Wrongful Death Case Results

Auto vs. Pedestrian Accident/Wrongful Death [Trial Verdict] - Berman & Riedel, LLP, was retained to represent the parents of a 22- year-old Japanese foreign exchange student who, while living in San Diego California so she could attend Palomar College, was struck by a vehicle and killed. Immediately following the accident, the defendant driver, also a student attending classes at Palomar College, gave a statement to the investigating authorities claiming that she struck the pedes- trian in the street. Based upon this statement and lack of much physical evidence at the accident scene, the investigating authorities determined that the accident occurred in the street, and was caused as a result of the pedestrian walking in the street. In undertaking representation of the parents of the decedent, the attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP, retained experts who found witnesses and physical evidence that demonstrated that the decedent was walking on the sidewalk, and not in the street, when she was struck and killed. The case proceeded to trial with disputed liability, the defendant maintaining through trial that the decedent was walking in the public street when the accident occurred. Through the use of scientific forensic evidence, including expert accident reconstruction testimony based upon physical evidence found at the scene, firm Managing Partner William M. Berman was able to convince the trier of fact that the decedent was struck on the sidewalk, and not in the street. In finding that the impact occurred on the sidewalk, defendant was determined to be fully responsible for causing the accident and death of plaintiffs’ daughter, and verdict was rendered in plaintiffs’ favor in the sum total amount of $1,547,445.25.

Elder Neglect/Wrongful Death - An 85-year-old woman passed away due to complications following an attempted below the knee amputation surgery that was necessitated because she had developed severe bilateral heel wounds (pressure ulcers/bed sores) while admitted as a patient in a Southern California based skilled nursing facility where she had been sent to receive short term rehabilitation therapies following hip surgery. Due to an alleged lack of care on the part of her medical care providers as well as inaction by her health management organization, she had developed bilateral heel wounds which progressed to become extreme necrotic Stage IV wounds, the left heel becoming severely infected. After becoming septic, a below the knee amputation of her left leg was performed in attempt to save her life. Unfortunately, she suffered complications and died. Following almost two years of extensive litigation against defendants responsible for the patient's medical care, Berman & Riedel, LLP, was able to obtain collective settlement on behalf of decedent's surviving family for just over $1,700,000.00.

Elder Neglect/Wrongful Death – An 88-year-old long term custodial resident of a San Diego based Skilled Nursing Facility (“SNF”) suffered serious internal bleeding over a period of 26 days when nursing staff failed to monitor her medication levels as had been specifically ordered by her physician. Despite the fact that the patient showed obvious signs of decline over the entire 26 day period, the facility failed to contact her physician and report her change in condition. The patient continued to decline, and, eventually, the patient suffered a massive brain hemorrhage and died. The facility received a Class “A” Citation. After well over a year of extensive litigation against the Skilled Nursing Facility and its Management Company, Berman & Riedel, LLP, was able to settle the case at mediation for $1,5000,000.00. The attending physician involved paid additional monies in confidential settlement for her direct failure to recognize that the medication orders were improperly noted and that SNF nursing staff were not monitoring the patient’s medication levels. Settlement of the claim was enhanced due to the serious potential for award of punitive damages.

Dependent Adult/Wrongful Death – After enduring several months of physical abuse while a resident of Lanterman Developmental Center, a state-run facility located in Southern California, Mark O., a 31-year-old developmentally disabled adult male, was killed by a significant blow to the abdomen. An examination of the body determined that the fatal blow was likely intentional. During discovery, several witnesses testified that although there were repeated claims of abuse made to the facility administration and director, they failed to take measures to protect the resident from the abuse and consistently left him vulnerable to attack from fellow residents. While it could not be determined whether the perpetrator of the final, fatal blow was another developmentally disabled resident or one of the caretaker employees, the facility paid $950,000 to his family to settle a lawsuit filed by the firm.

Worksite Injury/Wrongful Death - A 40-year-old husband and father of three was electrocuted while working in a welding shop. His family retained the firm, which brought suit against against the electrical contractors who had performed extensive electrical work in the welding shop building shortly before the electrocution death. After two years of hard fought litigation where defendants argued that decedent died through his own misactions, the firm was able to recover $825,000.00 for the family.

Nursing Home/Wrongful Death – Attorneys of the firm represented the claims of a 90-year-old patient who suffered excruciating pain as the result of the formation of several pressure ulcers, one of which was so large it exposed her tailbone. She died a short time later. Despite defendant’s claims that the care it rendered to plaintiff was well within acceptable nursing standards, that there was nothing it could have done differently to prevent the formation of the decubitus ulcers, and that plaintiff’s death was unrelated to its conduct, the defendant facility paid plaintiff’s surviving family $300,000.00 in settlement of the case.

