DUI – A Tragic Cause of Passenger Car Crashes

Attorney Michael Ehline

Attorney Michael Ehline

One of the most tragic causes of accidents on the road today is drunk or influenced driving. Despite all of the warnings and research, people still get behind the wheel of a car under the influence every single day. These accidents represent a large portion of the crashes across the country every year and represent both civil and criminal offenses. Unfortunately, it is still a reality and one that hopefully most drivers never have to face.

Violating the Law

If someone is drinking and driving, they’re violating California law. The California Vehicle Code Sec 23152 states: (a) It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.

The law is also clear about what represents vehicles driven under the influence. According to the California Vehicle Code, even a bicycle is a vehicle that can be included as a crime. California Vehicle Code Sec 670 states: A “vehicle” is a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks. There are many vehicles that drivers can be cited for in a DUI case- all the more reason to drive sober.

Sobering Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012 over 10,000 drivers were killed due to drunk driving across the country. The rate of death in the state of California is about 0.28- lower than the national average but still high in overall traffic fatality rates. Unfortunately, it is sometimes a dangerous road out there for drivers.

In higher traffic areas, such as the Greater Los Angeles Area, there is a higher than average rate of DUI accidents. Unfortunately, this could include multiple cars and possibly pile ups. DWIs cost far too many lives, especially for vulnerable car and motorcycle motorists. Due to high rates of speed and poor control, often there are severe issues commonly caused by such accidents.

Acting After an Accident

After such an accident, it is important to act quickly. Seek immediate medical care and make sure to document as much as you can at the crash site. The drunk driver should also be held to account. The driver may be facing criminal charges for a DUI or DWI, but there should be a civil punishment for their actions as well. If it can be proven that the other driver was under the influence, making sure that they are held responsible can be your contribution to society. Your actions could prevent another accident down the line and save another family heartbreak.

Making sure that you have an experienced legal advocate by your side is one of your first steps. A legal expert, such as one from the Ehline Law Firm PC that is also specialized in car accidents and DWIs will be able to point you in the right directions. We’ve handled hundreds of similar cases, winning results for our clients. Feel free to call us any time day or night at 888-400-9721.

DMV Penalties

The driver under the influence can be faced with civil penalties if the victim decides to proceed, criminal charges from a prosecutor for their actions, or the revocation of their license by the DMV.

Watch below to see an example of a DMV administrative hearing:

Drivers that were under the influence has ten business days to request an administrative hearing with the DMV. If they do not, they face a permanent suspension of their driver’s license through automatic suspension. Facing a DMV hearing, normal court rules of evidence do not apply. The accused is not allowed to plead the 5th Amendment and could be coerced by a prosecutor to accidentally imply guilt. The hearing officer just needs to verify that the arresting agency had a reasonable belief that the rider was intoxicated or under the influence, that the accused committed the offense, and that the arrest was made pursuant to the law.

The last thing the hearing will determine is if the driver had a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher, as seen in CVC Section 23152. The accused that are not represented by a legal eye often lose these hearings and have to pay significant penalties, both financial and otherwise.

Criminal Prosecution

Many accused drunk drivers are accused of their alleged crime in court. They face DUI accusation for their actions and face a potential bias by possible jurors, other drivers, and the police. Many accused of such a crime feel as though they have nowhere to turn and can face up to a three year probation, AA meetings, fines, MADD classes, trash pick up, or other penalties for a first offense causing no injuries.

If the accident caused injury or death, the alleged can face severe penalties. Drinking and driving is such a severe issue on the road that any sympathy is not to be expected.

Civil Claims

Even after facing the DMV and the criminal court, the accused may also face a claim in civil court. Those injured by the drunk driver could be brought up in court for liability questions. They could be sued for negligence for not having insurance or not having enough coverage. The victim is likely to ask for their pain and suffering, medical bills, and therapy to be covered by the other driver.

Avoiding Drunk Driving Accidents

By no means a foolproof process, there are some manners to avoid such an accident in the future. Keeping an eye out for drivers making wide turns, going into both lanes, sudden braking, driving very fast or slow, driving the wrong way, or other actions can be considered telltale signs of drunk driving.

But remember not to drink at all. If you do, make sure to have a designated driver or call a taxi, limo, or bus.

Contact a Legal Professional

Skilled attorneys have seen it all and are ready to help. If you have been injured in a severe car accident caused by alcohol or accused of such a crime, Ehline Law can help. Our experience in hundreds of similar cases have gotten results. We stand ready to hear your case 24/7 and to assist. For more information, please fill out the email form to the right or call us at 888-400-9721.

