staff Blogger | December 3rd, 2018

If you recently lost a loved one due to another person’s or party’s negligence, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation. There are four types of compensation that surviving family members often receive at the conclusion of wrongful death claims:
  1. Medical bills—Whether your loved one suffered a preventable injury or developed a preventable illness, he or she may have required extensive medical treatment. Unfortunately, medical bills aren’t discharged when patients pass away, and that means you may be facing huge healthcare costs that you can’t afford without filing a compensation claim.
  2. Lost wages—If your loved one was a primary income earner for your household, his or her death may have devastating effects on your family’s finances. It can be difficult to afford day-to-day living expenses without his or her income, but a wrongful death claim can help you recoup some or all of that money.
  3. Funeral costs—Funerals are more expensive than ever, and trying to afford one when you’re already facing so many other expenses can be overwhelming. Wrongful death claims help provide relief for families who are worried that they might not be able to give their loved ones the funerals they deserve.
  4. Loss of consortium—Above all else, losing a loved one means losing a person you deeply cared about and who provided many types of support to you and the rest of your family. Wrongful death claims also take that loss into consideration when settlement claims are calculated.
Want to learn more? Call the California wrongful death attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation.

What Types of Accidents Can Result in Wrongful Deaths?

by Staff Blogger | March 26th, 2018

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we know there are few events in life more devastating than losing a loved one. The loss can be even more difficult to process if it was caused by a preventable accident. Our California wrongful death lawyers fight to help families and surviving spouses, children, and parents get compensation after a loved one dies due to someone else’s negligence. However, our years of experience handling these types of cases has made us aware that many families are unsure whether they have a wrongful death claim. There are certain types of fatal accidents and scenarios that can be considered wrongful death, such as:
  • Work-related accidents – If your loved one suffered fatal injuries at work due to a lack of training or safety equipment or a dangerous work environment, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation.
  • Car accidents – All drivers have a responsibility to drive safely and cautiously. When they fail to uphold that responsibility, they can seriously injure and even kill innocent people—and that can be grounds for victims’ families to file wrongful death claims.
  • Medical malpractice – Doctors, surgeons, and other healthcare providers are supposed to help their patients get better. But sometimes, their carelessness and negligence results in serious injuries that can prove fatal. When that happens, families can pursue compensation for their losses.
Those are just a few examples of accidents and scenarios that can lead to wrongful death claims. If you lost a loved one due to another person’s or party’s negligence, we want to help. Call today for a free consultation.