Get answers to common questions about wrongful death actions
For many people, wrongful death can be a confusing area of law. In this article, we hope to answer some of your most frequently asked questions.
What is Wrongful Death?
In California, wrongful death is when a person is killed by someone else who may be liable but didn’t directly and/or deliberately cause the death of that person. In simple terms, a wrongful death claim can be made when the negligence of another leads to a death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In California, wrongful death lawsuits can be filed by the deceased person’s spouse or partner and children, as well as by certain other relatives who would be in the line of intestate succession. Lawsuits may also be filed by a representative on behalf of the deceased person themselves. In this case the available damages will go to the deceased person’s estate.
What Are Some Common Causes of Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
In California, some of the most common causes of wrongful death lawsuits include but aren’t limited to:
- Medical Malpractice
- Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Work-Related Accidents
- Boating Accidents
- Airplane Accidents
- Criminal Actions such as assault and battery, Felony DUI, and Assault with a deadly weapon.
- Construction Accidents
- Defective Products
- Dangerous Chemical Exposure
How Long Do I Have To File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
California, like most states, has a specific time limit on the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit called the Statute of Limitations. In most wrongful death cases, a claim must be filed within 2 years of the date of death. However, in some cases, a medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit may be required to be filed within 1 year of the date of death.
Can a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Be Filed if the Deceased Was a Child or Elderly Person?
The short answer is yes. Unfortunately, the available compensation is likely to be smaller due to the way damages are calculated. Lost wages are a big part of the damages in a wrongful death case. Other non-monetary contributions that the deceased would have made to their family, such as love, companionship, and household services, may also be compensated, but these damages are harder to put a dollar figure on. In the case of a child or elderly person who has no income, the damages will be entirely focused on non-monetary contributions.
Should I Hire An Attorney For a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death cases involve an extremely complex set of laws, evidence, rules, and legal procedures that need to be adhered to. It is highly recommended that you hire a qualified attorney who specializes in wrongful death cases to handle your lawsuit to make sure you and your family receive all the monetary compensation you’re entitled to.