Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
The loss of a loved one is never easy, but when that loss is caused by an unforeseen accident, it can feel even more devastating for the victim’s loved ones. When a death is caused by the negligence or recklessness of another party, the family of the victim can file a civil lawsuit for wrongful death. While money can never fully replace the loss of your loved one, compensation for wrongful death can help cover the financial losses of the death so that you can focus on what is most important during this time — processing your grief. Talk to the knowledgeable California wrongful death attorneys at the GP Law Group in Beverly Hills today for a free consultation of your case.
California Wrongful Death
In California, wrongful death occurs when a person dies because of the wrongful act or negligence of another person. Another way to think of wrongful death is that if the victim would have survived the accident, he or she would have been able to bring a personal injury lawsuit for damages; however, because the victim died, his or her loved ones must now bring a case on his or her behalf. Wrongful death claims can arise from all types of accidents, but they most often result from car accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, slip and fall cases, drowning, assault and battery cases, murder or manslaughter, elder abuse, child abuse, and in medical malpractice cases.
It is also important to note that criminal charges are not required to bring a claim for wrongful death because it is a civil lawsuit. While criminal charges or a conviction is incredibly helpful to a wrongful death case, criminal charges are not necessary for a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death cases must also be filed within a small window of time after the accident. Known as the statute of limitations, the family of the deceased only has two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim. If you fail to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, it can be thrown out of court and barred from collecting damages. Talk to an experienced wrongful death attorney today to review your case.
Who can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Only specific parties are allowed to file a wrongful death claim after a fatal accident. These parties include a victim’s spouse, domestic partner, surviving children, or anyone entitled to an inheritance through intestate succession if no other claimants exist. This can include parents, siblings, and other relatives. Anyone who is financially dependent on the victim but not related by blood may also have a claim for wrongful death, including a putative spouse, stepchildren, and others. Finally, a personal representative of the estate can also bring a claim for wrongful death on behalf of the victim if no one else is available to do so.
Compensation for Wrongful Death Cases
Compensation for wrongful death cases includes economic damages and noneconomic damages that are paid out to both the estate as well as surviving family members. Damages typically paid back to the estate are out-of-pocket expenses like funeral and burial expenses, final medical and hospital bills, and lost future income and benefits that the victim would have collected over the course of his or her career. Compensation for surviving family members in California wrongful death cases usually includes the value of lost household services, loss of anticipated financial support, and the loss of love, security, community, attention, guidance, and companionship.
It is important to note that punitive damages are not available in California wrongful death cases on top of compensatory damages for the loss. However, punitive damages are available through a survival action filed on behalf of the estate, which is different from a civil wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family members of the victim. An experienced wrongful death attorney can review the facts of your case and advise you on all of your options following this type of loss.
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Dealing with the unexpected loss of a loved one because of a wrongful death accident is never easy, but compensation for the loss can help ease the financial burden that comes with a family member’s death. To learn more about your legal options after a wrongful death accident involving your loved one in California, call the office or contact us at the GP Law Group in Beverly Hills today to schedule a free appointment with one of our highly skilled wrongful death attorneys to discuss your case.