No amount of money can ever compensate for the loss of a loved one. However, when the death has been caused as a result of someone’s negligence, filing a claim for compensation can help you recover money that could help reduce the financial strain of the loss. California’s wrongful death laws allow survivors or the estate of the deceased to recover monetary damages through a wrongful death claim.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In the state of California, the following entities have the right to file a claim. Technically, the claim must be filed by the personal representative of the estate. This personal representative may be:
- The deceased’s spouse
- The deceased’s adult child
- The deceased’s parent in the case of the death of a minor child
A claim to recover damages for wrongful death California may include economic as well as noneconomic losses.
- Death and burial costs
- Medical expenses
- Loss of the deceased’s income
- Loss of benefits
- Loss of other financial services
- Loss of care and death, companionship, care and assistance,
- Loss of consortium (to be claimed by the deceased’s spouse)
- Damages for pain and suffering
- Loss of education and guidance of children
Statute of Limitations
A claim in California must be filed within a period of two years after the death. Say, for example, a person met with an accident, and was hospitalized for a few days before succumbing to his injuries. The claim must be filed within two years from the date of the death, not the date of the accident. The statute of limitations that applies to these claims is extremely rigid, and if the time limit runs out, your claim is no longer valid.
Once your wrongful death lawyers has determined who the negligent party (or parties) was in the death of your loved one, he will file an official legal action against the wrongdoer. Each case is unique and the amount of time that a wrongful death case will take will depend on the individual facts of your case. During the process, however, your wrongful death lawyer will determine what the value of your case should be. The value of your case will depend on a number of factors including the earning capacity and potential of the decedent, the age and general health of the decedent at the time of death, the relationship between you and the decedent and the circumstances surrounding the decedent’s death. You will work closely with your wrongful death lawyer to make sure that you receive all the compensation to which you are legally entitled.
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit cannot change the loss you have suffered, but with the help of a wrongful death lawyer you may be able to receive compensation that can assist you and your family in the months and years to come as well as make sure the negligent party is held accountable for his actions.
If you would like a free and detailed evaluation of your potential wrongful death action, please contact wrongful death attorney Emery Ledger of The Ledger Law Firm at (800) 300-0001.
Wrongful Death Questions
How much of a settlement is my family entitled to?
Since each case is unique, the potential settlement amount will depend on a variety of factors. Claims for wrongful death can include compensation for related medical and burial expenses, loss of income, mental anguish, loss of companionship, loss of anticipated future, income, loss of services, loss of family benefits, care and assistance, pain and suffering, general damages, punitive damages, and legal fees.
Can I bring a wrongful death action if the deceased never held a job?
California wrongful death claims often involve children or adults who did not have a steady income. Compensation for loss of companionship, care or other method of family contribution may be requested in the wrongful death lawsuit. The loss of non-moneary contributions, such as the role a stay at home mom or housewife provides, is considered a “pecuniary loss” in a wrongful death action.
What does my lawyer have to prove for my claim to be successful?
Wrongful death lawyers have to show that your loved one’s death resulted from the negligent acts of the defendant and a financial loss occurred as a result of the death, including loss of income, medical and burial expenses, and others.
What Can I Expect from My Wrongful Death Lawyer?
The loss of a family member or loved one is never easy – even when it happens peacefully as the result of old age. When the death is caused by the negligence of another, it can be a time of sadness, anger, confusion, denial and frustration. It can also be scary. In many cases, the surviving family members were dependant on the decedent for financial, household or emotional support. Losing someone unexpectedly can create fear of the future along with the sadness of today. While a wrongful death lawsuit will not bring back your loved one, it can help ease your fear of the future as well as hold the negligent party responsible.
State law will determine who is entitled to file as the claimant in a wrongful death lawsuit. In most cases, the spouse and immediate family members are entitled to file as a claimant. Check with a wrongful death lawyer to ascertain whether you are entitled to file as a claimant. Once you have determined that you may file as a claimant, the nest step is to obtain the services of a wrongful death lawyer to represent you in the lawsuit. The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to compensate the surviving family members for their loss. Your wrongful death lawyer will carefully evaluate both the circumstances that led to the death of your loved one as well as your circumstances prior to the death. The reason for this is that your wrongful death lawyer must first prove that the defendant was negligent and that the negligence caused or contributed to the death of your loved one. Once negligence has been established, your wrongful death lawyer must fight to get you the compensation to which you are entitled.
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