Residential Care Facility Wrongful Death Case – A 74-year-old woman residing in an Oxnard, California Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE) died after choking on her own vomit. During the early morning hours of a weekend shift, the woman was suffering from persistent vomiting due to food she ate during her dinner meal. The staff members at the facility became annoyed at the woman’s repeated calls for assistance so the staff, at the direction of the night supervisor, intentionally tied her emergency call cord up so that it was out of her reach and the staff would no longer be inconvenienced by her requests for assistance. Unfortunately, the woman suffered another vomiting episode and, being that she could not reach her call cord, she was forced to get out of bed in search of assistance. As she got out of bed, the elderly woman fell to the floor, and began choking on her own vomit. She was left on the ground for 4 hours, until oncoming morning staff did a routine check of all of the patients and found her in her then dried vomit. Having aspirated her vomit, the woman died. The was case settled by our San Diego residential care facility lawyers on the eve of trial for $2,200,000.00 which was, at the time, lauded by the press as the largest settlement ever reported in the State of California against a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly.

Wrongful Death CaseSkilled Nursing Facility - An 85-year-old woman, admitted to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) to aid in her rehabilitation after undergoing hip surgery, died following amputation surgery necessitated by severe and incurable pressure ulcers on her heel. While at the SNF, the woman’s medical care providers and health management organization permitted severe Stage IV pressure ulcers/bed sores to develop on her heel as a result of their lack of care. Her condition progressively worsened, and she became septic. A below-the-knee amputation surgery was performed in an effort to save her life. Tragically, however, the woman suffered complications from the surgery, and she died. After aggressively pursuing this case for almost two years, our California nursing home injury lawyers recovered just over $1,700,000.00 on behalf of the decedent’s grieving family.

Wrongful Death CaseSkilled Nursing Facility - A San Diego-based skilled nursing facility (SNF) allowed an 88-year-old long-term custodial resident to bleed internally for 26 days as a result of the nursing staff’s failure to monitor her medication levels as ordered by her physician. Despite obvious signs indicating that her health was declining over the 26 day period, the facility never contacted her physician to report a change in her condition. The internal bleeding proved too severe, and the woman eventually suffered a massive brain hemorrhage and died. As a result of its failure to render proper medical care and attention to this resident, the facility received a Class “A” Citation from California’s Department of Health Services. Following over a year of serious litigation, the California nursing home negligence lawyers of our firm were able to settle the case at mediation in the amount of $1,500,000.00, an enhanced settlement based upon the serious likelihood of punitive damages being awarded at trial. In addition, the elderly woman’s attending physician also paid additional monies in confidential settlement based upon her personal failures in not realizing that her orders were not being followed properly and that the nursing staff was not monitoring the patient’s medication levels.

Wrongful Death Case - Residential Care Facility - A 92-year-old male resident had been living in a board and care facility for just three months when he was rushed to the hospital where he was noted to be suffering from malnutrition, dehydration, and severe muscle wasting. The elderly man was also found to have live insects living in his eyes and mouth. He died less than a week later. Shortly thereafter, his family filed a lawsuit against the facility and the placement agency for their failures to provide him with proper care, allowing him to suffer and ultimately die. Very early on in the litigation process, the parties settled with our California residential care facility lawyers in the amount of $1,050,000.00.

Wrongful Death CaseSkilled Nursing Facility - After successfully undergoing surgery to repair a fractured hip, an 88-year-old woman was placed in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) to give her time to recuperate, but died shortly thereafter as a result of the facility’s failure to properly monitor a hematoma as directed by a physician. Notably possessing “good restorative potential,” she was solely being admitted to the SNF so as to receive short-term rehabilitative therapy aimed at helping her regain her strength so that she could return home to live with her husband. The facility’s nurses were under strict instructions from the admitting physician to continuously monitor a hematoma affecting the woman’s right groin area, and to report any signs of infection. However, no care plan was ever developed to address how the hematoma should be monitored, and the nursing staff failed to assess the presence or absence of a femoral or pedal pulse, the color and temperature of her leg, or the presence of edema. Consequently, the plaintiff suffered a complete loss of circulatory function in the affected leg less than three weeks after being admitted to the SNF. This condition went unnoticed for several days, eventually necessitating emergency surgery, and resulting in her death shortly thereafter. Our firm’s San Diego nursing home negligence attorneys settled the case against the SNF for $700,000.00 after just six months of litigation.

Wrongful Death CaseSkilled Nursing Facility - A 78-year-old resident, living in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) for the purposes of receiving short-term rehabilitative therapy, had a positive prognosis to return to living independently in the near future. Upon admission, the facility, its administrators, and its nursing staff were made aware that, based largely upon her being diabetic, the woman’s nutrition, blood sugar levels, diabetes medications, and skin integrity had to be closely monitored. However, less than six weeks after being admitted, the patient began suffering from extreme dehydration, malnourishment, and had necessary medications and insulin withheld from her. These conditions caused her to develop painful bed sores and a urinary tract infection, and eventually suffer a fatal heart attack. Early on in litigation, our California nursing home injury lawyers were able to mediate with the facility, recovering $600,000.00 on behalf of the resident’s surviving children.

