Wrongful Death

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.

Steps to Take After a Wrongful Death

by Staff Blogger | November 1st, 2022

Losing your loved one is never easy, but if the person died due to the negligence or misconduct of another, including in a fatal accident, the situation is not only heartbreaking but also complex. Berg Injury Lawyers, the Sacramento wrongful death lawyers understand how painful it can be to recover from the loss of a family member. We are ready and committed to helping with your Sacramento wrongful death claim with as little stress as possible from your side. Continue reading to learn what to do if you lose your family in an intentional fatal accident.

What Is a Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death in Sacramento is a claim that arises when a person dies as a result of negligence-based incidents like accidents, medical malpractice, and intentional acts, including crimes. According to California laws, some of the individuals allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit can include the victim’s family:

  • Surviving spouse.
  • Surviving domestic partner.
  • Surviving children.
  • Surviving issue of the decedent.
  • Individuals who were financially dependent on the deceased.
  • The decedent’s representative.

The above people can file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state’s civil courts on their own or with the help of personal injury lawyers in Sacramento, California. To establish a wrongful death lawsuit in Sacramento, California, eligible claimants must prove that:

  • The deceased died a wrongful death.
  • They sustained financial or other losses due to the death. The other losses include loss of companionship, love, support, and affection, and also endured emotional harm.

What to Do After a Wrongful Death in Sacramento?

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we want understand how difficult it is when you are faced with a unfortunate position, and we want to help you throughout your legal claim. Here are actionable ways to help substantiate your case after a wrongful death.

Obtain a Death Certificate

Obtaining a death certificate is the first step you should take when filing for a Sacramento wrongful death. The Vital Records Units register all the deaths in Sacramento County. However, knowing which office to contact can be confusing.

For a death that occurred in Sacramento this year or last year, you can get a copy of the death certificate from either the County Clerk-Recorder or the Vital Records office. If the death occurred in Sacramento County prior to the past two years, you can only get a copy of the certificate from the County Clerk-Recorder office. 

Choose an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

One of the ways to increase your chances of winning a wrongful death lawsuit is through working with an experienced wrongful death lawyer, Sacramento. However, selecting a personal injury lawyer ideal for your case can be challenging. For cases of death due to fatal accidents, you should check for a personal injury lawyer who handles car crash cases.

Next, you should ensure that the lawyer you intend to hire does not have any disciplinary action against them. It is also vital to check the attorney’s website for reviews and other firm information. If the reviews are positive and you are satisfied with how the lawyer operates, you can schedule a consultation with them.

The initial consultation allows you to ask the personal injury lawyer questions, and this helps you learn more about them. Most personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations, and this allows you to visit several lawyers before choosing the one with the best qualities.

Plan to Participate in Your Lawyer’s Investigation

Gathering legal support for a wrongful death claim from an accident requires extensive investigation to get all the aspects of the accident that led to death. Working closely with the lawyer during the investigation helps gather all the necessary evidence quickly and build a strong case.

Wrongful death lawyers in Sacramento may also hire other professionals, such as private investigators, or seek support and assistance from other departments and officers. However, this depends on the case’s complexity or whether the lawyer has numerous tasks to perform when the investigation begins.

Gather Proof and Documentation

To establish a solid wrongful death claim, gathering proof and documentation related to the decedent and the cause of death is essential. The proof and documentation include the following:

  • Death certificate.
  • Medical records.
  • Witness statements.
  • Police and autopsy reports.
  • Photos and videos.
  • Pay stubs and tax returns.
  • Witness statements.

Keep Detailed Records of All Your Expenses

When pursuing a wrongful death Sacramento survivors should maintain a detailed record of all their expenses. The expenses include medical bills, funeral charges, and other receipts and documents relating to spending and income. One of the main aims of filing a wrongful death suit is to receive compensation for their loss and recover damages incurred while filing the lawsuit.

Join a Support Group

Most people find it challenging to deal with the emotions and legalities involved after a wrongful death. One of the best ways to cope with such situations is by joining a support group. Besides support groups, one may also get emotional support from parents, siblings, teachers, and friends.

Support groups with members with similar experiences are ideal because one can get advice on numerous things, including choosing a Sacramento personal injury lawyer and dealing with the stress of filing a claim.  

Hire an Experienced Sacramento Wrongful Death Lawyer

Personal injury lawsuits are complex, and with an experienced lawyer, you will increase the chance of receiving the total compensation you deserve. In addition, experienced and professional wrongful death lawyers are reliable and will always show up in court on time and always have the necessary evidence for your case.

Another reason for hiring an experienced lawyer for your wrongful death in Sacramento is their familiarity with the court systems and process. They are also aware of all the laws that apply to a wrongful death lawsuit. Besides knowing the system, an experienced personal injury lawyer has easy access to resources you may not get on your own. This includes connections with other professionals, such as expert witnesses with forensic backgrounds and tax consultants.

Finally, an experienced Sacramento personal injury lawyer is more likely to have dealt with cases like yours. Through this, they are familiar with scenarios and events that may arise during the lawsuits or what to expect. Such experience ensures that your case progresses well with no hindrances.

Get Help Dealing With Your Wrongful Death in Sacramento From Experienced Lawyers

Berg Injury Lawyers have helped residents inSacramento and California through difficulties for more than three decades, and we would like to assist your family. If you have lost a family member in a fatal accident due to someone else’s negligence, our personal injury lawyers in Sacramento are looking forward to helping get justice for your family. Call us for a free consultation today.

