Attorney Portrait Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in California

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The Code of Civil Procedure, Sect. 335.1 sets forth the statute of limitations for bringing a wrongful death suit in California as two years from the date of injury or death. This is the case with most wrongful death claims, but there are several other situations where a different statute of limitations could apply. Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in California In addition to the standard two-year cut off from the date of injury or death, there are two other scenarios that may apply to wrongful death claims in California. The first involves medical malpractice, or health care provider negligence. In these matters, the wrongful death statute of limitations is either three years from the date of injury; or one year after the plaintiff discovers the problem or should have discovered the injury — whichever comes first. If the wrongful death claim is based on government tort liability, like a motor vehicle accident with a county or city vehicle, then any claim against the government must be filed within six months of the injury. What is the California Wrongful Death Statute? Under the California statute, there is a wrongful death if the following elements are present: Negligence or wrongful act Resulting death Damages, consisting of pecuniary loss sustained by the heirs This law allows certain people to bring a claim for compensation for their financial losses that resulted from someone else’s untimely death. It is a civil lawsuit and it can be brought against the person or people who were responsible for the person’s death.  Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim? Under the California wrongful death statute, only certain people can lawfully bring a claim for wrongful death. Some of these include: Surviving spouse if married at the time of death Children of the deceased Surviving registered domestic partner If the deceased did not have any of the aforementioned relatives, then an heir could be anyone who would be entitled to the deceased’s property, as if he or she died intestate (without a will). If there were other people who were dependent on the deceased, like a putative spouse or the putative spouse’s children, or parents or stepparents of the deceased, they could also be eligible to file in this situation. Additionally, any minor, provided they resided with the deceased for at least 180 days and were financially dependent on the deceased for at least 50 percent of their support. If there are multiple claimants to a wrongful death claim, they must be joined together in one single court action. There cannot be multiple claims filed against the responsible party. California follows the “one action rule,” which means all claimants must be on one lawsuit. There is a good reason for this rule, which protects the defendant from defense costs on more than one lawsuit, and it helps prevent an inconsistent ruling resulting from having more than one case. Claimants who are not joined on the original wrongful death lawsuit could be barred from bringing their own action against the responsible person or party. This would be unfair, which is why the heirs have a mandatory responsibility to include any known heirs. If an heir intentionally leaves off a claimant, the heir may be responsible to the other claimant. Types of Compensation in a California Wrongful Death Claim Plaintiffs who bring a wrongful death action on behalf of a loved one seek compensation for a variety of damages. Some of the more common ones include: Medical expenses and vehicle damages (pursued under survival action) Burial and funeral expenses Loss of companionship Loss of financial support Other economic losses Emotional distress of parent or sibling who witnessed the incident Out of pocket expenses Valuing a Wrongful Death Claim Putting a value on certain aspects of wrongful death can be extremely complex. It is not easy to determine how deep the expected loss of financial support might run, sexual relationship, or supposal support around the household services. There needs to be an analysis of the person’s past and future expected earnings, his or her employment background, capabilities, and special talents, as well as determining the needs of surviving heirs. Proving life expectancy can be difficult and may require the expertise of an expert who can consider important factors like the person’s age, activities, health, lifestyle, past medical problems, current health habits and exercise, and other related information. Determining a monetary value regarding the loss of care, comfort, and moral support by the heirs is a sensitive area. This is why it’s important to retain a California wrongful death attorney who specializes in these matters. Only an attorney who has ample experience evaluating wrongful death claims can present a figure to the other side that is quantifiable but also takes the emotional aspects into account. If you’ve lost a loved one in a wrongful death accident, call the Beliz Law Firm for a complimentary consultation.

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Attorney Portrait Car Accidents

What is the Average Settlement for a Wrongful Death Car Accident?

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When a loved one is taken from us, especially by a senseless accident, we may be filled with feelings like rage and sadness at our sense of loss. There’s no way to replace the loved one and nothing you do will ever bring them back, but the law allows us to get justice in the only way it can. That is by filing a lawsuit against the negligent party. While money can never replace your loved one, it’s one of the few ways that the law allows us to get compensation for our loss. Understanding Wrongful Death Lawsuits Wrongful death lawsuits are an extension of personal injury law. Different states have different rules concerning how wrongful death lawsuits are litigated. Typically, they are brought on behalf of those surviving the deceased or the deceased’s estate. In California, certain surviving members of the deceased’s family may bring a lawsuit against a negligent party. However, the statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits is 2 years. Any lawsuits brought forth after two years are almost always dismissed without ever seeing a jury. Factors Involved in Calculating Losses Surviving loved ones are allowed to collect on any of the following damages: Loss of companionship and emotional distress, Loss of services to the household which includes damages for loss of income. This is calculated based on the age of the deceased minus that average life expectancy and their anticipated earning power Loss of sexual relationship with the deceased, Burial and funeral expenses, Medical bills related to the defendant’s negligence, In certain instances, individual plaintiffs can collect for individual injuries to them suffered because of the loss of the deceased, like the loss of consortium in the case of a spouse. Who is At-Fault for the Accident? When you sue an individual who responsible for the death of a loved one, especially in a situation as common as a car accident, they are typically carrying auto insurance that pays out damages to the victim. In this case, auto insurance has minimum policies in California of $15,000 for bodily injuries or the death of an individual. This is extremely low compared to the life of your loved one.  Therefore your attorney will look at all avenues for compensation.  This includes looking at the third party driver but the possibility of the driver working at the time of the accident. Uninsured/underinsured motorist’s coverage may be sought from the deceased’s insurance company if the negligent driver does not have or has low insurance limits.  Finally, your attorney will investigate whether there could be a governmental claim. This could be for design defect in the road construction or lack of appropriate traffic devices.   If there is a governmental claim, the statute of limitations is 6 months to bring a claim against the proper city, county, or state agency. In other words, how much you can collect depends entirely on who caused the accident and why. Contact a California Wrongful Death Attorney If a loved one has been taken from you due to the negligence of another person, call the personal injury attorneys at Beliz Law Firm. We will fight tirelessly to ensure that you are compensated for your loss. Give us a call at (562) 452-3772 or contact us online and we can begin discussing your case immediately.

