4 Things You Need to Know About Wrongful Death Claims in California

Losing a loved one can be one of the most difficult experiences to endure, especially if that loss resulted from the negligent and preventable acts of another. When families experience preventable losses, they may have the right to pursue legal action against the at-fault party who caused their relative’s death to not only recover financial compensation, but also hold the wrongdoer accountable.

At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, our Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers provide the experienced and compassionate representation families need to protect their rights and seek justice following the preventable death of a loved one. Because we also want clients to understand how these claims work, we have put together a few important facts about these cases.

Only certain family members can bring a claim.

Per California’s wrongful death statute, only certain family members of the deceased have the right to bring legal action. These include:

  • Surviving spouses or domestic partners
  • Surviving children or dependents
  • Surviving relatives entitled to the deceased’s property by intestate succession
  • Putative spouse, children, stepchildren, or parents
  • Minors who resided with the decedent for 180 days prior to death, and were dependent on the decedent for one-half of more of their support

Depending on the circumstances, determining who is eligible to bring a wrongful death claim may not always be a straightforward issue. Our legal team can assist you in determining your eligibility based on your relationship to the deceased.

Wrongful death claims are separate from any criminal matters.

In some cases of wrongful death, especially those resulting from criminal acts, at-fault parties may also face criminal charges for their conduct (i.e. DUI vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated). However, criminal cases are conducted separately from any civil matters, and do not serve as a viable source of compensation. Whether or not a criminal case is involved in your matter, pursuing a civil wrongful death claim is the most viable way to recover compensation, and to further your sense of justice by holding the wrongdoer civilly liable.

There is a time limit in place for filing lawsuits.

Just as with any personal injury claim, there are strict time limits in place for filing a wrongful death claim. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations. For most cases, the statute of limitations is 2 years from the date of death.

Families can recover financial compensation.

One of the most important factors in a wrongful death claim is that families will be eligible to recover financial compensation for their losses. As unforeseen death can create tremendous economic and non-economic damages, victims will be entitled to a recovery of any medical bills, funeral and burial costs, lost projected income that would have been provided by the deceased, lost financial support, and emotional injuries such as mental anguish and loss of companionship or consortium, among others.

Wrongful death claims represent difficult personal experiences, and they have the potential for being challenging legal battles. As such, families can work with proven attorneys like those at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP to handle the legal aspects of their case, and work toward providing the clear and convincing evidence needed to hold an at-fault party accountable. If you have questions about your potential case and how our firm can help, contact us for a FREE consultation.