The Most Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases

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Losing a loved one is difficult for numerous reasons. First, grief can make it challenging for survivors to function as they normally would. Another reason is the financial burden they will have to take on. Apart from the funeral expenses, the survivors will have to deal with the loss of income from their deceased family member.

While the death of a loved one is hard to bear in and of its own, it can be more difficult when it’s caused by someone’s carelessness and negligence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional injury is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. This number shows that wrongful death is a common occurrence. Typically, it occurs as a result of:

  1. Medical Malpractice

Health care providers must be well-trained and have various qualifications before practicing professionally. What’s more, hospitals have several safety protocols in place to protect their patients. In spite of these measures, doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners sometimes commit mistakes in the form of:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Delayed or incorrect treatment
  • Surgical or pharmaceutical errors
  • Defective medical devices or medications
  • Birth injury
  • Hospital negligence
  • Lack of informed consent

These errors occur when health care professionals don’t follow correct procedures or completely miss something. Unfortunately, these mistakes can be fatal.

  1. Vehicular Accidents

The most common cause of wrongful death, vehicular accidents resulted in 3,563 fatalities in California in 2018. While not all incidents of vehicular mishaps happen because of negligence, most are the result of someone’s carelessness. One or both drivers could be speeding, not paying attention to the road, or driving under the influence. When this carelessness results in the death of other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians, the negligent driver is liable.

Semi-truck accidents have their own sub-category, though they are still considered vehicular accidents. However, the circumstances that lead to accidents involving these types of vehicles slightly differ from accidents involving regular-sized, smaller vehicles. Semi-truck accidents, for example, typically occur because of driving with an oversized load, driving while fatigued, or mechanical issues that lead to losing control of the truck

  1. Unsafe Workplace

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA), there were 5,250 workplace fatalities in the U.S. in 2018. Unsurprisingly, the highest occurrence of workplace fatality happened in construction workplaces. One in five workplace fatalities occurred in the high-risk construction industry.

However, wrongful death can occur even in corporate offices and outside of work. For example, an office employee fatally slipping and falling on a wet patch on the floor without proper caution signs can be considered a wrongful death.

  1. Defective Products

Every manufacturer has a duty to ensure that their products undergo quality control and are therefore safe for consumers to use. If a defective product makes it into the market, it can be dangerous to users – even when used correctly. Some products that can lead to fatalities when defective include children’s toys, drugs, and vehicles. In case the use of these products caused someone’s death, the manufacturer will be held liable for the fatality.

Take Action Against a Loved One’s Wrongful Death

It’s difficult to lose a loved one because of somebody else’s negligence. But, you can get compensation to ease some of your burdens. Haffner Law is a trusted firm in California that offers wrongful death assistance. Our wrongful death lawyers in Long Beach are highly-experienced to help you file for various claims.

Get in touch with one of our attorneys today. Contact 1-844-HAFFNER (423-3637) for a free consultation.

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Proving Negligence in California Wrongful Death Claims

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The loss of a loved one is difficult unto itself, but their unexpected loss, especially because of someone’s negligence, can be harder to come to terms with. Apart from the grief and emotional trauma the decedent’s survivors may face, they also have financial burdens to worry about.

Fortunately, you can file for a wrongful death claim in California, which can provide compensation and ease your financial hardship. However, you must establish or prove the other party’s negligence before you can be awarded compensation. This is where having a wrongful death attorney comes in handy in Los Angeles. They can offer legal assistance and help you prove the following things:

  1. Duty of care
  2. Breach of Duty/Negligence
  3. Causation

These are the three elements you, the plaintiff, must prove so you can be compensated for the damages incurred from your loved one’s death, including loss of financial support, funeral expenses, and other damages depending on the context of the case.

Proving Duty of Care

There isn’t a specific legal definition of duty of care in California. However, duty of care typically refers to a party’s responsibility to exercise reasonable care to ensure the safety of and prevent foreseeable harm to other people. For instance, a person driving a car should exercise duty of care, ensuring that they are being a responsible driver so as not to crash into other vehicles or hit a pedestrian.

In a wrongful death case in California, the judge will decide whether duty of care was owed to the victim by the defendant. In deciding, they will usually rely on what is called the Rowland factors. This includes the foreseeability of harm, the certainty of suffering from harm, and the connection of the defendant’s action to the harm that occurred.

Proving Breach of Duty 

If the judge determines that duty of care was owed to your deceased loved one, you must now present evidence that the other party breached that duty. In short, you must prove that they were negligent, and this negligence contributed to or resulted in the death of your loved one. Under California laws, negligence is the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to oneself or to others.

Continuing with the example above, you must present evidence that the other party was either driving drunk, not paying attention to the road, or was distracted, therefore being negligent. To successfully prove this, you must be able to convince the jury that your evidence and version of the incident is more than 50 percent likely to be the truth.