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Attorney Portrait Wrongful Death

How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California

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If your loved one has died due to an act of negligence or malice, you are entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. Most folks don’t know where to begin or what they’ll need to prove, however. The process is complicated not simply because of the complex emotions that are involved, but also because plaintiffs generally end up filing multiple causes of action against a single defendant. Here, we’ll talk about everything you need to know to file a wrongful death lawsuit against an at-fault party in the State of California. Survival Actions Under California law, the descendants of a victim of a wrongful death can file a lawsuit directly against an at-fault party. In addition, the victim’s estate can also file suit against the at-fault party. While these are considered two separate actions under the law, they can be litigated concurrently. Survival actions are described by California Civil Code 377.30. Since survival actions are brought on behalf the victim’s estate on behalf of his or her heirs, they sue for a specific set of damages. Those damages include: Claims that are not related to the victim’s death but the victim had a right to sue for on or before the date of their death; And claims related to the victim’s death when the victim survives the injuries for a short period of time. Unlike wrongful death lawsuits, survival actions can sue for punitive damages, which is significant. In the event that a defendant is guilty of either gross negligence or willful misconduct, the plaintiff may pursue punitive damages against the defendant. That money is paid directly to the estate and then distributed to their heirs. Wrongful Death Actions Wrongful death actions are a kind of personal injury lawsuit that brought on behalf of a victim’s family when the victim can no longer bring the action themselves. Types of deaths that support a wrongful death action include: Car or traffic accidents including drunk driving accidents, Murder or manslaughter, Medical malpractice, Elder abuse, Slip and fall accidents, Product liability (when a defective product causes a death), And dog bites or dog attacks. These are considered grounds for a lawsuit. Except in cases of product liability or dog bites, the plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant acted negligently or maliciously. When a defendant acts maliciously or their negligence is so gross that it shows no concern for the rights and safety of others at all, the plaintiff can pursue punitive damages which punish the defendant for their actions. In addition, surviving family members must show that they suffered personally from the deceased’s death. Who Can Bring a Cause of Action in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit California Civil Code 377.30 defines who may bring a cause of action in wrongful death lawsuit. They include: Spouses or domestic partners, Children or grandchildren (when the deceased’s children are deceased), Minors who were financially dependant on the deceased’s income, Anyone who is considered an heir under California’s laws of intestate succession. Call a California Wrongful Death Attorney Today If a loved one has died due to the negligence or malice of another party, call the wrongful death attorneys at Beliz Law Firm at (562) 452-3772 or contact us online and we can begin building your case right away.

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Attorney Portrait Wrongful Death

What Is Wrongful Death?

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A wrongful death claim arises under California law when a person dies because of another person’s negligent or wrongful act. A wrongful death is particularly devastating because it is both unexpected and preventable. The survivors of the victim may file a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages from the wrongdoer. Note that a wrongful death lawsuit is separate from any criminal proceedings that might be brought against the party allegedly responsible for the death. Plus the family does not have to wait for a criminal trial to conclude before filing their wrongful death claim. Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim? Not everyone is able to file a wrongful death lawsuit after the loss of a loved one. Instead, California law permits the following parties to file a wrongful death lawsuit: The decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner; The decedent’s surviving children or grandchildren if the children are also deceased; and If there is no surviving person in the decedent’s direct line of descent, anyone who would be entitled to the decedent’s property according to intestate succession, such as parents and siblings. (Intestate succession is a way of distributing property if a person dies without leaving behind a will.) Certain people who were financially dependent on the decedent may also file a wrongful death lawsuit: The “putative spouse.” This means the surviving spouse of a void or voidable marriage who believed that the marriage was valid; The children of the putative spouse; The decedent’s stepchildren; The decedent’s parents and A minor who lived with the decedent for at least six months at the time of death and depended on the decedent for more than half of his or her support. What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Suit? The specific amount of damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit depends on the facts of the particular case. But damages that courts generally award include: Losses associated with the death, like medical and funeral expenses; Lost income, including the income that the decedent would have earned in the future had she or he lived; and Noneconomic damages, like loss of love and support. Contact Us Today for Assistance There is no reason that you should have to suffer any more in the aftermath of the loss of a loved one. Instead, it is in your best interest to reach out to a dedicated attorney for help. A lawyer can assist you in filing a wrongful death lawsuit to ensure you are able to recover the compensation that you deserve for your losses Contact our office in Long Beach, California, for a free consultation if your loved one was killed because of another person’s negligent or wrongful act. Our personal injury attorneys will help you file a wrongful death claim and help recover both economic and noneconomic damage

