Losing a loved one can be utterly devastating. It can turn your whole world upside down. While death itself can be heart-wrenching, what can make it much worse is when it happens because of someone else’s negligence or misconduct. Knowing someone you cared for died because of the fault of another person or entity can add levels more to your pain.
Filing a wrongful death claim in California can give you the constructive feeling that you are pursuing justice. It can also help offer a sense of closure for surviving family members. Pursuing justice for a loved one can give you a feeling of fulfillment, knowing that the guilty party is not walking away Scott-free. While nothing can bring your loved one back, you can begin to rest easy once again knowing that those responsible will be held to account for their negligence.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Under California law, wrongful death is the loss of life due to the fault of another person or establishment. According to Nolo,
“In California, a wrongful death occurs when one person (in legal terms, the “decedent”) dies because of the misconduct of another person or entity. A wrongful death claim often results from things like: negligence-based incidents (for example, car accidents, dangerous premises, and defective products). medical malpractice, and intentional acts (even crimes).”
Examples of wrongful death scenarios
There are several common scenarios that have led to wrongful death lawsuits. While the following list contains some of the most common types, it is not limited to this list alone.
- Car accidents. Distracted and drunk drivers make up the biggest majority of wrongful death claims. Road deaths, including vehicular collisions and collisions with pedestrians or cyclists, unfortunately, make up a very large portion of wrongful death suits.
- Medical malpractice. When medical professionals fail to meet medical norms, either by act or omission, it may result in an injury to the patient. When a wrongful death occurs, it is a betrayal of the Hippocratic oath.
- Crime. During the commission of a crime, if someone is killed, the perpetrator may be liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Work-related accidents. Wrongful death in the workplace may stem from workplace negligence, faulty machinery, or a failure to provide adequate safety precautions.
- Defective products. When it comes to wrongful death concerning a product, it may have happened due to faulty manufacturing, negligence regarding warnings, or misrepresentation when it comes to how the product was advertised to perform.
- Bike accidents. Bike riding accidents are especially tragic because everyone rides bicycles in public, from the elderly to young kids.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?
When it comes to filing a wrongful death lawsuit, certain family members are able to file it in the state of California. Some examples are parents, children, or siblings. An expanded look at the people who are able to file a wrongful death claim are:
- A spouse – a surviving wife or husband may file a wrongful death claim in the event their significant other was killed due to someone else’s negligence.
- Parents – One or both parents of the deceased may file a wrongful death lawsuit if their child was killed because of the negligence of someone else.
- Heirs – A single individual or several individuals considered to be heirs may file a wrongful death claim.
- Next of kin – any family member, if they are the next of kin, may file a wrongful death suit in the event the death was due to negligence or misconduct.
- The children – a biological child or children may file a suit in the event a parent was killed due to the misconduct of another.
- Dependent minors – any minors that were living under the roof and dependent on the decedent may file a claim.
- A representative of the estate – a formal representative, when next of kin, heirs, dependents, or parents are not present or not living to file a claim, may file a wrongful death suit.
However, there are exceptions that further limit or expand who is able to file a lawsuit. The reasons can be very complex and nuanced. This is why it is critical to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer that specializes in wrongful death lawsuits. This person will provide you with legal advice, guide you through the claims process, and provide you with invaluable expertise in order to build the most viable case and offer you the biggest settlement possible.
And while you can never put a price on the loss and love for the one that lost their life, in many cases, financial hardship is soon to follow. Starting with funeral costs, investigations to prove negligence and lost income, your loved one would never wish for you to suffer through the grief while feeling scared about finances. No one should ever feel this way.
A good attorney understands your pain and will alleviate as much of the stress and burden you are feeling as possible. You need time to grieve your loss. You need someone who is a legal expert to navigate the legalities involved so you can focus on yourself and your loved ones. You want justice, and that is exactly what your attorney wants for you.
Recoverable Damages in a California Wrongful Death Claim
In California, some of the economic and non-economic recoverable damages can range from funeral and burial expenses, financial support, and lost income the deceased would have provided during their life to the loss of benefits, and even the loss of any presents the decedent may have gifted family and loved ones during their lifetime. Also included may be services, household maintenance, or pain and anguish.
The importance of evidence and documentation
It is very important to provide irrefutable evidence to support any claims regarding the above-mentioned areas of loss. A lack of sufficient evidence may result in a forfeiture of some or all of your claims, depending on the demands of the judge presiding over the case. Your attorney will help you to understand what evidence is needed, as well as how to gather the needed evidence.
They will also help you understand how to begin documenting your daily routine to better show how the lack of the decedent’s presence is impacting your life. And not only your life, but the lives of any surviving family members, dependents, or heirs. This is a critical aspect of any wrongful death lawsuit because you need to demonstrate how their loss is negatively affecting the lives of surviving loved ones.
The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit
In all lower 48 states in the United States of America, there are statutes of limitations imposed on those looking to take legal action. In the state of California, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is 2 years. There are exceptions, however, for minors and those who have not been in the state, jailed, or imprisoned.
Minors generally have until they turn 18 years old to file a claim. For those imprisoned or not in the state, the statute of limitations may be “tolled” or paused. This means that starting from the time you left or are jailed, the statute of limitations was paused, resuming only once you are back in the state or released from incarceration.
The death of someone you care for can bring about unimaginable pain. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can provide financial relief, as well as give you the justice you deserve. A death caused by someone else’s negligence should not go without full accountability. Gathering evidence and documenting the negative impact left by the loss will help you show the extent of your pain and suffering.
Consulting with a qualified wrongful death attorney will help in many ways. From alleviating the stress of legalities to helping you to better understand your options and how to move forward with a lawsuit, a good lawyer will be there for you so you can take the time you need to grieve. Not worrying about legal action or recourse.
If you have a loved one that was killed due to someone else’s misconduct or negligence, contact Pyramid Legal today. We have the experience and compassion you need to lift the weight from your shoulders, giving you the time you need to take in everything that is happening, and letting you just breathe.