Personal injuries, whether to one’s self or to a loved one, can be difficult to understand and especially tough to get through depending on the extent of the injury. However, when that personal injury leads to fatalities, it can become even more devastating. There is nothing more tragic than losing a loved one due to the negligent actions of another. And though this can be a difficult time for all involved, there are ways in which civil justice can be sought against the responsible party through the means of a wrongful death action.
What is a Wrongful Death Action and Who Can Bring the Claim?
When someone dies due to the negligent actions of another, a surviving family member may be able to seek civil justice by bringing a wrongful death claim against the responsible party. The wrongful death claim stems from a negligence action which is considered the failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances. A negligent person can be an auto driver, a person who manufactures a defective product, or a medical provider. Though wrongful death claims usually arise from negligent actions, they can also stem from intentional acts committed by individuals.
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit that is brought directly by the survivors of one’s family and the responsible party must have played a substantial factor in the death of the deceased. California’s Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.60-377.62 governs the different individuals who are allowed to bring a wrongful death action and the damages that may be awarded. The individuals who are allowed to bring a wrongful death action are surviving spouses, domestic partners, surviving children, putative spouses, stepchildren, parents, and any others who can prove that they were financially dependent on the deceased.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
Similar to personal injury claims, wrongful death claims must be filed within a specific time frame. California’s Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1 states that a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date of the decedent’s death. However, California’s Code of Civil Procedure Section 340.5 states that if the action is based on medical malpractice then the statute of limitations is 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 comes first.
If an action is not brought during these time frames then the claim will not be an admissible action. Though damages do not compensate for the loss of a loved one, wrongful death lawsuits seeks compensation for the loss of income, loss of consortium, medical costs from prior to their death, funeral expenses, as well as punitive damages in some cases.
Need Legal Help?
The death of a loved one is tragic and is unexpected and can carry a heavy burden on the family’s finances. However, it does not have to. You may be a viable wrongful death claim that you and your family may be entitled to. Contact an experienced San Diego wrongful death attorney to assess your claim to help you achieve the best possible outcomes.
Injury Trial Lawyers, APC
1230 Columbia Street #560
San Diego, CA 92101