How Does Comparative Fault Affect Wrongful Death Claims?

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Every year, there are about 340 million occupational accidents and 160 million cases of work-related illnesses worldwide. Every day, 6,000 people die of work-related diseases and accidents.

Nothing justifies the untimely and avoidable loss of life, regardless of who is liable. But in the legal context, if a workplace accident resulted in injury or wrongful death, it is only just to determine the party accountable.

Now, what if the victim is supposedly partly at fault for their accident?

The surviving family must see a wrongful death attorney immediately. In Los Angeles, Haffer Law’s personal injury attorneys offer legal advice and representation to the families of people who suffered a fatal injury while at work. Our services will especially benefit the families of victims who got into a fatal accident due to a personal error.

Reviewing Comparative Fault

Los Angeles follows California’s comparative fault law. Comparative fault means that if a person who files a personal injury claim is partly to blame for the accident that caused their injury, the compensation they’ll receive will be reduced according to how much they were at fault.

Here is an example: a pedestrian who walks into a bike lane was hit by a cyclist and broke their arm. An investigation reveals that a sidewalk for pedestrians runs parallel to the bike lane; the pedestrian walks to work and passes by the bike lane every day, and the multiple signs that indicate a bike lane cannot be missed.

In this scenario, it’s certain that the pedestrian is aware of both the bike lane and sidewalk but still chose to use the bike lane. The pedestrian, therefore, is partly at fault for the incident. If the judge or mediator determines their culpability at 40 percent, they can only receive 60 percent of their personal injury compensation claims.

Applying Comparative Fault in Wrongful Death

The comparative fault doctrine still applies in workplace accidents that lead to wrongful death. This is to protect the interests of the party that did their best to fulfill their duty of care, whether they are a worker, supervisor, service provider, or the company itself.

So if the worker who sustains a fatal injury at work is partly at fault, the compensation that the bereaved family can receive will still be reduced based on how much the worker is to blame.

What Can Families of Wrongful Death Victims Include in Their Claims?

Following the rules of comparative fault, an employer that is judged to be partly responsible for a worker’s fatal accident will be ordered to pay damages to the surviving family.

The bereaved can file a claim for the following:

  • Medical costs incurred for the emergency treatment and subsequent hospitalization of the victim
  • Pain and suffering of the deceased and the surviving family
  • Loss of income (especially if the deceased is the breadwinner of the household)
  • Funeral expenses

In most workplace-related wrongful death cases, the employer’s insurance carrier will propose a settlement offer to the family hoping to halt any attempts at a claim.

We recommend declining this settlement because it is most likely less than the actual amount that the deceased’s family is entitled to receive. The next best step is to get in touch with a wrongful death attorney who can determine the maximum compensation you can claim.

Consult Haffner Law’s Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorneys

No amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one, but it is only right to hold the people responsible for your loss accountable for their mistakes and negligence.

Proficient in pursuing claims for workplace-related personal injuries that progress to wrongful death, our personal injury attorneys in L.A. are committed to helping grieving families get their just compensation. If you or someone you know needs help filing a wrongful death claim, we are a phone call and an email away.

Get experienced legal representation today.

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Wrongful Death in Air Accidents: Who Are Accountable?

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When someone confesses to being afraid of flying, the usual rebuttal is, “flying is safer than traveling on land.” The basis for this statement is statistics: data from the National Safety Council website shows that the lifetime odds of dying due to motor vehicle accidents is 1 in 106. The odds for air and space transport accidents, meanwhile, is 1 in 11,175. Simply put, people are more likely to get into car accidents than a plane crash.

The problem is that even though plane crashes seldom happens, they are almost always catastrophic.

This is why plane crashes are always treated as major incidents. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) get involved and often file criminal cases and impose hefty penalties on the airline. Meanwhile, the surviving families of the victims immediately consult wrongful death attorneys to hold the airline accountable for the loss of their loved ones.

In Los Angeles, Haffner Lawyers can represent the families who seek compensation or intend to file lawsuits against the airline and individuals who failed to ensure the safety of their passengers.

Negligence Costs Lives

There are many possible causes for a commercial plane to crash:

  • Pilot error
  • Oversight of the aircrew and/or ground crew
  • Engine and equipment failure
  • Bad weather
  • Negligence of air traffic controllers
  • Non-compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations
  • Other causes (e.g., terrorism, bird strikes)

All of these can be grounds for a wrongful death claim and civil and criminal lawsuits.

Proving Accountability: Who Can You Sue for Wrongful Death in Aviation?

The NTSB and FAA, among others, hold airline companies and specific people to a high standard when it comes to delivering aviation transport services. If they fail to meet those standards, they can be held liable for the repercussions that follow.

The following people and entities may be held accountable for aviation accidents:

  • Carriers or airline companies
  • Airline owner
  • Aircraft owner (for private planes)
  • Aircraft operators
  • Pilots, stewards, and other aircrew members
  • Ground crew
  • Air traffic controllers
  • Regulatory bodies and government agencies

While these people and entities easily come up in aviation lawsuit discussions, it may take some work to prove that any of them are truly liable for the deaths of their passengers.

