Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer
The loss of your family member or domestic partner is a traumatic and unfortunate event. It is even more upsetting when the death is caused by the negligence of someone else. No amount of money can ever adequately compensate you for your loss, but you are entitled to compensation when the death is the fault of someone other person or company.
What is Wrongful Death?
In California, a wrongful death arises when one person dies as the result of the wrongful act or negligence of another person or entity. A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit. It is brought to court directly by the survivors of the deceased person, or by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate, and fault is expressed solely in terms of money damages, which the court orders the defendant to pay to the decedent’s survivors.
In these ways, a wrongful death claim differs from a criminal case for homicide, which is brought by the state and in which guilt is penalized with jail or prison time, probation, and other methods. A family in California may bring a civil wrongful death claim to court even if a criminal case is already going forward.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
Only certain people are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California. The relevant statute specifically allows the following parties to bring a wrongful death claim:
- the deceased person’s surviving spouse
- the deceased person’s domestic partner
- the deceased person’ s surviving children
- if there is no surviving person in the deceased person’s line of descent, then a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by anyone “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession”; that can include the deceased person’s parents, or the deceased person’s siblings, depending on who is living at the time of the deceased person’s death,
And, if they can show they were financially dependent on the deceased person, the following people can also bring a wrongful death lawsuit in California:
- the deceased person’s “putative spouse” and children of the putative spouse
- the deceased person’s stepchildren, and
- the deceased person’s parents.
What Damages are Available in a Wrongful Death Claim?
A number of different varieties of personal injury damages are available in a wrongful death claim in California. The specific amounts involved will depend on the facts of an individual case.
Damages are typically divided according to whether they compensate the estate for losses associated with the death, or the surviving family members for the personal losses they suffered as a result of the death. Losses that are typically attributed to the estate include:
- funeral and burial expenses
- medical and hospital bills for the deceased person’s final illness or injury, and
- lost income, including potential income the deceased person would reasonably have been expected to earn in the future had he or she lived.
Losses that are typically attributed to the surviving family members include:
- the value of household services
- loss of anticipated financial support, and
- loss of love, community, attention, affection, moral support, and guidance.
How Long Does a Family Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Like personal injury claims, wrongful death claims in California must be filed within a specific time period California law requires a wrongful death claim to be filed within two years of the date of the decedent’s death. If the case is not filed in the state’s civil court system within two years, the family will almost certainly lose the right to file it at all.
If a loved one was a victim of a wrongful death it is crucial to hire an experienced attorney with the knowledge and skill to obtain maximum compensation. Craig Charles Law has a long track record of fighting on behalf of clients injured in a wrongful death, thus ensuring the best possible outcome for you.
Craig Charles Law has offices located in West Hollywood, El Segundo and San Diego to serve the needs of clients throughout Southern California. We are a gay friendly, LGBTQIA affirming law practice. Call Craig Charles Law today for a free, no obligation consult at 424-343-0660