Finding the Right San Diego Wrongful Death Lawyer: A Guide for Grieving Families

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Wrongful death is a legal concept that refers to the death of a person due to the negligence or wrongful act of another person or entity. In San Diego, wrongful death cases are unfortunately not uncommon.

According to data from the California Department of Public Health, there were over 1,000 wrongful death cases in San Diego County in 2020. This number has remained relatively consistent in recent years.

Legal Framework for Wrongful Death Claims in California

In California, wrongful death claims are governed by the California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 377.60. This statute provides that a wrongful death action may be brought by the following individuals:

  • The surviving spouse of the deceased
  • The children of the deceased
  • The parents of the deceased
  • Any other person who can prove that they have suffered damages as a result of the wrongful death

In order to succeed in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence or wrongful act was the cause of the deceased’s death.

Finding the Right Lawyer

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When seeking compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one, it is crucial to choose an experienced and qualified lawyer in San Diego. A skilled attorney can guide you through the legal process, protect your rights, and maximize your recovery.

Consider the following factors when selecting a lawyer:

  • Track Record: Look for lawyers with a proven history of success in handling wrongful death cases.
  • Reputation: Inquire about the lawyer’s reputation among clients, colleagues, and the legal community.
  • Fees: Discuss fee arrangements upfront, including contingency fees and hourly rates.

To find potential lawyers, explore online directories, ask for referrals from trusted sources, and attend legal events. Interview multiple candidates to assess their experience, communication skills, and compatibility with your needs.

Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim

In order to prove a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must establish the following elements:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased.
  • The defendant breached their duty of care.
  • The defendant’s breach of duty caused the death of the deceased.
  • The plaintiff has suffered damages as a result of the death of the deceased.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Case

The damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death case include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that can be easily calculated, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and funeral expenses. Non-economic damages are those that are more difficult to calculate, such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of consortium.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death in San Diego

Some of the most common causes of wrongful death in San Diego include:

  • Car accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Product liability
  • Workplace accidents

The Legal Process

Navigating the legal process involved in a wrongful death claim can be daunting, but understanding the key steps can empower you to pursue justice for your loved one. The process typically involves filing a complaint, engaging in discovery, and proceeding to trial if necessary.

The plaintiff, or the person bringing the claim, has the burden of proving that the defendant’s negligence or intentional actions caused the death of their loved one. The defendant, on the other hand, will attempt to defend themselves by disputing the allegations or presenting evidence of mitigating circumstances.

Filing a Complaint

The first step in a wrongful death claim is to file a complaint with the court. The complaint should clearly state the legal basis for the claim, identify the parties involved, and specify the damages being sought.


Once a complaint is filed, the parties engage in a process called discovery. During discovery, both sides exchange information and documents relevant to the case. This can include interrogatories (written questions), depositions (oral examinations under oath), and requests for production of documents.


If the parties are unable to reach a settlement during discovery, the case will proceed to trial. At trial, the plaintiff will present evidence to support their claim, while the defendant will present evidence in their defense. The jury or judge will then decide whether the defendant is liable for the death of the plaintiff’s loved one and, if so, the amount of damages to be awarded.

Potential Challenges and Obstacles

The legal process for a wrongful death claim can be complex and time-consuming. There may be challenges and obstacles along the way, such as:

  • Difficulty proving negligence or intent
  • Disputes over the amount of damages
  • Complex legal issues
  • Delays in the legal process

Settlements and Verdicts

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In wrongful death cases, reaching a settlement is often the preferred outcome for both parties. Settlements can save time and money compared to going through a trial, and they allow the parties to avoid the uncertainty of a jury verdict.

Negotiating a settlement in a wrongful death case can be a complex process. The amount of the settlement will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • The strength of the plaintiff’s case
  • The defendant’s liability
  • The extent of the damages
  • The willingness of the parties to settle

If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the case will go to trial. At trial, a jury will decide whether the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s damages and, if so, the amount of damages to be awarded.

Some notable wrongful death settlements and verdicts in San Diego include:

  • In 2016, the family of a man who was killed in a car accident settled with the driver of the other vehicle for $10 million.
  • In 2018, the family of a woman who was killed by a drunk driver settled with the bar that served the driver alcohol for $5 million.
  • In 2020, a jury awarded $10 million to the family of a man who was killed by a defective product.

These are just a few examples of the many wrongful death settlements and verdicts that have been reached in San Diego. The amount of a settlement or verdict will vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

Resources and Support

Families who have lost loved ones in wrongful death cases often face overwhelming emotional and financial challenges. Seeking professional help and support during this difficult time is crucial for navigating the legal process and coping with the loss.

Support Groups

– The Wrongful Death Support Group: Provides a safe and supportive space for families to connect, share experiences, and receive guidance.
– The Compassionate Friends: Offers support, understanding, and resources for grieving families who have lost a child.
– GriefShare: A faith-based support group that provides a safe environment for individuals to express their grief and receive support.

Professional Help

– Therapists and counselors: Can provide emotional support, grief counseling, and coping mechanisms.
– Financial advisors: Can assist with managing the financial challenges associated with wrongful death, such as funeral expenses and loss of income.
– Legal professionals: Can provide guidance and support throughout the legal process, ensuring that the family’s rights are protected.

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