Like any civil and criminal case, the plaintiff carries the burden of proof in an aviation lawsuit. Plaintiffs and their wrongful death lawyers must prove that the airline or certain individuals (often the captains of the aircraft or the maintenance supervisors on the ground) had been negligent in their duties and that their oversight resulted in the untimely deaths of their passengers. They will need to conduct private investigations or work alongside the police to determine guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, if necessary.

Hire Experienced and Tenacious Wrongful Death Attorneys in Los Angeles

There is very little room for error in air travel. One mistake of an aircraft officer, attendant, or ground crew member can cost hundreds of lives. Should an unfortunate event happen, the surviving families may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim against the people or companies responsible for the incident.

Haffner Law can offer legal advice and represent you in wrongful death claims for aviation accidents. Our attorneys specialize in personal injury cases. Collectively, they have handled hundreds of cases from as early as 1997.

Whether you’re filing a claim against an airline carrier or individual, Haffner Law is steadfast in fighting for the outcome you and your family deserve.

If you need more information about how we handle wrongful death claims for aviation accidents, you can reach us at 213-514-5681 or through online inquiry. Fill out the contact form on our website today.

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If a Personal Injury Victim Dies, Who Gets the Settlement?

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One of the usual questions we get at Haffner Law is if a person who files for personal injury dies, what happens to the case, and, more importantly, who gets the settlement if the court awards it?

Here’s what happens if the plaintiff in a personal injury case succumbs to their injuries and dies before they could settle their claims:

  1. The personal injury case becomes a survival action.
  2. The right to pursue the lawsuit and claim the settlement the plaintiff justly deserves automatically goes to the plaintiff’s estate.

What Is a Survival Action?

A “survival action” focuses on the compensation for the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased or decedent. It preserves the deceased’s rights at the moment of death, including the right to receive just compensation for the injuries they sustained due to the defendant’s negligence. Survival actions are different from wrongful death claims — we’ll discuss this in further detail later in this article.

Who Receives the Settlement for a Survival Action?

As mentioned above, the decedent’s estate becomes responsible for continuing survival actions. This means that the personal representative, who may be the lawyer or executor of the deceased, can push through with the case and receive the settlement for the personal injury claims.

What happens to the money if the court awards the claims in a survival action?

All proceeds in survival actions are subject to inheritance and federal estate taxes. The money can also be used to pay any outstanding financial obligation of the decedent. If there’s still some left after paying off all the tax obligations and creditors, the estate can disburse the money according to the decedent’s last will and testament.

Now for another important question: what if the settlement is just enough to pay off the decedent’s taxes and creditors? Can the decedent’s family who might be dependent on him or her file a claim against the defendant as well? The answer is yes, through a wrongful death lawsuit.

The Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Action

Survival actions are all about a decedent’s right to receive compensation for their personal injury. A wrongful death lawsuit, on the other hand, addresses the right of the surviving family to seek monetary damages for the death of their loved one. It seeks to compensate them for their losses (e.g., loss of income, if the victim is the breadwinner of the family), pain, and expenses for the victim’s medical and funeral bills.

No amount of money can ease the pain of losing someone you love. Settlement for a wrongful death claim can, however, alleviate the financial burden that could fall on the shoulders of the surviving family.

Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Claim?

The plaintiff gets all the proceeds in this case. The question now is who can file a wrongful death claim?

The specifics differ in each state, but federal law generally gives the right to the victim’s parents, spouse, children, or dependents. A domestic partner may also file a wrongful death claim, but only if their state recognizes common-law or same-sex marriage. California is one of those states.

If the decedent has no legal heirs (i.e., both parents have passed, has no children, is not yet married, and did not explicitly name an heir in their last will and testament), no one can be the plaintiff in the wrongful death case, and the defendant can walk free.

Hire an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney

Unlike with survival actions, the damages recovered through wrongful death claims are non-taxable. It is, therefore, an opportunity to fight for the highest wrongful death compensation your family deserves and make the defendant accountable for their negligence. There is, however, the burden of proving that the decedent’s death is due to injury caused by the defendant. You will need a capable, experienced, and fierce wrongful death attorney for this.

You can find such lawyers at Haffner Law. We have attorneys with over 20 years of experience in personal injury cases and have successfully pursued wrongful death claims for clients in California.

Call us at 213-514-5681 to schedule a consultation. You can also speak with our attorneys for a free case review. Fill out the form on our website.

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Common Causes of Trucking Accidents that Result in Wrongful Death

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As one of the country’s largest trucking ports, Long Beach in California is no stranger to truck-related accidents. Although city authorities have made changes to reduce the number of road accidents, these incidents still occur due to the trucking industry’s lax procedures.

Unfortunately, trucking accidents are one of the common causes of wrongful death.

What is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is any fatality caused by negligence or an intentional act (e.g., battery). A wrongful death claim is a civil action that can be filed against the individual or organization liable for the fatality. It can be brought to court by the deceased’s spouse, children, or other close family members.

