The unexpected death of a loved one is devastating, and when that loss is caused by someone else’s carelessness or negligence the death may be even more painful.
When the death of a loved one is the fault of another person, company, or organization, the survivors of the victim may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit against those responsible to recover damages.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death occurs when a person’s death was caused by the negligence, carelessness, or misconduct of another person or organization. There are a variety of situations that can result in a wrongful death lawsuit being filed:
- Medical malpractice
- Automobile accidents
- Employment accidents
- Defective products
- Nursing home negligence
Because California follows the strict liability doctrine, plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit do not have to prove the responsible party meant to cause harm. They only have to show that the responsible party’s actions caused the harm-with or without knowledge or intent-to file a wrongful death claim.
What Do I have to Prove in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
To successfully bring a wrongful death lawsuit, you must be able to show the following:
- That a loved one died
- That the death was caused by another person’s negligence or that the other person had intent to cause harm
- That you or other family members have suffered financially as a result of the death
What is the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations?
In California, the wrongful death statute of limitations varies between two and three years, depending on the circumstances. In most wrongful death claims, the statute of limitations is two years.
In medical malpractice cases, the wrongful death statute of limitations is three years from the time of the harm or one year after the plaintiff knew or should have known about the harm. Wrongful death cases filed against the State of California must be filed within six months of the injury.
If there are special circumstances that would prevent the plaintiffs from knowing the death was caused by negligence or a wrongful action, the statute of limitations can be tolled-or stopped for a period of time-until circumstances change.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed on behalf of the survivors of the victim. Those survivors must show they suffered damage as a result of the death.
Among those who could be eligible to file a wrongful death claim are immediate family members (including children, spouses, and parents of the deceased), putative spouses, financial dependents, and in some cases, distant family members.
What Damages Can I Seek in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
There are two types of damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit. These include economic and non-economic damages.
Examples of economic damages:
- Financial support the deceased would have provided in the future
- The loss of benefits that the plaintiff would have received from the victim
- Any funeral or burial expenses
- The value of household services the victim would have provided
Examples of non-economic damages:
- Loss of love, affection, companionship, and moral support
- Loss of training and guidance (for the children of the victim)
Why Should I Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney?
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can be a lengthy and complex process requiring detailed records and preparation. A wrongful death attorney can help you not only with proving your unlawful death claim but also with determining reasonable compensation for economic and non-economic damages.
Losing a loved one is an emotional experience, and trying to navigate the legal system by yourself can become overwhelming especially if there are insurance companies or large corporations involved.
Hiring a wrongful death attorney to help with the legal proceedings means you don’t have to go through the process alone. An experienced attorney knows the system well, will ensure all paperwork is properly filed and deadlines are met, can prepare expert testimony if necessary, and will fight to represent your interests in court.
Wrongful Death Attorneys – Nationwide Service –
Our attorneys have more than 40 years of combined legal experience, and have won and recovered millions for families who have lost a loved one to a wrongful death. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence or misconduct of an individual, company, or product, our attorneys can help you.
We will discuss your situation, explain your options, and ensure you understand your rights regarding filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Because our firm is a contingency-based firm, you will not be charged upfront costs. We are only paid if we help you obtain financial damages. Call us toll free at 916-461-8697 or request a free case evaluation.