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Attorney Portrait Wrongful Death

Settling a Wrongful Death Claim

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Trials are not always necessary to resolve a wrongful death lawsuit. Sometimes the parties reach an amicable settlement agreement outside of the courtroom, either before or after the proceedings begin. A settlement agreement is a legally binding contract in which one party forgoes his or her claim if the other party pays the amount set forth in the settlement. A settlement is enforceable if agreed to in a writing signed by the parties outside the courtroom or if agreed to orally before the court. The parties may then move for the court to enter judgment according to the settlement terms. California law authorizes courts to enforce such agreements. Yet, a settlement agreement does not necessarily resolve all the claims against a particular wrongdoer. For example, the decedent’s surviving spouse might decide to settle, while the decedent’s parents — if financially dependent upon their child — might choose to go to court.   What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?   A wrongful death claim arises under California law when a person dies because of another person’s negligent or wrongful act. The survivors of the victim may file a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages from the wrongdoer. California permits spouses, children, parents and other relatives to file wrongful death claims under certain circumstances. It is important to understand the types of compensation available to those who choose to file a wrongful death claim. Specifically, there are two general categories of damages that survivors may seek. These are economic and noneconomic. Common economic damages awarded in wrongful death cases include medical bills, financial support (the amount the decedent would have contributed to the family over the course of his or her lifetime), and funeral and burial expenses. Noneconomic damages can be difficult to quantify. They compensate survivors for the loss of the decedent’s love, companionship, and moral support, among other nonfinancial losses. Negotiating a Settlement Agreement The amount of damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit depends on the facts of the case and the policy limits of the insurance. However, claims can often settle for millions of dollars. An experienced attorney can examine the facts of your case and help you determine your best course of action. This could be to seek or accept a settlement agreement or proceed to trial. Contact Us Today for Assistance Moving forward after losing a loved one can be a difficult process, which is only compounded by mounting bills. If you find yourself in this situation, we advise you to reach out to a skilled attorney for help with your case. Contact our office in Long Beach, California for a free consultation if your loved one was killed because of another person’s negligent or wrongful act. Our personal injury attorneys will help resolve your wrongful death claim and help recover compensation for your loss.

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Attorney Portrait Personal Injury

Who Can File a Long Beach Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

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A sudden death of your loved one is shocking and upsetting. When the death results from someone else’s fault, it is normal to have questions about your legal options. For surviving family members a wrongful death lawsuit may be in order. It is impossible to replace a loved one whose death occurred due to another’s negligence. Before you bring a suit, it is important to meet with a Long Beach wrongful death lawyer. Discuss your case and legal details, including specifics of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Be aware, however, that only certain family members can do so. Only Certain Parties Can Bring Forth Wrongful Death Actions in California Each state sets its own laws regarding who can bring forth a wrongful death action. In California, only certain family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. These parties include the decedent’s: Spouse; Children; or Domestic partner. If none of the above parties exist, there are special circumstances. Section 337.60 of California Code of Civil Procedure, allows for any person “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession” to bring forth a claim. In some cases, other parties may bring a claim. This includes stepchildren or parents of the deceased. The parties must prove they were dependent on the decedent. You Must File a Suit within Two Years There is a two-year statute of limitations on filing wrongful death lawsuits in California. This applies to all parties who may be eligible to file. If you wait longer than two years to bring forth your action, you will lose your right to the claim. When a minor child faces injury, the child has until the age of 18 years old plus 2 years to either settle the claim or file a lawsuit for injuries. This is not true for wrongful death cases. A minor child who has standing in a wrongful death claim only has 2 years. There is one exception to the two years. If the wrongful party is a government agency than the time frame is shorten to six months. Are there specific types of compensation surviving family members can recover? A person with standing to sue may recover damages from the responsible party, based upon: ● The value of the deceased’s contribution to the household, financially and otherwise; ● The losses that will result from anticipated financial support; and, ● Emotional losses, including loss of affection, moral support, and guidance. Contact Us Today If a family member has died to the wrongful acts of another and you believe you have the right to file a lawsuit based on the information above, contact The Beliz Law Firm for a free consultation. Our Long Beach wrongful death lawyers are available by phone 24 hours a day.

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