A wrongful death lawsuit may be brought to the civil court under California law when a victim dies due to the negligence, recklessness, or otherwise wrongful actions of another party (whether it be a business or another individual). This claim is separate from any criminal charges being pursued against the responsible party and concerns itself only with securing financial compensation for the bereaved.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?
Only survivors of the victim can file a wrongful death claim. Under California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60, those closest to the decedent, such as surviving partners and dependent children, receive the highest entitlement in the wrongful death case, followed by:
- The victim’s surviving parents or siblings, and their children
- And any other person who may have been dependent on the decedent, such as a putative spouse and/or their children.
Only these heirs of the victim may file a wrongful death claim, though they may do so either jointly or separately.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Wrongful Death?
There are a variety of different causes of wrongful death that can merit filing a wrongful death claim, but all of them involve a careless and largely preventable mistake. Wrongful deaths can occur on the road, at work, even at a doctor’s office. The most common causes of wrongful death are as follows:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Traffic accidents as a whole, including car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents are the single biggest cause of wrongful death. Motor vehicle accidents caused by speeding, dangerous or reckless driving, distracted driving, and DUI are some of the most common causes.
Whether it’s a slip and fall accident or using defective products or equipment, the workplace is another common place where a fatal accident may occur.
Another common cause of wrongful death, medical malpractice includes situations such as when a doctor fails to properly diagnose a condition like cancer, or a medical professional commits medical negligence by administering an improper medication or dose.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Wrongful Death Claim?
When a victim dies as a result of the negligence of another party, the survivors of the decedent suffer both economic and non-economic damages. The emotional distress associated with a loved one’s death can be debilitating. The loss of love, companionship, comfort, affection, and guidance that your loved one provided is just one of the damages a wrongful death lawyer from Wilshire Law Firm can help you recover.
Survivors of the victim may additionally recover wrongful death damages based on:
Loss of Future Earnings of the Victim
If you can prove financial dependence on the victim, you may be able to recover damages based on the future earnings of the deceased.
If the victim was set to receive medical benefits, a pension, or other possible future benefits you may also be able to receive compensation.
Fixed Expenses Such as Medical Bills and Funeral Costs
Dealing with a wrongful death can lead to the pile-up of fixed expenses, such as medical expenses before the death and funeral expenses. You should not have to be responsible for the expensive costs of a loved one’s accident. Let an experienced California wrongful death attorney from the highest-rated Los Angeles law firm fight for you.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In the state of California, strict regulations are surrounding who can and cannot file for wrongful death.
The following are those who are most entitled to the lawsuit claim:
- Spouse – If your spouse or domestic partner was the victim of wrongful death, you are legally entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit and seek compensation for the loss. As the surviving spouse, you are likely entitled to many economic and non-economic damages.
- Children – If you have lost your biological or adoptive parent, you are entitled to seek compensation. There are also several additions to this category. For example, if you are the victim’s stepchild and can prove financial dependence, you also are entitled to file for a wrongful death lawsuit. Additionally, any minors living with the victim for at least 180 days before death also can claim independence if they can prove some financial independence.
- Parents – If you are the parent of the deceased, you are entitled to file for a wrongful death claim. This only applies if your child was a minor at the time of death, or was an adult with no descendants.
- Other Heirs – If there can be found no spouse, child, or parent to be considered the survivors of the victim, another surviving family member may be found to be the “heir”. Heirs are people who can be found to legally and logically inherit the property of the deceased person, assuming that the victim passed without a viable will in place.
How Long Do I Have to File?
While this may differ depending on the state, California law dictates that survivors of the victim have exactly 2 years following the accident to file a wrongful death suit in court.
That is why it is so important for survivors of the decedent to contact a reputable law firm and file for a wrongful death lawsuit as soon as possible following the incident.
Where Do You Sue for a Wrongful Death in Los Angeles?
In Los Angeles, to file a wrongful death suit, either the survivor of the deceased person or their personal representative needs to bring the case to the court directly. The fault is remedied solely by monetary damages – which the court will order the defendant to pay to the victim’s survivors.
Suing for wrongful death may seem like a complicated process, especially for the majority of people who have little experience dealing with the law. Wilshire Law Firm can help simplify this seemingly complicated process for you.
Our #1 rated premier California attorneys can make sure that you get the justice and compensation you deserve. Nothing will ever make up for the loss of a loved one’s life, but Wilshire Law Firm can help you get the financial compensation you deserve. Call now!
What Types of Grief Counseling Options Are Available?
One of our initial steps is often connecting families with bereavement resources. While a successful wrongful death lawsuit is important, access to immediate counseling and resources can be just as important – if not more so. Several grief counseling groups exist to help survivors of all ages grieve, heal, and move forward from their loss.
The services offered by each group vary, but they will often allow survivors to meet with grief psychologists, psychotherapists, or other counselors that are trained to help those who have suffered a loss move forward.
Support groups for the bereaved include:
- OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center, which provides support groups for people of all ages along with online grief resources;
- Grief Haven, which connects survivors with support groups, grief counselors, and other online grief tools and information;
- Hope Connection, whose mission is to “provide group support, educational programs, and information that helps alleviate the pain of grief and promote healing.”
These are just a few of the bereavement resources (both free and fee-based) that are available throughout Los Angeles County. No matter what organization is best suited to help you, the wrongful death attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm can help guide you to the support you need in your personal injury case.
Get Help from a Los Angeles Wrongful Death Attorney
When you need to get in touch with a wrongful death lawyer, the attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm are here for you. If a loved one has recently died due to the negligence of others, our lawyers will guide you through every step along the way.
Our contingency fee structure requires no immediate payment from you. This arrangement aligns our interests with yours, as our payment is entirely dependent on our ability to achieve a positive outcome for your case.
For more information, contact Wilshire Law Firm today at (877) 597-5395 or via our online case consultation request form, and find out how our attorneys can assist you now.
Read More: Wrongful Death Damages