Wrongful Death CaseSkilled Nursing Facility - An 80-year-old woman, admitted to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) in order to receive short-term rehabilitative therapy, was on Coumadin, a medication used to thin the blood so as to prevent it from clotting. Facility administrators and nursing staff were aware that the resident was on this medication, and that, when a person is taking Coumadin, it prevents internal traumatic injuries from healing. Armed with such knowledge, the facility’s medical personal nonetheless allowed the resident to fall while undergoing physical therapy, causing her to bang her head very hard. The therapist reported this incident to nursing staff, but nursing staff failed to relay the incident to the resident’s primary care physician for further investigation or to heir on the side of caution and suspend her regular doses of Coumadin until her injuries could be assessed. Approximately 18 hours after the incident, the woman was found to be unresponsive in her bed. After being transferred to the emergency room, doctors discovered that the woman had suffered a massive brain hemorrhage, which went uncontrolled, partly due to the continued administration of the Coumadin. Unfortunately, the resident died as a result of this massive internal brain bleed. As a result of this incident, the facility received a “AA” Citation from the California Department of Health Services. Being that the facility was run by Riverside County, certain immunities prevented the decedent’s surviving family from recovering punitive damages. However, quite early on in litigation, the San Diego nursing home injury attorneys of our firm were still able to recover $750,000.00 on behalf of the injured parties.

Wrongful Death CaseSkilled Nursing Facility - An 84-year-old skilled nursing facility (SNF) resident died as a result of having been severely neglected. The facility’s administration and staff were well-aware of the resident’s need for skilled nursing care, including receiving medication that had to be administered by injection. Shortly after being admitted to the facility, the resident was found to have large, dark bruises covering large portions of the left side of his body, which had been caused by his medication injections being improperly administered. However, despite noticing these bruises and that his medication was being improperly administered, the facility failed to inform either his physician or his family of his condition, and caused it to worsen by continuing to administer the medication improperly. Their actions caused the resident to suffer prolonged internal bleeding, which went untreated because his physician was not made aware of his condition, and he ultimately died. Although the facility hotly contested the allegations of abuse and neglect as well as the cause of death, the firm’s California nursing home negligence lawyers obtained a $350,000 cash settlement on behalf of the victim’s surviving family members.

Wrongful Death CaseSkilled Nursing Facility - The surviving family members of an 87-year-old skilled nursing facility (SNF) resident that died after her life-sustaining medication was withheld over a period of 26 days filed suit against the facility as well as her primary care physician for failing to properly administer her medication and for failing to adequately monitor the patient’s health. During the litigation, the firm demonstrated that laboratory results taken at the hospital where the woman died shortly following admission were inconsistent with the woman having received her physician prescribed medication, which the facility alleged was properly provided. To refute such contention, the firm obtained the pharmacy dispensing records which revealed that no such medications had been administered for the patient for over three weeks. Shortly thereafter, the firm was able to recover $910,000.00 on behalf of the decedent’s grieving family.

Wrongful Death Case - Residential Care Facility - In an effort to keep a 94-year-old man quiet and “trouble-free,” a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE) intentionally over-medicated him. As a result, the resident fell in the middle of the night, sustaining a broken hip and shoulder. Tragically, the man died before an operation could be performed. The facility agreed to settle the lawsuit brought against it by the decedent’s surviving family and our San Diego residential care facility attorneys for the sum of $700,000.00.

Wrongful Death CaseSkilled Nursing Facility - An 87-year-old skilled nursing facility (SNF) resident who posed a well-documented high-fall risk, died as a result of the facility failing to create a care plan that would protect such a high-risk resident. Absolutely no fall prevention protocol was initiated by the facility despite it being aware that the woman had suffered falls previously and it forming its own opinion that the resident was at a high risk for falls. Just six days after her admission, the patient suffered a serious fall while unassisted. As a result, the woman incurred a severe head injury, which could not be corrected quickly enough, and she died that same day. The case brought by her surviving family members settled early on in litigation for $475,000.00.

Wrongful Death CaseSkilled Nursing Facility - An 83-year-old skilled nursing facility (SNF) resident contracted urosepsis as a result of the facility’s failure to properly care for and cleanse her indwelling catheter. She subsequently died as a result of the urosepsis. Her six surviving child brought a lawsuit against the facility, and the firm was able to recover $600,000.00 on their behalf.

