What Constitutes Wrongful Death in California?
Losing a loved one undoubtedly always feels “wrong.” Whether the death was wrongful in the eyes of the law, though, depends on the circumstances.
In California, a death is considered wrongful under tort law if the person died as a direct result of another party’s negligence or intentional misconduct. When this is the case, the surviving family members are usually entitled to take action.
A wrongful death suit is a kind of civil suit that aims to recoup the damages the deceased’s relatives incur because of the loss. Examples of such damages include:
- Medical bills;
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Lost income and benefits;
- Loss of household services;
- Loss of anticipated inheritances; and
- Loss of affection, attention, community, love, moral support, and guidance.
It’s important to remember, however, that not all relatives are entitled to compensation in the wake of the loss. Generally speaking, only those who relied on the deceased financially may secure funds for the associated damages. Such parties might include the deceased’s spouse or domestic partner and children or stepchildren.
If the victim is not survived by any immediate family members, those who are entitled to his or her property under the laws of intestate succession may be able to bring a claim. Examples include the deceased’s parents and siblings.
What Kinds of Scenarios Can Result in Wrongful Death?
Car accidents are one of the most common causes of wrongful death. Every year, motor-vehicle collisions are responsible for more than 35,000 fatalities around the country. This figure makes up a significant portion of the roughly 165,000 deaths caused by accidental injuries annually.
Other common causes of wrongful death include:
- Medical malpractice;
- Aircraft accidents;
- Train accidents;
- Boating accidents;
- Slip and fall accidents; and
- Assault and battery.
How Long Does My Family Have to File a Wrongful Death Suit in California?
If you think your loved one’s death could have been prevented had someone acted with reasonable care, it’s wise to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Should the opposing party dispute liability or refuse to offer a fair settlement, going to court may be the only way to pursue the compensation your family deserves—and in California, you have a limited amount of time to do so.
The standard statute of limitations for wrongful death suits is two years. That means such claims must generally be brought within two years from when the cause of action was discovered (or should have been discovered through reasonable diligence). It’s worth noting, however, that if the liability party intentionally killed the victim, there is no filing deadline.
Call 1-800-GO-HARRIS to Discuss Your Case with a California Wrongful Death Attorney
If you think your family has grounds for a wrongful death claim, turn to Harris Personal Injury Lawyers to determine how best to proceed. Our strategic team has helped more than 5,000 clients recover the funds needed to put their lives back together in the wake of tragedy. Call 1-800-GO-HARRIS or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a compassionate wrongful death lawyer in California.