If you think your loved one’s passing in a truck accident could have been prevented, you might be looking at a wrongful death lawsuit. Learn the triggers of a trucking accident to know who to sue for the death of your family member. And when you discover the reasons, it will be helpful to have a wrongful death lawyer guide you through filing a claim.

Top 5 Reasons Trucking Accidents Happen

Fatigue

Overworked drivers are prone to falling asleep behind the wheel. With demand for shorter delivery times, they find themselves under pressure to drive longer distances with few to no breaks during the journey.

Substance Abuse

Alcohol and illegal drug use are typical in most truck drivers. Driving under the influence of these substances dull their senses and impair their coordination. According to a recent study, drivers take these substances to cope with the loneliness and stress of their occupation.

Speeding and Overtaking

Drivers sometimes have unrealistic delivery deadlines, forcing them to make bad judgement calls on the road. They resort to speeding and overtaking, putting themselves and other motorists in danger.

Distracted Driving

Boredom causes truck drivers to use their phones to communicate with family and friends or find music or podcasts to entertain them. Looking at their phones takes their attention away from the road, increasing the chances of getting into a collision.

Poor Maintenance

The law states that trucks need to be in optimal condition to operate. But some truck owners delay maintenance because of the cost and downtime. They wait until the last minute to have their trucks inspected and repaired so they could increase deliveries. But this puts the vehicles at risk of malfunctioning while traveling at high speed on freeways.

Who is Liable in Trucking Accidents?

Once you’ve determined that your family member’s death was due to negligence, you need to identify who is liable. In truck-related accidents, the fault can fall on four parties:

  • Truck driver
  • Trucking company
  • Owner of the truck
  • Cargo loaders or manufacturer

Determining the responsible party requires investigation. If you want to proceed with the wrongful death claim, you should consider hiring an attorney specializing in wrongful death cases. They know where and what to investigate to tighten your case and raise your chances of getting the right compensation.

Haffner Law can help you and your family move forward and find justice. We provide legal assistance and representation for wrongful death victims’ next of kin. Call 1-844-HAFFNER (4233637) to book an appointment with one of our attorneys today.

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Wrongful Death Due to Truck Accidents: Liability and Claims

wrongful death caused by truck accident

Collisions with commercial trucks can be fatal to motorists and passengers in private vehicles. Sedans and SUVs are often no match against the heft and speed of delivery and cargo trucks, especially 16- and 18-wheelers. As such, the risk of fatalities is high in car crashes involving trucks.

When you or someone you know becomes involved in a fatal truck crash, you should know your rights. Learn the damages you can claim and the possible defendant in your lawsuit, so you can quickly move forward to building your case with your truck accident attorney.

Passenger Vehicles Have the Highest Fatalities in Large Truck Accidents

A recent report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) states that passenger vehicle drivers and passengers had the highest number of deaths in large truck accidents from 1975 to 2018.

Between 2000 and 2018, 66% to 75% of the total annual recorded deaths were occupants of passenger vehicles; 14% to 17% were truck driver occupants, and 9% to 16% were motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

The report also states that in 2018, passenger vehicle occupants constituted 96% of the deaths in two-vehicle crashes involving large trucks and passenger vehicles.

The data proves the immense vulnerability of passenger vehicles in truck collisions. It is one reason truck drivers and employers are held to a high standard of driving ethics and best practices. Truckers are subject to strict government regulations on blood alcohol levels, and employers must comply with the OSHA’s requirements and specifications for vehicle maintenance. If they neglect their responsibilities, they are liable for the oversight that results in a road accident.

Wrongful Death Claims: How Much Can You Claim and Who is Liable?

If you are a surviving family member of a wrongful death victim in a truck crash, you may file a claim against the truck driver or the trucking company.

California’s pure comparative negligence law states that someone involved in a car accident can claim compensation up to the extent of their fault in the incident. For instance, if the jury rules that the truck driver is entirely at fault in a wrongful death accident, you can claim 100% of the compensation awarded by the court. If the jury awards the victim $500,000 in compensation but finds the truck driver only 80% at fault, you will receive only 80% of the amount, or $400,000.

What are the damages you can file? California allows the spouse or domestic partner, children, grandchildren, and other qualified dependents to claim compensation for the following:

  • Burial and funeral costs
  • Medical costs
  • Loss of financial support (if the deceased provided for them )
  • Compensation for grief, pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of parental guidance, and others

There’s also the matter of who will pay the compensation. If the truck driver is an independent contractor, your claims will be filed against his insurance. But if the driver is employed and the company was found to have contributed to the accident due to oversight, the claims will be filed against the company’s insurance.

The pure comparative negligence rule also allows you to file claims on other motorists who are also at fault in the accident.

Our Experienced Truck Accident and Wrongful Death Attorneys at Haffner Law

Filing claims for wrongful death in a truck accident takes a lot of work. You’ll benefit from a truck accident lawyer with plenty of experience in wrongful death claims.

Our attorneys at Haffner Law have decades of experience in handling both wrongful death and truck accident claims. We can help you get the compensation you deserve.

Talk to our lawyers in Los Angeles today. Call 1-844-HAFFNER or 213-514-5681 to schedule a consultation.

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