Wrongful Death CaseSkilled Nursing Facility - A 90-year-old woman developed several pressure ulcers as a result of a nursing facility providing her improper care. These pressure ulcers progressively worsened, one of which was so severe that her tailbone was exposed, and caused her excruciating pain. This condition eventually led to her death a short time later. The firm was able to obtain a $300,000.00 settlement on behalf of the woman’s surviving family despite the facility’s claims that it provided adequate care to the decedent, that they were helpless to prevent the pressure ulcers from forming, and that they did not cause the decedent’s death.

Wrongful Death CaseSkilled Nursing Facility - A 78-year-old skilled nursing facility (SNF) resident lost an alarming 25 pounds in just seven days while in the facility’s care, and subsequently died. While the facility adamantly claimed that the weight loss was caused by medical complications that were outside of its control, it settled the claims asserted by the decedent’s children for $375,000.00 without a lawsuit ever being filed.

Dependent Adult/Wrongful Death – After enduring several months of physical abuse while a resident of Lanterman Developmental Center, a state-run facility located in Southern California, Mark O., a 31-year-old developmentally disabled adult male, was killed by a significant blow to the abdomen. An examination of the body determined that the fatal blow was likely intentional. During discovery, several witnesses testified that although there were repeated claims of abuse made to the facility administration and director, they failed to take measures to protect the resident from the abuse and consistently left him vulnerable to attack from fellow residents. While it could not be determined whether the perpetrator of the final, fatal blow was another developmentally disabled resident or one of the caretaker employees, the facility paid $950,000 to his family to settle a lawsuit filed by the firm.

Disclaimer: Case results as reported above were derived based upon facts and circumstances specific to each separately reported case and publication of such case results is for informational purposes only and by no means is intended to constitute any representation or guarantee of a similar result for your prospective case.


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Jean’s mother was a victim of neglect while at a skilled nursing facility, resulting in surgery that she did not survive. Berman was there to listen and provide support that the client needed.
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Michele’s mother suffered a wrongful death at a California nursing home. William M. Berman and the attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP helped litigate the case with successful results.
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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to common questions people have about personal injury cases and working with a lawyer. During your initial consultation, we will be happy to answer questions that are particular to your case.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

The attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP, accept cases on a contingency-fee basis. This type of agreement means you do not pay any attorneys’ fees out-of-pocket for legal representation. Attorneys’ fees are also contingent on the outcome of your case.

You benefit from legal representation in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of a settlement or jury award. We will only recover a fee if you recover compensation.

Can You Tell Me How Much My Case Is Worth?

There is no way to determine the exact value of a personal injury case, especially early in your case. However, an experienced attorney can give you an estimated range based on their experience with similar cases.

There are many factors that may influence the value of your case, such as:

  • Your total financial or economic damages
  • The severity of your injuries
  • The impact of your injuries on your daily life
  • The strength of your case
  • Whether you share fault for your accident
  • Insurance policy limits 

Some damages are easy to calculate, such as lost wages and medical bills. Calculating the value of diminished earnings for the rest of your life or future medical needs; however, may require the help of experts. Non-economic damages like pain and suffering have no intrinsic financial value. These damages are challenging to calculate. 

If your case goes before a jury, you may potentially be able to recover more than you could through a settlement. However, this introduces a new element of risk: the jury. The circumstances of your accident and even how sympathetic you or the defendant are can influence the outcome.

During your consultation, and throughout your case, we will help you understand how these factors influence your case. We will also work tirelessly to document the value of all your damages and pursue maximum compensation on your behalf.

Will My Case Go to Trial?

The vast majority of cases are resolved by reaching a settlement agreement outside of court. Very few personal injury cases actually go to trial, but it is more likely if the facts in your case are in dispute, a legal issue is being contested, or you have a high-value case.

An experienced lawyer will build your case as if it will go to trial from the beginning. The stronger your case and evidence, the more likely a fair settlement will be reached.

How Do I Know If I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

If your case involves mostly property damage or minor injuries, you likely do not need a lawyer to handle a claim with the insurance company. The more serious your injuries, or the more complex your case, the more important it becomes to seek experienced legal counsel.

Remember that the insurance company is not on your side, even if the insurance adjuster seems sympathetic and you receive a settlement offer. If you are being blamed for your accident or sustained serious injury, a lawyer will help you protect your rights and build the strongest case possible. This includes calculating the full value of your current and future losses.

Legal representation is also vital if your case involves a complex area of law such as elder abuse or neglect, premises liability, commercial vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, or serious work-related accidents. Determining liability, navigating decades of legal precedence, and interpreting specific statutes in these cases is best done with years of relevant legal experience.

Do You Accept Cases Outside of San Diego?

While our law office is located in San Diego, Berman & Riedel, LLP, accepts cases throughout the state of California.

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