Wrongful death is the result of a person’s or entity’s negligent or intentional actions. A lawsuit following a wrongful death is a civil claim, although a criminal act may be associated with it. Eligible survivors file the case against the at-fault party or entity. Surviving family members need to have a working knowledge of the wrongful death process. Let’s look at the basic elements of such a claim.
Pursuing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
David understands family members are in a state of emotional and sometimes financial disarray after their loved one’s death. For that reason, he makes every effort to explain the options for the financial compensation they have open to them. Beyond that, he gives the family a way to seek justice for their loved one’s unnecessary demise.
To assist the family during this time, David explains the process of a wrongful death claim to them during an initial, free case evaluation and reviews their eligibility to file. No one should go through this time alone, and David will be at their side from start to finish. It is little wonder that well-respected ranking firms such as Super Lawyers call David one of the top personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles.
How Long the Family Has to File
There is a two-year deadline to file in California. This is called the statute of limitations. If the claim is not filed within this period, it will be dismissed. However, some nuances may affect the deadline:
- Discovery rule: In some cases, the reason the person died is not clear at the time of their death. However, it is made known or becomes apparent later on. In such cases, the statute of limitations may be extended to two years from the time when the cause of death is discovered.
- Public entity cases: This occurs when the case is against a public entity such as the city or state. For instance, the public entity may be responsible for negligent road design or maintenance. The time limit to file is different when a public agency is involved. The family now has six months to file a claim with the government entity, and that entity has 45 days to respond. If they deny the claim, the family has six months to file a lawsuit. If the government entity fails to respond, the family has two years to file a lawsuit.
- Minors: If a minor is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party, the time limit is changed to two years after the minor turns 18.
- Medical malpractice: When medical malpractice is the cause of the decedent’s death in California, the time to file changes yet again. Usually, the family’s deadline to file is three years from the time the injury occurred or one year from the time they should have learned of medical negligence; however, this can vary. It is best to speak with your wrongful death lawyer to learn how long you have to file.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
The following can file a wrongful death claim in California, based on proper succession under Article 6 Code of Civil Procedures 377.60:
- The surviving spouse
- Domestic partner
- Grandchildren if the children are deceased
- Dependents of the deceased include the putative spouse, children of the putative spouse, stepchildren, or the decedent’s parents.
- Minors who lived with the decedent before their demise for 180 days and were dependent on the decedent for 50 percent of their income can be part of a wrongful death lawsuit.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The following damages that are listed in the California Code of Civil Procedures 377.61 are part of a wrongful death lawsuit:
- The medical expenses accrued right before the decedent died
- End of life costs such as burial and funeral expenses
- Loss of financial support
- Wages and other monies the decedent would have made had he or she not died
- Loss of consortium
Investigating a Wrongful Death
Investigating a wrongful death is similar to personal injury cases in that it is necessary to find evidence of negligence or misconduct. Investigators use different means of doing this, depending on the type of case.
If assault, murder, or other misconduct occurred, a criminal charge might also be filed against the at-fault party. The facts used in a criminal case are judged beyond a reasonable doubt, which is higher than those of a civil suit. The evidence in a criminal case can be used in the civil one, regardless of whether the person was convicted. This provides a sense of legitimacy that can help lead to a successful outcome.
Free Case Review with the Law Office of David Azizi
David uses his legal acumen, investigative prowess and diligence to succeed in 98 percent of his cases. This is why so many Angelenos put their trust in the law firm of David Azizi. Call him at (800) 991-5292 to schedule a free case review if your loved one was killed by negligence or misconduct. You can reach David online also or do a virtual consult if that suits your needs.