Common Causes of Car Accidents

Attorney Michael Ehline

Attorney Michael Ehline

Since most drivers are out on the road nearly every day, it is important to be cognizant of the risk of an accident. Accidents are rare for individual drivers, but statistically are very frequent. Being able to determine some of the common features between such accidents and how to prevent future accidents. You won’t be able to avoid all of them, but tips like these sure help.

Not Driving Defensively

Many accidents happen when other drivers are driving aggressively, causing issues on the road. Many try to dominate lanes or tailgate other drivers. Making sure to de-escalate the situation by driving defensively can help. You can receive low cost classes on how to do so and also reduce your insurance rate.

Low Speed Crashes are Common

While many of the most severe crashes happen at high speed, many are at 30 miles per hour or lower. Some are simply unavoidable or the result of factors such as weather or faulty parts or manufacture. Driving a little under the speed limit or as circumstances allow can further reduce the risk of crash.

Drunk and Impaired Drivers

Drunk and impaired drivers make the roadways much less safe. A NHTSA report indicated that over 8% of drivers at any time could have alcohol in their systems. It’s hard to avoid those driving under the influence, but they are a common sight, unfortunately and a common source of accidents.

Using Proper Safety Gear

Make sure that your airbags are properly functioning and that you and your passengers buckle up for every single ride. Make sure that your lights are properly working and not causing issues on the road.

Solo Accidents

Many car accidents are as the result of a driver falling asleep, losing control of the wheel, or facing other issues. Keep aware of your surroundings at all time.


The more time on the road, often the safer the driver is behind the wheel. Facing many types of situations over years makes a driver much less likely to get into a crash and avoid issues with other drivers.

Elements Out of Your Control

There are many factors that a driver cannot always control. Some include obvious ones, including weather. However, in other cases, faulty parts or maintenance can cause severe accidents when they are least expected. There could also be road or signage defects that spark crashes (Read More.)

Skilled Attorneys Can Answer Questions

Often one of the most potent tools for both preventing and responding to accidents is the word of an experienced attorney. A lawyer that has seen it all before could explain how different accidents occur and the cases they’ve seen in the past. Ehline Law’s skilled team is available for advice or to review any possible claims you may have. Please email us using the form on the right or call us at 888-400-9721 any time of the day.

Where Fault Lies in Animal Injuries

Dog bite liability

Dog attack cases

The ability to own a pet, especially one that could be a danger to the public, is a special privilege. These trusted companions are often around for the growth of a new family and to provide comfort for people throughout their lives. However, some pets and other owned animals have been known for causing significant disruption and even an injury like those discussed here. When an animal does cause such an accident, who bears the brunt of the responsibility?

California Animal Negligence Law

California is clear about who is responsible for the animal’s behavior. If a dog bites a child or a cow enters into a road and is struck, the owner is usually considered responsible. Their negligence created the situation that led to injury and often can be held to account in court. This can be seen in California animal law, which states in part that owners “shall not willfully or negligently permit any of the livestock to stray upon, or remain unaccompanied by a person in charge or control of the livestock upon, a public highway” if it can be avoided. Further law makes it clear that the owner is the most commonly at-fault party in an accident such as this.

Furthermore, this issue is similar in cases of animals biting others. If an animal, often a dog is involved in such an altercation, California law also states that the owner takes primary responsibility for such an event. In either case, these laws and case precedent shows the incredible responsibility that a person undertakes when they take on any type of animal. Their proper care and control can make the difference between a severe bite injury or car accident.

If you have been involved in an accident or animal attack due to such a circumstance, the need for an attorney that understands California law and the responsibilities of the animal owner is clear. Ehline Law’s reputation in Southern California has been built upon their victories for injury victims and in making sure that justice is done.

How To Know What Your Rights Are When A Plane Crashes

Auto Accident Case ValueAs noted in the above video, if someone you loved has died or got severely injured in a plane crash, you must be looking for some way to find justice. There are rarely any survivors in plane crashes and almost every plane crash ends up with everyone on the plane dead. There can be hundreds and thousands of reasons for a plane crash and you as a person sitting at home or working at the office might never know the real reason behind a downing. This is the scenario that makes these cases extremely difficult. However, there are still lawyers out there who can help you with these situations.

Why the “Plane Crash Case” Is So Difficult?

