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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer: Your Guide to Justice

In the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles, the vibrancy of life often intersects with unforeseen tragedies. Coping with the loss of a loved one is an indescribable challenge, especially when their passing is a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions. During these trying times, seeking justice and accountability becomes a crucial step in the healing process.

In this blog, we delve into the profound role of a Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer. Beyond legal representation, these professionals become pillars of support for grieving families, navigating the complex terrain of legal proceedings while offering empathy and understanding. Join us as we explore the compassionate side of legal advocacy and shed light on how these legal experts are instrumental in securing justice for those left behind in the wake of tragedy.

What Is Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death claim is a legal recourse that enables surviving family members to pursue financial compensation in the aftermath of a loved one’s death. If any form of tort or wrongful conduct is identified as the cause of the injury leading to the victim’s death, the responsible party is obligated to provide compensation. In California, a wrongful death action is legally defined as a claim arising when an individual dies due to the wrongful act or negligence of another person or entity. Initiating a wrongful death lawsuit in Los Angeles can serve to reimburse your family for economic damages and associated losses, encompassing burial and funeral expenses, while also holding the responsible party accountable.

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It’s essential to note that a wrongful death claim diverges from a murder or homicide trial; it operates within the realm of civil law rather than criminal proceedings. This civil action is brought forth in the California civil courts and aims to establish civil liability on the defendant’s part for the deceased person’s demise. Whether or not the at-fault party has committed a crime, your family may still have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In cases involving intentional misconduct or criminal activities, such as homicide, your family has the option to pursue a civil wrongful death claim concurrently with an ongoing criminal trial against the defendant. Additionally, your family may have grounds for a wrongful death suit in situations involving unintentional torts, such as accidental negligence.

Survival Actions

In discussions with a wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles regarding a potential claim, you might encounter the term “survival action.” This legal recourse, distinct from other actions, can be pursued in California following the loss of a loved one. It seeks damages for a defendant’s negligence or recklessness, with a specific focus on addressing the pain, suffering, and losses experienced by the deceased individual (decedent), rather than those of the family. A survival action is initiated by an attorney on behalf of the decedent’s estate and aims to secure reparations that the deceased person could have pursued had they survived the initial injury. This legal avenue holds the defendant accountable for the decedent’s pain and suffering from the time of the accident until their demise. In the context of a survival action, pain and suffering encompass physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress, and the fear of imminent death. The valuation of a survival action in California is contingent upon the severity of the decedent’s suffering.

How Can a Los Angeles Wrongful Death Attorney Help?

The tragic consequence of another person’s negligence in Los Angeles is wrongful death, and at our law firm, we firmly believe that families should not simply accept such a devastating outcome without a fight. We advocate for justice, answers, closure, and compensation for families who have lost a loved one due to the negligent or reckless actions of another. Engaging the services of an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney specializing in wrongful death cases empowers you to confront one or more responsible parties following a fatal accident. This legal professional can manage the intricate legal aspects of your case while your family copes with grief and strives to heal:

  1. Investigating the accident
  2. Gathering evidence or establishing negligence
  3. Identifying the defendant(s)
  4. Obtaining the decedent’s medical records
  5. Handling complex claim documents
  6. Substantiating the victim’s and family’s losses
  7. Constructing a case against the defendant(s)
  8. Pressing for maximum compensation from insurance companies
  9. Taking the claim to trial in LA County if necessary

A Los Angeles wrongful death attorney comprehends the legal intricacies involved in pursuing such claims in California and can guide you successfully through these processes during this challenging period. Your attorney will accurately assess the value of your wrongful death suit, potentially securing more compensation for your profound loss compared to what you might obtain independently from an insurance company. Beyond moral and financial support, professional legal services also offer crucial personal and emotional assistance. Ultimately, enlisting an attorney can save your family time, money, and considerable stress.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

In California, specific laws dictate the eligibility to file a wrongful death claim. Only certain individuals, recognized as qualifying parties or representatives of the estate, possess the legal right to pursue wrongful death damages. California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60 outlines the specific relatives authorized to file wrongful death lawsuits:

  1. Surviving spouse or domestic partner
  2. Surviving children
  3. Individuals entitled to the property through intestate succession
  4. Putative spouse
  5. Children of a putative spouse
  6. Stepchildren or minor children
  7. Parents

The listed order generally indicates the priority of surviving family members who have the right to initiate wrongful death claims. However, putative spouses and those lower in the hierarchy may only file claims if they can demonstrate financial dependence on the deceased. Additionally, a claim through intestate succession is permissible only when no surviving person exists within the direct line of descent of the decedent.

California Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

Yes, there is a deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in California. This deadline comes in the form of a law in California called a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations keeps wrongful death claims just for both parties by encouraging the plaintiff to file within a reasonable amount of time.

Different statutes of limitations apply to different cases. In most cases under California law, the plaintiff will have two years from the date of a loved one’s death to file a claim. The two-year deadline may or may not come with a discovery rule exception. The discovery rule states that if a plaintiff does not discover his or her injuries until a date later than that of the accident, he or she will have until the date of discovery before the clock starts ticking.

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In a wrongful death claim, the discovery rule may toll the deadline until two years from the date that surviving loved ones discovered – or should have discovered through reasonable diligence – the cause of death. If your family did not recognize the cause of death until later, therefore, you may have longer to file your claim.

Deadlines for some wrongful death cases are longer or shorter than two years based on the circumstances. In medical malpractice cases or if you are filing a claim against the government in California, for example, you will have less time to act.

It is important to take prompt legal action after a wrongful death in your family. If you miss your statute of limitations, you may be ineligible to receive any compensation for your loved one’s death, even if your lawyer can prove negligence. The defendant may use your missed deadline as a defense against his or her liability for the fatal accident. Speak to a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer right away to avoid missing a deadline.

Compensation for Wrongful Death in California

The goal of a wrongful death lawsuit is to seek compensation for a survivor’s past and future losses. These are losses survivors might have suffered financially, emotionally, and mentally. The types of damages available in California for a wrongful death claim can be both economic and non-economic.

Economic damages, or monetary damages, are financial losses, such as the family’s out-of-pocket expenses and future income or even lost household services. Non-economic damages are intangible losses, such as pain and suffering as a result of the victim’s death.

Punitive damages can be awarded if the defendant engaged in a particularly reckless manner resulting in the deceased person’s death. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant and to deter similar egregious behavior in the future.

A successful wrongful death claim in Los Angeles could end in financial compensation for both non-economic and economic losses such as funeral and burial expenses, mental anguish, medical expenses, property repairs, loss of consortium, the deceased person’s pain and suffering, and more.

Find out the potential value of your case during a free evaluation with a dedicated wrongful death lawyer in Los Angeles. While we know a compensation award will not make up for the devastating loss of someone close to you, we hope it can provide a future of better financial stability for your family.

FAQs

How much can I sue for wrongful death in California?

In California, there is no cap on economic or non-economic damages in the majority of wrongful death cases. Nevertheless, there are restrictions on non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims, with a maximum limit of $500,000.

Who can recover for wrongful death in California?

Laws regarding wrongful death lawsuits can differ across states, particularly concerning who is eligible to file such claims. In California, the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit extends to the surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, and dependent minor children who relied on the deceased for at least half of their financial support.

What is the one-action rule for wrongful death in California?

The ‘one action’ rule in California is a legal mechanism aimed at safeguarding defendants in wrongful death cases from facing repetitive lawsuits filed by various family members. Instead of initiating multiple legal actions, potential heirs are required to unite and bring forth only one collective lawsuit in court.

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