Many wrongful death claims are like personal injury claims, as they can arise from someone’s negligence or intentional actions. For instance, a vehicular accident by a distracted driver can potentially kill motorists, passengers, or pedestrians. Meanwhile, a surgical error or prescribing the wrong drug can result in a patient’s death and make the physician guilty of medical malpractice.
Other types of wrongful death claims include product liability, premises liability, workplace accidents, drownings, or airplane crashes. Deaths that resulted from crimes like murder and manslaughter could also qualify for a wrongful death claim.
Who Can File the Claim and Receive Compensation
Typically, individuals who had a relationship with the victim and suffered losses from their death file wrongful death claims. These surviving loved ones eligible to file vary by state but generally include family members such as spouses and children. For unmarried or minor victims, the parents can file the claim in their stead.
California law adds other categories of eligible loved ones who can file and recover damages. Aside from the survivors listed above, California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §377.60 adds putative spouses and stepchildren as individuals who can take legal action.
Types of Damages You Could Recover in a Wrongful Death Claim
The damages you can recover in a Los Angeles wrongful death claim often resemble those in personal injury cases. You can get reimbursement for economic damages such as medical expenses and lost income. One notable addition is that you could also recover for funeral and burial costs. You can also obtain noneconomic damages such as loss of consortium for spouses and the loss of the victim’s love, emotional support, and overall value to surviving loved ones such as children and parents.
California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) No. 3921 states that you cannot receive punitive damages in a wrongful death claim if the cause is only gross negligence. However, California CIvil Code (CIV) §3294(d) allows loved ones to recover punitive (exemplary) damages if their family member died in a felony homicide.
How Much You Can Receive from a Wrongful Death Claim
The amount you can recover in a wrongful death claim depends on your total economic damages, the circumstances behind the death, and the loss of the victim’s value to the surviving loved ones. California does not employ formulas for computing noneconomic damages. As such, courts and attorneys often use a multiplier to determine their value, taking the economic damages and multiplying them by a particular value.
California’s comparative negligence laws might also come into play and reduce your total recoverable damages if the court finds the deceased partly at fault for the incident that led to their death.
Gathering as much evidence of the other party’s liability and compiling records of your expenses can help ensure that a wrongful death lawyer calculates your damages accurately so that you can recover a more appropriate amount. An attorney can also negotiate with the defendant’s legal team on a settlement that fully covers your expenses.
How Much Time You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim
CCP §335.1 sets a two-year deadline for filing a wrongful death claim throughout California. However, the time limit differs if medical malpractice caused death. Under CCP § 340.5, you have three years from the date of the injury or one year after discovering the injury for adults, and either three years or until your child would have turned eight (whichever is longer) for minors.
There are some instances when the clock stops (or tolls) on the statute of limitations. One such situation involves the liable party running away from California to evade criminal charges or civil lawsuits. The statute clock would only resume counting once they return to the state.
Consulting a wrongful death lawyer can help you ascertain how much time you have left to file your claim. They can check the tolling exceptions to determine if any apply to your situation.
Seek Justice for Your Loved Ones
Filing wrongful death claims can become a psychologically draining task, especially when dealing with other family members also grieving the loss of a loved one. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm sympathizes with your pain and has Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers ready to guide you through the different types of wrongful death claims. They will help you seek justice and compensation from the party that caused your loved one’s death.
Our legal team has over 30 years’ experience in civil litigation across the U.S. Our practice areas include mesothelioma, drug injuries, car accidents, medical malpractice, and other types of personal injuries that could lead to wrongful death. If you have any concerns regarding your wrongful death claim, you can call us at (800) 223-5115 for a free case review with a team member.