Any case can become a difficult case when the real offender or at-fault party is obscured. When a plane crashes there could be hundreds of contributing factors to the accident. Negligence of the pilot is one and same carelessness from the airline traffic controllers is another. But these are not the only reasons of a catastrophe. A plane could crash due to some defect in its design or defective parts in its engine. An airline could be blamed for the negligence of the pilot if the pilot is known for being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The recruiting airline must always have strict tests to ensure that its pilots are following the codes and guidelines of flying a plane. It has also been noticed that some pilots have to fly aircraft like helicopters, and even experimental aircraft such as VSTOL or VTOL craft, without getting enough rest between their shifts. However, all these factors are extremely difficult to prove when the platform and structures have crashed, been burned, scattered, mangled and even lost. Of course, there are also no witnesses usually, since most of the time, all the people aboard have died. When you look at an aircraft as a whole, there could be more than dozen companies involved in the manufacturing of various parts installed.

Lastly, there is an instance in which the plane is hijacked by the hijackers. Only an experienced attorney can help you best with your case. If you are living in US you can easily find a law firm with experienced attorneys www.ehlinelaw.com who can help you with your plane crash case.

An Example Of Recent Airplane Mishap

The recent disappearance of AirAsia flight QZ8501 is another instance where an airplane completely disappeared, leaving people in awe and intrigue as to what actually would have happened to the plane. It is said that the pilot was requesting to go on a very rare and peculiar route just before the plane lost contact and disappeared. This could be a possible hijack since hijackers often force pilots to take a certain course in the air and reach their desired destination. To this day, no one knows what happened to flight QZ8501 and officials of the airline can only be seen apologizing for the loss.

What really made people feel awkward about this particular case is that just in March of 2014 an airplane of Malaysian Airlines had disappeared and a few days after this incident the magazine of AirAsia said something that sounded like a pun on the missing flight’s airline. The magazine stated that AirAsia trains its pilots so strictly that they can never “lose” a plane. However, the CEO had to apologize and clarify that the magazine had already gone through the printing stage when the Malaysian Airline’s flight disappeared.

How To Hire An Attorney In This Scenario

First, look for the most reputable law firms in your area and the most experienced lawyers to stand for you in this case. As mentioned above, these cases can be extremely difficult to prove. Not to mention, you don’t have any information about the last minutes of the transmission between the plane and the control tower and you are standing against a huge conglomerate. Go for law firms that have their own aviation attorneys who know the procedures to collect evidences in aviation cases and know how investigation is conducted in these cases.

These attorneys also have access to the records of government agencies that are investigating these cases.  Always make sure to visit the website of the law firm and see if the firm has already been handling any plane crash cases. Cases involving lost luggage and other similar small cases are not good enough to prove that a lawyer would be able to go much distance in the plane crash case.

Wrongful Death Law Basics

Attorney Michael Ehline

Attorney Michael Ehline

The definition of a wrongful death lawsuit begins with the death of a person who dies due to the negligence or carelessness of another person, a company, manufacturer or entity. This type of death can be challenged in a court of law by the immediate family or a personal representative of the deceased, in order to hold the negligent party responsible for the death. Most commonly, the immediate family that files the wrongful death lawsuit with the assistance of a wrongful death attorney will be a surviving spouse, children of the deceased, parents, and in some cases grandparents or another family member directly affected by the death.

Possible Types of Wrongful Death

There are some common types of situations that can be responsible for the wrongful death of a person.  They include:

Motor vehicle accidents that are caused due to careless or reckless behavior on the roadway that results in the death of another person. This can involve car, motorcycle, bus and big rig accidents. Pedestrian and bicycle accidents that result in death due to negligence of a motor vehicle driver. Bicycle accidents resulting in death might also be due to a manufacturer or company’s poor design or defective parts.
Defective products can place the company or manufacturer as a negligent party when the product was poorly designed or had a defect, or there was a failure to warn of dangers associated with a product, which was directly responsible for the death of a consumer.

This can be an electronic product that is defective, a motor vehicle defective part or aftermarket part or even a motorcycle with a poor design. Recalled products including medications can also be responsible for a wrongful death, and the manufacturer can be held negligent.
Medical malpractice can be responsible for the death of a person.  The death may be caused by medical practices, medical procedures by an inexperienced or untrained medical professional, inappropriate care in conjunction with other medical professionals, and other types of medical errors.

Workplace negligence can result in a wrongful death when there is improper maintenance of equipment, hazardous conditions are present, or hazardous substances are used without proper protection and ventilation. Airplane and bus accidents caused by operator error, reckless behavior, or lack of proper maintenance that results in a death.Dog bite attacks can result in a wrongful death, and the owner can be held accountable for their animal’s actions if the canine is not properly restrained or contained.