Proving Causation

If you successfully prove the defendant’s breach of duty, the final hurdle is to prove that their negligence directly caused harm to your deceased loved one. Going by the above example, there needs to be substantial evidence that the driver’s actions or lack thereof lead to them fatally hitting your loved one.

This is why it is essential to preserve evidence. Depending on the circumstances of the case, proving causation can be tricky. A wrongful death lawyer can collect and go over pieces of evidence, like medical reports, accident records, and other documentation, and then connect these pieces of evidence to the death of your loved one, proving the defendant negligent.

Receive Reliable Wrongful Death Assistance

At Haffner Law, our wrongful death attorneys can help you file for a wrongful death claim and secure comprehensive compensation for the death of your loved one.

To speak with an attorney, contact 1-844-HAFFNER today.

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Dangerous Load: Examining the Spike in U.S. Truck Accident Deaths

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Trucking continues to be the most popular job in the country, particularly in states like California and Texas. In 2016, the number of truck drivers in the country reached 3.5 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s understandable, as about 71% of products moved in America involves trucking. And according to the American Trucking Associations, the industry needs almost a million more drivers to keep up with rising demand.

Although this job seems one of the more promising careers that wouldn’t disappear any time soon, it is also one of the most dangerous in the United States.

Trucking Dangers

Over 4,889 fatal crashes in the United States in 2017 involved large trucks and buses, according to the latest data by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The agency pointed out in their fact sheet about truck fatalities that this figure is a 9% increase from the previous year. It’s also a 42% jump from 2009’s 3,432 truck and bus crash-related deaths. Injuries related to truck and bus crashes saw an increase of about 4% from 2016 to 2017.

According to data gathered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), most of these deaths are passenger vehicle occupants. But truck drivers are also at great risk. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that there were more than 918 driver fatalities in 2016, which was significantly higher than any of the other entries. Farmers came in second at 260 fatalities and grounds maintenance workers third at 217.

What makes this profession risky?

Truck Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers are often paid by the miles they travel to deliver a load. The BLS states that companies usually have a rate of $0.28 to 0.40 per mile.  As such, truckers need to cover large distances to make ends meet.

Drivers are also given strict delivery times. This may cause them to get only a few hours of sleep or none at all just to meet the demand.

Poor food options from bus stops may not give them the nutrients they need as well, to sustain them through the night. And there’s also the physically demanding task of loading and unloading goods to their trailers.

These all contribute to truck driver fatigue, which may cause a driver to respond slower to objects on the road, make poor driving decisions, or worse, fall asleep on the wheel, according to the National Academies Press.

While over one in 25 people in the U.S. experience drowsy driving, it’s significantly more dangerous when a truck driver dozes off while on the road. A 40-ton eighteen-wheeler pushing 65 to 70 miles per hour on a Los Angeles freeway can cause significant damage to a 1.39-ton car and the people inside it in the event of a collision.

If you’ve been injured by a drowsy truck driver, it’s important to have a truck accident lawyer on speed dial to ensure that you get medical and financial compensation as soon as possible.

Trucking contributes so much to the American economy. But it can’t be ignored that truck accidents are significant problems in the country, too. The FMCSA recently released a checklist for drivers to follow to avoid fatigue. Furthermore, researchers around the world are also doing studies to learn what constitutes driver fatigue, its causes and effects,  and how it can be avoided. You can never be too safe on the road.

Have an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer on Your Side

If you get into a truck accident in Los Angeles and its neighboring cities, Haffner Law’s team of litigators will help you get compensation for the damages you incurred. We’ll help you file a personal injury claim and provide aggressive representation in court. We’ll work closely with you to ensure that your case yields a favorable outcome.

Contact us at 1-844-HAFFNER and 213-514-5681 today for a free case review from one of our experienced attorneys.

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What Happens When You File A Wrongful Death Claim?

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Losing a loved one because of someone else’s negligence is devastating. However, a family member can file for a wrongful death claim against the party responsible for the fatality. While it will not bring the loved one back, it can bring a sense of justice for the death and also help with financial matters that may arise from the loss.

When you’ve finally decided to file suit against the person or persons who may have caused your loved one’s demise, the most important thing to do is find a good attorney that can help you file the wrongful death complaint. They will assist you in preparing your case for the court.

What are the elements of a wrongful death lawsuit?

Laws regarding wrongful death vary slightly in different states. However, in California, there are three essential elements in a wrongful death complaint.

  • Death of a person – A plaintiff must establish that a person has died. If a person who was allegedly involved in a wrongful death is seriously injured but is still alive, then the plaintiff cannot file for wrongful death.
  • Negligence – The plaintiff must prove that it is because of the defendant’s negligence that someone died. There must be a betrayal of a certain level of care that is required from the defendant (i.e. a car driver falling asleep or a doctor dispensing the wrong medicine).
  • Plaintiff’s loss of relationship with decedent – This is usually considered by the courts to determine the amount of damages it will reward to the plaintiff if the defendant is proven guilty. The courts will review if the plaintiff was financially dependent on the deceased loved one.

