Filing for a wrongful death claim in the State of California can be a highly complex and difficult matter. After dealing with the sudden and unexpected death of a loved one, many victims’ survivors may need to seek compensation for their losses. While no form of restitution can help fill the void of the sudden death of a loved one, a wrongful death claim can help individuals deal with the heartbreaking situation.
Understanding wrongful death claims in the State of California can be beneficial when seeking to file a claim. There are various rules and regulations that a claimant must abide by which include, but are not limited to: the amounts of damages a claimant can receive, who is eligible to file for the suit, and the time restrictions that apply. If you seek to file a wrongful death claim, one of the best attainable resources is to contact a qualified attorney who is licensed in the State of California. An attorney who has experience in the State of California will be able to guide you through the process and be sure that the lawsuit presented has the best opportunity at being successful.
Wrongful Death Claims: An Overview
In the State of California, a wrongful death claim is result of the negligent act of a person or entity that ultimately caused someone’s death. In the State of California, wrongful death claims are a civil lawsuit. Wrongful death claims are presented to a court directly by the survivors of the victim, usually by way of their wrongful death attorney. They can also be presented by the personal representative of the victim’s estate. Further, wrongful death claims are only used to recover monetary damages from the negligent perpetrator. Upon a successful civil suit, the court will order the negligent entity to pay the victim’s survivors. In some cases, before a court trial, negligent parties may settlement offers in an effort to avoid court and or avoid the details of the death and payout from becoming public record for all to see.
The previous factors are what set a wrongful death claim apart from a criminal case for the homicide of the victim. Criminal cases are brought forth by the State of California in which a person who is found guilty is penalized by incarceration, fines, or probation. It is worth to mention that a wrongful death claim can be brought forth even if there is an open criminal case. Each case, while usually handled in California Superior Courts, are in different divisions and follow different guidelines as well as have very different potential outcomes.
Who is Eligible to file a Wrongful Death Claim in the State of California?
In the State of California, there are only limited types of people who are eligible to file for a wrongful death lawsuit. According the California’s Article 6 of the Code of Civil Procedure, only the following parties are eligible to file a wrongful death claim.
- Surviving spouse
- Domestic partner
- Surviving children
- In the event that there are no surviving people in the victim’s descent succession, a wrongful death lawsuit may then be brought forth by someone who will be entitled to the property by intestate succession. These can include the victim’s parents or siblings. Intestate succession is a common probate court term in which if no will or trust (estate planning), the court has a standard line of succession for inheritance. This would apply here to determine who is the rightful party to seek claim for the loss.
In addition, the following individuals can also bring forth a wrongful death claim if they can demonstrate that they were economically dependent on the victim:
- The victim’s putative spouse
- The victim’s stepchildren
- The victim’s parents
If you have a reason to believe that you have the right to file a claim for a recovery due to a loved one’s sudden death, speak to a qualified and experienced attorney who can assist you. A qualified attorney will be able to guide you through the claim process and will have the legal understanding necessary to be able inform you if you have a legal standing to file the claim. Further, you can also read more about who can qualify to file a claim for a wrongful death lawsuit in the California wrongful death statute.
Understanding the Damages Available in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
There are several different types of personal injury damages which are available in a wrongful death case in the State of California. The amounts of each case will vary based on the facts of each individual claim.
Typically, Damages are allocated according to the following:
- To reimburse the estate for losses associated with the death, or
- To the surviving loved ones for their personal losses they experienced in respect to the victim’s death
Losses typically credited to the estate include, but are not limited to the following:
- Funeral service and other burial expenditures
- Medical and hospital expenses for the victim’s final ailment and/or injury sustained, and
- Lost salary, which includes the potential income the perished victim would reasonably have been expected to earn had he or she survived.
Losses typically credited to the victim’s surviving loved ones include, but are not limited to:
- The value of domestic services
- The loss of any expected economic support, and
- The loss of love, moral support, affection, and guidance.
Wrongful Death Claim: Time Restrictions Involving the Filing of the Claim in the State of California
Similar to many personal injury cases, wrongful death claims in the State of California must be filed within a specific time period. Legally, this is known as a statute of limitations. The State of California law requires that a wrongful death claim be filed within two (2) years of the date of the person’s death. In many cases, if the family or victim’s loved ones fail to file the case in the State of California’s civil court system, the claim will likely not be no longer valid.
Filing for a wrongful death claim in the State of California will have many deadlines that a claimant must be mindful of. This includes the initial statute of limitations of the entire case. If you or someone you know is considering filing a wrongful death claim in the State of California, consider speaking to a qualified attorney. An attorney with the right experience will be aware of these strict deadlines and will ensure that your case is submitted in a timely manner. If there is a potential for a valid case, a deadline should not be a reason to lose the ability to file a wrongful death claim.
Obtaining Legal Support for Wrongful Death Claims
Filing a wrongful death claim can be a complex matter. The law can often be difficult to understand which may make it difficult to know if you have a standing in the right to file for a claim. Further, there are strict time frames that a claim must be filed in. In order to ensure that you have the best opportunity at a successful case, speak to a qualified attorney who can help guide you through the entire process.
The attorneys at the Nehora Law Firm are highly qualified in the personal injury area of wrongful death claims. They have helped many victims’ family members and other loved ones to recover the compensation they are owed for the grievances caused by the victims’ deaths.