Criminal Behavior or Actions

Wrongful death lawsuits have time constraints.  The lawsuit must be filed within the legal time limit in order to be accepted by the court.

Understanding Pecuniary Loss

Punitive damages are a part of the wrongful death lawsuit when the acts were reckless, grossly negligent or intentional and have caused the death of another person. This part of the claim will consider the age of the victim; their earning capacity, if an adult; medical costs, funeral costs, and other expenses. This is a way to punish the negligent party and to avoid similar actions in the future. This is a monetary amount that the jury awards, but when it is excessive the judge presiding over the lawsuit can reduce the amount that is awarded.

Understanding Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are money that is awarded by the jury or a judge to repay the victim’s family for the funeral, burial costs, any medical care and other expenses that were incurred as a direct result of the wrongful death. These damages will include the lost income the victim would have earned if they had lived, which can be projected for decades depending on the age of the victim at the time of their death. There can be compensation awarded for housekeeping, child care, grief and loss of companionship, along with other damages.

The Use of Experts

Experts are often used in a wrongful death lawsuit.  They can be used to help prove the effect of the loss of the victim and the victim’s worth to the family. This can include experts for the victim that did not work outside of the home and can be especially important for the jury. Not all jurors will have a clear understanding of what the expenses can be for loss of the housekeeping and child care provider. Expert testimony can assist the jury in determining the amount of damages that should be awarded to the survivors of the wrongful death victim.

Wrapping Up the Fundamentals of Wrongful Death Law and Getting a Personal Injury Lawyer

Understanding wrongful death law is only the first step.  The fundamentals of wrongful death lawsuits basically get your foot into the courthouse door and clearly set up a road map for success for the tort victim.  You [the victim] still need a veteran attorney with vast legal experience as your wrongful death attorney, when you suffer the serious loss of a loved one or a family.  There are many methods of doing this.  You can go online and do a search.  For example, if you live in Los Angeles, you could do a search for Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys.  If you live is San Francisco, you would do the same search, but use “San Francisco” as your keywords.

Your doctor may try to set you up with a lawyer at the hospital.  Be very careful, as there is probably something in it for the doctor beyond just a hand shake from the lawyer.  Good lawyers try to reduce hospital and doctor bills.  If there isn’t an arms’-length relationship, the ethics of such a deal can be called into question.

You can call a non-practicing TV or “picture on bench or bus” lawyer who could refer you to another inexperienced lawyer for a fee.  Or a friend could tell you about a lawyer.  The problem is that you only get one person’s view.  Instead, look at the user reviews online of different accident attorneys.  Vet your lawyer and make sure he or she can wrap up your case and MAX your verdict or settlement. Make sure you hire a motorcycle lawyer for a death of a biker, and an airplane accident lawyer for an aviation related accident, for example.

Can I Sue a Driverless Google Street View Car for Hitting My Dog?

Road Kill

Doggy run over by Google car

Amid speculation by some that Google driverless vehicles might just bankrupt personal injury attorneys, others are saying, “hey, not so fast.” More and more, we are hearing stories of forced wage increases for fast food workers by politicians trying to get re elected, and a backlash by employers. One recent trend is to outsource jobs to business friendly countries that honor job creators. Another reaction for many service businesses, is employers turning to automated equipment and technology just to avoid the ever increasing government encroachment into their feast or famine businesses.  Even Google, heavily invested in the progressive wing of the democrat party, seemingly is leading the way to replace the human element with technology.

Good or bad, the old model of forming unions, demanding benefits and other free stuff from people giving you a chance to gain work experience, especially for our youth, is falling apart. The new future for America is technology, not necessarily spending a large part of your life on a utopian college campus. Robert Kiasaki explained this years ago, but it appears that the need for re-election votes is fueling the decline of employer, employee relationships at a faster rate than technology is probably ready for.

So naturally, entrepreneurs that are seeking to achieve what is left of the American Dream are having to come up with creative ways of surviving these days. One example is in grocery store self checkouts. Cashiers are expensive when compared to grocers, for example. Consumers like me find it to be a hassle, so we stand in line to have a human cashier help us, as these self checkers remain unused in some cases. Of course, once the technology is improved, the goods will be automatically charged when you place them in your shopping cart, and the human cashier will be looking for another job. In other words, once the hassle factor is removed from technological advances, shoppers simply won’t miss the human cashier anymore.

