Losing a family member or loved one is never easy, and losing one because of another’s negligence can cause unbearable grief. A California wrongful death lawyer from our firm can work with you and fight to get the award, security, and closure you seek.
Our Los Angeles attorneys understand how sensitive wrongful death cases are, and we know what families go through in the aftermath of a tragic, senseless death. We have resources that can help you get through this difficult time.
Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawyer FAQs
Here are answers to our most frequently asked questions about wrongful death lawsuits. If you don’t see the information you’re looking for here, do not hesitate to call us for more information.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me With My Wrongful Death Case?
There are many reasons why hiring a lawyer may help your case. However, the main reason for hiring an attorney to represent you is that our attorneys understand the law. Wrongful death cases can be complicated and stressful due to emotional hardship. Here are a few more reasons why hiring a lawyer can help.
A lawyer knows ways to add value to your settlement, but more importantly, they understand the value of your case. When we experience loss, especially the loss of someone close, we may lose more than just the person.
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There is no reason you should have to relive every detail of your suffering by gathering the infinite amount of details that go into developing a case. An attorney could be just the support you need. They will guide you through the process while viewing the case without attachment.
Moreover, being able to count on someone to have your best interest at hand will help alleviate unnecessary burdens. Our experience handling personal injury cases, attention to detail, and knowledge of the law can help you seek damages.
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We can work on filing a lawsuit within the statute of limitations (the time you have to file the case). You can save yourself the time you would have to spend gathering and building the case if you choose to get a lawyer. A wrongful death attorney on our team can help you meet deadlines and gather pertinent and timely information.
By allowing us to manage your case, you will have more time to process your emotions without the demand of time a case like this can present.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Claim in Los Angeles?
According to California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1, a person has two years from the time of the incident to file a wrongful death lawsuit, it can vary depending on who or what was involved.
Here are two factors that can change the statute of limitation for a wrongful death claim and their limits:
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Government Entity or Government Vehicle
As per California Government Code (GOV) §911.2, before filing claims against a government entity, you must send them an administrative claim that they must respond to within 45 days, and their response, or lack of, determines how much time you then have to file.
If they deny your request, you have six months from the time of delivery to file, per GOV §913.
If you do not receive a response in 45 days, you have two years from the incident to file, per GOV §945.6 (a)(2).
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You have three years from the time of injury or one year from discovery of the issue, per CCP §340.5. Other factors that can stall or “toll” a statute of limitation:
- Age of plaintiff
- No prior knowledge of incident negligence
- Certain emergencies
Each case will be different and may be subject to exceptions based on the specifics of the case. These exceptions are why hiring a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer could be the route to take in these circumstances.
What Happens When You Go to Court for a Wrongful Death Case in Los Angeles?
When going to court for a wrongful death case, make sure you are eligible to file and make sure to gather the necessary proof of negligence. Only certain people can file a claim for wrongful death, per CCP §377.60, which include:
- Domestic partners or spouses
- Parents of the deceased
- Children of the deceased
- Victim’s appointed representative
You need evidence that establishes the other party’s negligence, which is why you may find it helpful to hire a wrongful death lawyer.
Choosing a Judge or Jury
Should you conclude that you cannot settle out of court, you will then choose to use a judge or jury to finalize your claim. Not all cases have the option for a jury.
If you choose a jury, there may be additional costs. Regardless of the path your case takes, you will want to prepare all evidence and witness testimony to argue that the other party was negligent. A consultation with a member of our team can help ease your mind as we help discuss your case options.
Opening Statements and Presenting the Case
Opening statements allow you and the defendant to outline what you want to prove in the case. Once both parties have made their statements, they can then present the case, which the plaintiff does first.
At this point, witnesses will answer various questions the defendant’s attorney may pose. Throughout this process, you or your attorney can dispute claims or questions, and the opposing side may do the same.
These are the final statements by both parties to conclude their arguments. These statements are the last exchange of information, and ultimate opportunity for persuasion, before the decision-making process begins.
Deciding the Case
In a case with a jury, deliberations involve meeting to discuss the evidence presented and arguments made. After the jury reaches a decision, they will announce it to the court.
In a judge case, the judge may decide shortly after receiving closing statements, or they may decide to take the case “under submission.” If this happens, the judge will mail the outcome to each party, and it will be entered as a judgment to make it official.
Definition of Wrongful Death
According to California Code of Civil Procedure §377.60, a wrongful death occurs if one person has caused the death of another person through an act of neglect or through a deliberate act, such as through abuse. Under state law, a few different people related to the deceased have the right to bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of the victim, including:
- Domestic partner
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California
According to CCP § 377.60, a California wrongful death lawsuit can be brought by a deceased’s spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren, or other minor children dependent on the deceased for at least 50% of their financial support, such as stepchildren.
California CCP § 335.1 allows a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits. This means that you must bring a civil action within two years of the deceased’s time of death. If you do fail to take legal action before this deadline expires, it could prevent you from recovering compensation via a lawsuit.
Working With a Lawyer on Your Case
When you work with a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer from Pintas & Mullins Law Firm on your case, we can provide a host of legal services to take the weight of the case out of your hands. In addition to communicating with all parties on your behalf, we can:
- Answer your questions and provide legal advice
- Conduct your case according to California law
- Handle all legal deadlines and paperwork
- Investigate your case and identify the liable party
- Gather evidence of their liability
- Gather evidence of the extent of your losses
- Hire medical and accident reconstructions experts to testify in your defense, if needed
- Negotiate with the responsible party’s insurance company for a settlement
- Take your case to trial if they do not make you a fair offer
We hope that these services give you time and space from the legal proceedings to grieve.
Determining Whether You Have a Case
Proving liability in a wrongful death case may boil down to four elements:
- Duty of care: your loved one was owed a duty of care by the responsible party, i.e., the safe use of the road by other drivers obeying traffic law.
- Breach of duty: the responsible party’s negligence caused them to breach the duty of care, i.e., by running a red light.
- Injuries: the breach caused fatal injuries to your loved one, i.e., in the resulting car accident
- Damages: the injuries brought you financial losses, i.e., funeral and burial costs, loss of protection, etc.
What You May Recover in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
You can seek both economic and non-economic damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Economic damages may compensate the deceased’s family for expenses related to their death, as well as future financial support they would have received from the deceased if they had lived.
Examples of economic damages in wrongful death suits include:
- Hospital and ambulance costs
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Wages the deceased would have earned
- Domestic services the deceased would have provided
Non-economic damages include awards to compensate for the loss of the deceased’s companionship, affection, emotional support, and protection. Surviving spouses and domestic partners may also seek compensation for loss of consortium.
How Much Does a Wrongful Death Lawyer Charge?
A lack of available funds shouldn’t stop you from seeking justice, and that’s why personal injury lawyers don’t require any fees up front. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not accept payment for our services until the case reaches a satisfactory settlement. Our fee comes from the final settlement.
Let Us Protect Your Right to Seek Compensation
After a wrongful death occurs, consider hiring a Los Angeles death lawyer. We understand that a wrongful death lawsuit cannot bring your loved one back or ease your pain and suffering. However, it can help recovering from your loss smoother.
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, our team knows how to break down the facts in a wrongful death case, interviewing witnesses and studying medical records to determine exactly what happened. We do not shy away from taking on tough cases, as we attempt to seek justice for the victims.