How much is the amount of damages rewarded to the plaintiff?

Suppose the defendant is proven guilty of negligence, how much compensation will the plaintiff be able to claim? It is the court’s duty to decide how much the family will receive by considering various factors:

  • Funeral and burial expenses for the deceased
  • Salary background of the deceased, which will be determined by their educational background and work history.
  • Future salary of the person had they been alive, including future raises and bonuses they might have received.
  • Potential income of the person based on their life expectancy and overall health.
  • Non-monetary contributions to the family, such as helping in household chores and caring for children.
  • Hospital expenses prior to the death and the pain the deceased might have experienced during their final days.

The courts will also consider intangible losses for the family such as:

  • Loss of relationship
  • Loss of moral support
  • Loss of guidance
  • Loss of attention and many other emotional losses

What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim?

Depending on the state’s law, there is a limited window of opportunity during which the plaintiff can file for a wrongful death complaint. In many states, the statute of limitations is usually two years or less.

If the plaintiff fails to file a complaint before the statute of limitations expires, they will forfeit the right to recover damages. This is why it is important to consult your legal counsel as early as possible to prepare your case. Although no amount of money can ever compensate for the value of a loved one’s life, the damages that will be awarded to the family can lighten the weight of their financial burden associated with the passing as well as help them in starting anew.

Where to seek legal assistance?

Haffner Law is a trusted law firm in California that is experienced with helping individuals file for various claims, including wrongful death and life insurance.

Get in touch with one of our lawyers today. Call 1-844-HAFFNER (423-3637) or contact us for a free consultation.

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The Worsening Condition of California’s Roads and its Effect on Drivers

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Bad roads in California are proving to be more than just a driving hassle; it costs a significant amount of money.

The worse-for-wear roads in Los Angeles alone are costing drivers in the state $2,995 annually in operating expenses, according to the DC-based research firm TRIP. These expenditures include wasted time and fuel during congested hours, repairs from driving on rough roads, and possible bills related to traffic accidents. The TRIP research found that the city’s drivers collectively lose $61 billion because of these poorly-maintained roads.

A Recipe for Disaster

TRIP said that an overwhelming 87% of major roads and highways in the San Francisco-Oakland area are in mediocre or poor condition.  The same goes for 60% of the roads in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim area.

What’s worse is that the state’s bridges, which carry thousands of cars over vast bodies of water every day, are among the oldest in the nation. About 56% of them are at least 50 years old. More than 77 of the bridges are considered to be structurally deficient, which means their surfaces and support are starting to deteriorate.

Zooming in on crash costs, TRIP said the average driver who goes through Los Angeles roads spend at least $299 every year because of traffic accidents. This figure takes into account the cost of hospitalization, legal representation, rehabilitation, property damage, and productivity losses.

Are State Efforts Enough?

California is working to improve its roads, but a Los Angeles Times report stated they might be doing it inefficiently. The news outlet noted that some officials aren’t convinced by California’s move to hike up the gas tax to repair or replace its bridges. They cited data from the Federal Highway Administration showing that the number of bridges in poor condition increased since the implementation of the tax hike.

They’re not wrong. The state has been putting many road projects on hold, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. Its 2018 infrastructure report card showed that the state has a total maintenance backlog of $137 billion, with $57 billion coming from the deferred projects of California’s Department of Transportation.

Solving the Accountability Problem

When you or a loved one gets into a car accident involving a poorly-maintained or designed road, it’s often difficult to sue the agencies in charge of it and hold them accountable. State and federal governments have sovereign immunity that protects them from lawsuits. But if you can prove that the agency in charge knew about the road’s issues and didn’t act on them, you can sue that establishment. If you lost a loved one to such accidents, a wrongful death lawyer could help you gather evidence to prove and file your claim.

Roads are among California’s most valuable assets, as $2.8 trillion goods are moved through it, TRIP stated. Intensifying problems like congestion and road deterioration will likely worsen the state’s transportation network. It’s a vicious cycle, too, as more vehicles going through this network will only damage the roads further. As such, every driver and passenger should stay cautious each time they’re on the road.

Have a Professional Wrongful Death Attorney on Your Side

American roads, especially ones in California, are dangerous to drive on. Accidents involving faulty road maintenance and distracted drivers are a harsh reality that residents have to face. If you lost a loved one because of these issues, Haffner Law could help you find justice. We are experienced in handling wrongful death lawsuits and other personal injury cases. Our team of lawyers will guide you through the process of filing a claim and provide you with adequate representation in court.

Contact us at 213-514-5681 or 844-HAFFNER today to schedule your free case review.