In my last article dealing with Google’s new driverless vehicles, I discussed the potential driverless vehicle downside to PI attorneys, as well as the car accident field of PI law in general. I went into the fact that Google and other companies perhaps could even shield themselves from legal liability by forming partnerships with the government, similar to the Metrolink and Metro Rail systems. Then, a few weeks ago, I ran across another tragic story involving a Google driverless vehicle running over and killing a dog. That really got me thinking about my kids, especially small toddlers that are too small or low to the ground to be picked up by the current sensing technology.

In any event, this gives me a chance to discuss California law as it relates to the negligent killing of a family pet, using this latest and strange example of what seems to be coming our way with technological advances. The facts relate that Google is investigating itself over a “Street View Car” that ran over a doggy in Chile.  Mapping the world is one of Google’s special features that other search engines and mapmakers do not have. In this case, images from a Street View car in Chile shows what appears to be a camera carrying vehicle running over a dog and leaving it for dead.

The scene can be watched shot by shot on Google Maps by following the Meza Bell 2815. The dog is shown walking in front of the car and then the rear facing camera shows the canine lying on the road without movement. Even following the zoom view back as far as it can go, the dog still does not get up off the roadway. Upon closer inspection, in one image the dog can be seen moving, but not getting up. This means it could either be severely injured or lying on the pavement for enjoyment. The other thing that can be seen is a person, who does not rush to the canine. This may mean one of two things.

Either the dog was not hit, or it is in an area where there is a large population of stray dogs and it is not unusual for one to be hit. Google has stated that it is investigating the images of the camera vehicle and dog to see what happened. They said they have guidelines in place to protect people and animals while mapping locations around the world.
The search engine company stated this type of alleged incident is not uncommon. January of last year a camera vehicle was accused of hitting a donkey in Botswana when images of the Street View showed the donkey walking along side of the vehicle and then lying on the ground. Google proved the images were not what they appeared to be and it was not a hit and run incident. Go here to view some more of the disturbing pictures.

Who Do I Sue If Google Runs Over My Pet?

Assuming arguendo in this case that the incident took place in California, and it could be proved that your family dog, or cat was killed by a Google Driverless Vehicle, then what? Assuming there was no alliance between the state, local or federal government that would shorten the time for you to file a government claim, potential defendants would include Google, the government, manufacturers and producers of the car and sensing equipment, and any other party in the chain of commerce that brought the vehicle to the end user. If there was an occupant in the car with the ability to control or co pilot the car, then the occupant is also a potential defendant for all damages that were foreseeable.


What Kind of Damages Can I Get If Google Runs Over My Animal in California?

For purposes of this discussion, we will limit this discourse to California law, since I am only licensed to practice in this state. Under California law, an animal is considered property, so it is treated as “economic” damages ONLY. This means you can recover costs of the economic losses associated with the animal. Some cases involving the loss of an animal can be quite significant. A prize horse run over by a Google car could result in millions of dollars in economic losses for the market replacement value. It could turn out that the age, breed, training, purchase price, characteristic or other trait, gave it some extra-ordinary value. We can imagine a specially trained guard, seeing eye, or show dog that does AKC shows would have special value, and they do. But again, this is economic value, not sentimental value, which is pretty intangible when it comes to “property.”

A donkey being run over by a driver-less vehicle, is probably worth very little. If the donkey is used for work, the replacement value of the donkey, and lost work can be argued as damages. In most of the common cases, cars run over stray, or family dogs and cats. May drivers typically swerve to avoid animals crossing the road. And with good reason, California criminal statutes seek to prosecute people that violate the rights of animals. Some prosecutorial agencies, such as the City of Los Angeles, actually have their own “Animal Protection Units.”

The Vehicle Code also comes into play here, and seeks to maintain safe driving for the conditions presented on the road. Sometimes not swerving could be animal abuse, other times not swerving could result in a negligent chain collision, or a vehicle pile-up placing the driver civilly liable. In other words, the driver is expected to be mindful of all of this, because we are all”presumed to know the law.” The damages available sometimes will come in the form of a probation agreement and court order to pay as part of probation. These damages are in the form of “restitution.” These are typically what we see in DUI accident cases, when a drunk driver has to pay back the other crash victims or face “working it off” in jail.

Other damages you can seek as a grieving victim, could be the veterinarian bills for example. In some California jurisdictions, we have even seen awards that appear to be for “sentimental”, or peculiar value, which is something that most pet owning victims “really” want to begin with. In one unique case, a California jury found in favor of the plaintiff, and found that the dog was only worth ten dollars “replacement” value.  But clearly, the jury was moved and wanted to find a way to send a message of sympathy. In that case, the trier of fact awarded an additional $30,000 for the “special value” of the dog, whatever that is. California law allows such an award if an item has “peculiar value” to the owner, and the person who harmed it knew that fact. But each case is different, and the cause of the death of the dog was due to veterinary malpractice.