Why File a Wrongful Death Claim in California

by Staff Blogger | October 18th, 2022

If someone else’s negligent, reckless, or intentional actions resulted in your family member’s wrongful death, California residents might have the right to file a wrongful death claim.

It may seem pointless because no amount of money can truly replace a loved one or make everything right. Plus, repeatedly bringing it up can make it hard to heal and be at peace. But there are several reasons why you should hire a wrongful death lawyer in California, which this guide discusses.

What Is Wrongful Death in California?

A wrongful death occurs when someone dies due to someone else’s negligent, intentional, or reckless acts. In California, wrongful death lawsuits fall under personal injury claims.

As in other personal injury claims, the wrongful death lawyer in California helps the plaintiff to receive financial compensation. This is one of the differences between wrongful death and criminal homicide cases. In the latter, the defendant is jailed or put on probation.

Why You Should File a Wrongful Death Claim in California

If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death, you should hire a qualified lawyer to file a wrongful death claim to hold the responsible person accountable, gain justice for the deceased, deter others from doing the same, and gain compensation for your loss and suffering.

Getting Justice for the Deceased

Helping your loved one get justice by representing them in public and the court of law can honor their memory. When the responsible party pays the damages, it counts as obtaining justice and holding them accountable for their actions. If possible, you can also file a criminal charge against them.

A wrongful death in California claim can bring you closure and peace of mind.

Deterring Others

You wouldn’t want anyone to undergo the pain and suffering of losing a loved one due to negligence or misconduct. By filing a wrongful death claim, you send a message to others that negligence or misconduct that risks a person’s life is intolerable. It shows them there are consequences to their actions, so they should be careful.

Being Financially Compensated

No amount of money can bring back your loved one. But you can heal better and faster if their hospitalization and burial don’t leave you with a huge hospital and funeral bill. You will also feel better equipped to cope with your loss if you don’t feel the financial gap they left.

Filing a wrongful death claim in California will allow you to recover these expenses and the financial assistance the deceased used to provide.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death in California

Wrongful death can arise from several events resulting from negligent or intentional acts. They include:

  • Traffic accident.
  • Faulty prescription drug or medical malpractice.
  • Workplace accident.
  • Daycare or nursing home abuse or negligence.
  • Slip and fall incident.
  • Assault, violence, and other crimes.

The wrongful death lawyer in California files the claim against the at-fault party.

Types of Compensation in a Wrongful Death Case in California

In case of wrongful death in California, the deceased’s surviving family may receive two types of compensation: economic and non-economic damages. 

Economic damages include:

  • Hospital, funeral, and burial expenses.
  • Loss of financial support the deceased would have contributed to the family.
  • The dollar value of the services the deceased provided in the household.
  • Loss of benefits and gifts the decedent would have bought for the family.

Non-economic damages include:

  • Loss of the deceased’s guidance.
  • Lack of enjoyment of life.
  • Loss of consortium.
  • Loss of enjoyment of intimacy with the decedent.

Note that California wrongful death statutes do not allow these lawsuits to pursue punitive damages. The only way to seek punitive damages in case of a loved one’s wrongful death is to file a survival cause of action. You can do that concurrently.

Who Can File a Lawsuit for Wrongful Death in California?

The people allowed to file wrongful death claims vary by state. California personal injury statutes permit the following people to file a wrongful death claim:

  • The surviving spouse or a domestic partner.
  • The deceased’s surviving children.
  • The deceased’s grandchildren, if the spouse and children have also passed away.

If the three parties above are unavailable, individuals who can prove they were financially dependent on the victim can file a wrongful death claim. They include:

  • The deceased’s parents and siblings.
  • Children of the decedent’s spouse.
  • The deceased’s stepchildren.
  • A legal guardian of the deceased.

You can find more details about the matter in the California Code.

Why Hiring an Experienced California Wrongful Death Lawyer Is Important

Claims of wrongful death are very complex and involve many facets. You need an experienced California wrongful death lawyer to help you navigate as you seek justice and compensation. They will benefit you in the following ways.

  • They understand the law.

California wrongful death lawyers have years of experience handling various cases. Once you explain your situation, they already know what to do and can advise you on the next steps.

They have the tools and networks to file the claim swiftly and efficiently and fasten the process.

  • They negotiate for you.

The defendant’s insurance company intends to settle as little as possible, so they may use hard tactics. In this period of grief, you need someone who can be objective and have dealt with them so they understand their tactics.

An experienced wrongful death attorney is objective and can expertly negotiate with the defendant’s representatives, getting you the highest settlement possible.

  • They save you time and money.

Wrongful death cases can take up to several years to settle. You would have to spend lots of time collecting the evidence to build your case, dealing with the paperwork, attending meetings and court sessions, etc.

An attorney can handle all this for you, reducing your workload while doing everything faster than you would have if you did it yourself.

Additionally, an experienced attorney can help you get the highest payout possible by ensuring you get the actual value of your claim, offsetting the legal expenses.

File the Wrongful Death Claim

File this type of claim if you have lost a loved one due to another person’s actions. It won’t bring your loved one back, but it will get them the justice they deserve, which could bring you closure and peace of mind.

It will also deter others from being negligent because they will see the consequences of their negligence, and you will be financially compensated for your loss and suffering, which could help you heal.

Call Berg Injury Lawyers. We Can Help You With Your Wrongful Death Claim

If someone else’s actions have caused a wrongful death in California, call Berg Injury Lawyers. We are the wrongful death attorneys California residents rely on for knowledge and resources to handle your wrongful death case. With nearly four decades of experience representing clients throughout Northern California, we can get you the best results possible.Schedule a free consultation today to start pursuing justice for your loved one.

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.