There is nothing more tragic than the untimely death of a loved one. To make matters worse, the death of a family member sometimes occurs as the result of someone’s negligence. When this happens, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim against the responsible party.
At Injury Trial Lawyers, APC, we have 20 years experience standing up for the rights of family members who lost a loved one in a fatal accident. Call personal injury attorney Richard Morse to assess your claim. We offer a free consultation and you pay nothing unless we win.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
When someone is injured because of a car accident, a defective product, a dog bite, or due to elder abuse, the victim can pursue a legal claim to obtain compensation. When the injuries lead to death, however, the victim who was harmed obviously cannot sue.
Instead, under California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60 the surviving family members can pursue a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death cases ensure that individuals and companies do not escape liability for their negligence or wrongful actions just because they kill their victims. They also make it possible for surviving family members to obtain compensation for the devastating loss that they have endured.
A wrongful death lawsuit seeks compensation for the loss of income, loss of consortium, and potentially punitive damages, discussed in more detail below.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The following surviving relatives of a deceased person may sue:
- Domestic partner
The following people can also bring a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Putative spouse and children of the putative spouse
- Stepchildren, and
The parties listed above must be able to show they were financially dependent on the deceased.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Most wrongful death actions are governed by the 2-year limitation period found in California Code of Civil Procedure §335.1, which begins from the date of death.
However, lawsuits for wrongful death based on medical malpractice are subject to the limitations outlined in California Code of Civil Procedure § 340.5. Under this section, a party has three years from the date of injury or “one year after the plaintiff discovers, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the injury, whichever occurs first.”
Lastly, if the defendant is a government entity, then the injured party has 6 months from the decedent’s death to present the claim. (See Government Code § 945.6.)
What Can You Recover in a Wrongful Death Claim?
In a wrongful death case, the damages can be significant. The deceased likely earned money before he or she was killed and used that money to help support family members. A lifetime of these financial contributions is eliminated with the victim’s untimely death. Loved ones left behind can pursue a claim to obtain compensation for this loss of financial support.
Wrongful death damages should also cover:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses prior to death
- Loss of companionship: often referred to as loss of consortium
- Loss of Services: services of the decedent that would have saved the survivor time and effort or expense of hiring someone else
- Loss of Training and Advice: this refers to the moral and practical training a child could have received from a deceased parent, and
- Punitive damages: they are normally not recoverable in a wrongful death action under CCP § 377.60, regardless of the defendant’s conduct. The exception to this rule is if the defendant is convicted of felony homicide in the victim’s death.
Compensation for these economic and non-financial losses can be obtained in court or by negotiating an out-of-court settlement with the party responsible for the fatality. If a trial is necessary, you want an attorney with a proven track record of winning these cases throughout all San Diego courts.
Speak With A San Diego Wrongful Death Attorney Today
Injury Trial Lawyers, APC can help you to determine if a wrongful death suit is the best course of action. If we take your case, we will represent you during trial and all settlement negotiations. There is no charge unless we win.
Schedule your free consultation today and learn how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.