Unless you can show some kind of special duty, as above, it is unlikely the loss of your dog will result in this types of peculiar value claims from what I am seeing in most jurisdictions however. Punitive damages and emotional distress are the newer forms of damages that creative lawyers are seeking to increase the value of these cases. Insurance companies, and house counsel for companies like Google, as well as co-defendants are likely to argue that most of these cases are at  the low end of the value spectrum. Most courts will probably agree. It is also foreseeable that these cases could clog our already underfunded courts, so I doubt these cases are the new thing, at least not yet.

If this technology is rushed, I can see not only dog and cat cases, but those involving children. The race to replace humans with machines has many unintended consequences. The government is unwittingly encouraging the mass exodus to machines and technology, and the fallout could mean many lawsuits and claims against companies like Google, or Amazon, for delivery drones crashing, etc. Many injury lawyers may cash in on these cases, since they may be easy settlements. Also, Google probably is not interested in dealing with massive amounts of small claims actions, which as sure to occur should the driverless vehicle be a safety flop.


What is a Wrongful Death Claim 101?

Attorney Michael Ehline

Attorney Michael Ehline

    Q. What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
    Q. What Individuals Permitted by Law to Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?
    Q. What Limits are there in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
    Q. What are the Types of Damages that can be Recovered in a Claim or Lawsuit?
    Q. Do All Wrongful Death Lawsuits Go to Trial?
    Q. What are the Right Qualifications in Choosing a Wrongful Death Attorney?
    Q. Is Compensation in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Taxable?
    Q. What is the Expense of Hiring a Wrongful Death Attorney?
    Q. Do Lawyers Charge a Consultation Fee?

In personal injury law individuals who have suffered harm or a family that has lost a loved one due to fatal injuries often have questions and some of these questions are commonly asked by potential clients. These are some of the most frequently questions and the answers that explain their definition.

Q. What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A. When a wrongful death claim is filed it is because negligent actions have resulted in the death of an individual, which could have been avoided if the wrongdoer acted with reasonable care. Reasonable care involves reasonable actions that would be the same or similar to another person under the same or similar circumstances. Close relatives of the deceased victim have the legal right to hold the negligent party responsible and recover monetary damages for the wrongful death.

Q. What Individuals Permitted by Law to Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?

A. In most states the family members who are permitted by law to bring a wrongful death claim begin with the immediate family, such as the spouse, children and step children. In the event the deceased victim was unmarried the parents and siblings may be allowed to bring the claim and in some cases grandparents might also be able to file this type of claim. The court may appoint a representative of the estate of the deceased individual in a wrongful death claim to work on behalf of the heirs.

Q. What Limits are there in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A. In wrongful death lawsuits there is a statutory of limitations, which means there is a time limit in which the claim must be filed with the court. The family members who do not file the claim within the specified time limit may give up the right to sue for compensatory damages permanently. The amount of time may be different depending on the negligent party, since state and government agencies generally have a shorter amount of time in which to file the lawsuit.

Q. What are the Types of Damages that can be Recovered in a Claim or Lawsuit?

A. The damages that may be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit depend on the state’s laws and each state may vary. Generally most states laws include:
Economic Damages

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of financial support by the victim. Some states will permit recovering the deceased individuals lifetime earnings.
  • There are some states that allow the plaintiffs to recover damages for loss of prospective inheritance.

Non-economic Damages

  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of society
  • Loss of companionship
  • Pain and suffering.

This type of damages may be included in the wrongful death lawsuit that many states permit, though a few state do not allow family members to include the pain and suffering. There are some states that do not permit including non-economic damages in the lawsuit brought by the surviving family members in a wrongful death lawsuit, while others do allow the family to include these damages in the filled claim. In some states there may be a limit on the recovery for non-economic damages. Other states view placing limits on the monetary non-economic damages as unconstitutional and do not have limits. It is advisable to consult a reputable wrongful death attorney in the state where the claim will be filed with the courts to ensure what damages can be included in the lawsuit and what the statute of limitations are in the state the case will be heard by the court.

Q. Do All Wrongful Death Lawsuits Go to Trial?

A. Every personal injury claim has the potential to go to court including wrongful death lawsuits, though some may be negotiated outside of court and settled for the amount of damages the family of the deceased deserves.
When a lawsuit does go to trial it can be expensive and take a lengthy amount of time. Going to court and being awarded the compensation that is deserved takes the skills of an expert in wrongful death litigation. This is why the accomplished lawyer prepares every case to stand up in court in front of a judge and jury to hear as well as the defense. The choice of the attorney in this type of complex claim is essential whether negotiating a settlement or litigating in court to obtain the damages that are warranted on behalf of the family members.

Q. What are the Right Qualifications in Choosing a Wrongful Death Attorney?

A. Choosing the right wrongful death attorney can be challenging since there are many personal injury lawyers. The most important factors to look for in a qualified wrongful death lawyer include:

Experience is one of the most important things to look for in picking the right attorney for any type of case and this is also true when choosing a personal injury attorney for representation in a wrongful death lawsuit. Past experience is vital in this area of the law, since these cases are often complex as well as a successful litigation record.

Dedication and Trust

The best attorney will be one who is dedicated to both their clients and the law. They are protecting the rights of the family members and they should have a reputation that speaks for itself in their handling of past cases. It is also important for the family members to trust the attorney since this type of lawsuit is emotionally draining and one the family should have individual attention and be in contact with the attorney throughout the case.

Attorney Resources

Bringing a wrongful death claim is expensive, time consuming and complicated, which means the right attorney will have the resources to prepare a iron clad case that will stand up against any defense the negligent party’s attorney may argue. The qualified wrongful death lawyer will have resources that include accident reconstruction experts, medical experts and other individual in fields of expertise necessary to provide testimony.

Track Record

The attorney should have a proven history of winning the maximum recovery on behalf of their clients whether the case is negotiated with an insurance company or is litigated in court. In some cases the claim may include a corporation, state or government entity and it is crucial to have a lawyer that is prepared to go up against a team of highly skilled attorneys. This is why it is important to question the success record of the personal injury attorney in representing clients in wrongful death lawsuits.

Q. Is Compensation in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Taxable?

A. In most instances the monetary recovery of damages in a wrongful death lawsuit or settlement is not taxable.

Q. What is the Expense of Hiring a Wrongful Death Attorney?

A. Most wrongful death lawyers do not charge an hourly or upfront legal fee. Generally the personal injury attorney specializing in this area of the law works on a contingency basis, which means there will be a predefined percentage of any damages recovered on behalf of the client in a settlement or court award. The contingency percentage may vary depending on the circumstances of the wrongful death claim. The law firm will usually pay for the necessary expenditures to prepare the case for experts and other issues rather than the client until the case comes to a conclusion. If there is no recovery of compensation in at the conclusion of the case no attorney fees will be paid.

Who are the Right Wrongful Death Lawyers?

Finding the law firm offering quality representation in wrongful death claims and other areas of personal injury law including motor vehicle accidents, malpractice, construction accidents, product liability, tractor trailer collisions, motorcycle crashes, bicycle and pedestrian mishaps involving negligence is not that easy.
There are directories like Yelp, many of which have fake reviews that could be false positives, or false negatives. However, there are invitation only organizations like Circle of Legal Trust, and Personal Injury Warriors International, that mitigate the chances of false information dissemination, and also showcase some of the knowledge and personalities of the attorneys, such as their user profiles on Facebook, Google Plus, Youtube videos, and Hang Outs on Air. These wrongful death attorneys are accomplished negotiators and litigators who are expertly skilled in preparing and arguing cases on behalf of the clients to protect their right to recover the damages they deserve. Their vetted member and associated attorneys will not take a lower settlement to avoid going to trial, when an insurance company is unfair. These guys are famous for taking their cases to trial, and aggressively litigating their cases to obtain the best possible jury award. The attorneys in these organizations are committed to getting justice for the injured or deceased victim’s family and value our clients trust in our ability to pursue their case assertively by holding the negligent party responsible for their actions.

Q. Do Most Death Lawyers Charge a Consultation Fee?

A. At least in California, most do not charge a consultation fee to discuss your claim whether you have been injured or are the family member of a victim who has been fatally injured. The experience and skill of the attorney will be able to answer your questions and evaluate your claim to determine the best course of legal action to take.

Q. How Can A Death Be Reached?
A. An affiliate member can be reached by looking them up on our directory here. If you were injured, or suffered a bad accident, call the ambulance first. There is time to hire a lawyer, once you are stabilized or there is no hope left in survival for the victims.


California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3921. Wrongful Death (Death of an Adult): https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/3900/3921.html

Attorney Definition of Wrongful Death in California: http://wrongfuldeathattorney.ehlinelaw.com/elements-discussed/

CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE SECTION 377.60-377.62: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=ccp&group=00001-01000&file=377.60-377.62

What are the Most Common Examples of Motorcycle Claims in California?


Attorney Michael Ehline

Attorney Michael Ehline

Answered By Michael Ehline of Ehline Law Firm PC (Click Here.) Motorcycle riders are in danger from other drivers every time they are on the road. Defensive driving is helpful, and so are safety campaigns. But fuel costs are pushing people into bikes. Statistics show the accidents were trending down. The news indicates the accidents are more and more tragic, however. In the news, there are often motorcycle accidents in which the rider is killed or seriously injured, and most are due to collisions with other vehicles. Collisions with other vehicles occur at a much higher rate compared to solo motorcycle accidents, and often end in a tragedy for the bereaving, surviving family members.

On a Saturday in late May in Los Angeles, there was a collision between a motorcyclist and a 2001 Jeep Liberty on Topanga Boulevard. This collision resulted in the 28-year-old rider of the 2007 Suzuki bike being killed. In this accident, the motorcycle rear ended the Jeep, and the rider was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The driver of the Jeep was not injured in the accident.

In another motorcycle accident that occurred around the 21st of May, the motorcyclist was found lying on the ground after a collision with a white Subaru in the No. 1 lane of the northbound 5 Freeway. The accident occurred on the 5 Freeway, south of Crown Valley Parkway in San Diego.

In Norco, a 64-year-old motorcyclist was killed when struck by a van that was making a left hand turn. Paramedics transported the rider to Corona Regional Medical Center. The motorcyclist was traveling southbound on River Road in the vicinity of Trail Street, when the van, making a left turn, turned in front of the biker. The rider was wearing a helmet when the collision occurred, but died at the medical center an hour after the collision occurred. Often, negligence of another can be an example of a wrongful death claim brought before the California courts. Although lawyers for wrongful death can recover monetary awards, no one person can ever be replaced.

Motorcycle Accident Facts

According to the statistics, California motorcycle fatalities were down in 2010 by 12 percent, with 2,715 deaths. In 2009 there were 3,090 motorcycle accident deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration. In San Diego, there were 39 deaths in 2009 and 989 reported injuries in motorcycle accidents, according to California Highway Patrol data. Statistics show that one-third of motorcycle accidents occur at intersections due to drivers not yielding to their right of way.

Motorcycle accidents that occur on the highways of California in cities like Los Angeles and San Diego either result in serious injuries or death for the rider. The motorcyclist has little protection against the vehicle that travels on four wheels and is equipped with airbags and seatbelts. The rider has their helmet and maybe some protective clothing to count on in a collision.

Many of these motorcycle crashes do not happen on the highway or freeway, but in the local communities at intersections. This is statistically proven to be the most dangerous place for motorcyclists. In most cases, even though the motorcyclist is alert and following traffic laws, if the driver of another vehicle closely follows them, it can be impossible for the motorcyclist to avoid a collision.

Safety Campaigns Are Helping

Motorcycle accident statistics have decreased in the past couple years in Southern California, in cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego. Officials have had an all-out campaign to make drivers more aware of sharing the road with motorcyclists, and there are more training classes and refresher courses for motorcyclists to make them safer on the road.

This is a combined effort that seems to be working. Officials believe that their efforts have made a difference for safety on the road for motorcyclists. Let’s hope that drivers stay aware of sharing the road with bikers. At least one motorcycle lawyer also believes that every biker should take one of the offered safety courses. Even for an experienced rider, it is good to take a refresher course to get rid of bad habits (Learn more about motorcycle accidents.)

Defensive Driving

Riding defensively is key to avoid being involved in a collision. One defensive riding tip is to not assume that drivers will yield to your right of way at intersections. Slow down when nearing intersections, even if you do not have a traffic signal or stop sign. There could be an increase in the amount of motorcycle crashes this year, since the price of gasoline is higher than in previous years. This will mean more people will be depending on the economical gas mileage motorcycles get, compared to the vehicles that they normally use for transportation to work and for errands.

It will mean that motorcyclists are putting more hours on the roads than they normally would when gas prices were lower and it was economical to use a car. Keep in mind that many of these new riders are first-time owners. These people are mere novices, and they just are not as experienced, and thus, they can become part of a potential recipe for a motor vehicle wreck, or worse. This has been a discussion of the dangers riders can face. Be on the lookout for other educational publications on things like dealing with catastrophic loss, in the near future.

See the bio of Michael Ehline here. See the disclaimer below.

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