According to the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §377.60, parents, spouses, domestic partners, children, and certain others with legal claims to an estate can file a wrongful death claim.
Also, you must be affected by the death of your loved one in a meaningful way to be able to file a lawsuit. Essentially, you must suffer damages because of their death to be entitled to legal action. This is more established with close family members and can be problematic for estranged family members that return after the victim dies.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death claims can develop from any type of situation, but there are some common options. These common options include:
- Drunk driving accidents: Driving while intoxicated is a type of negligence and opens drunk drivers to lawsuits.
- Reckless driving accidents: Reckless driving is also a type of negligence and is a common cause of fatal accidents.
- Medical malpractice: Medical malpractice can lead to fatalities, which can also make physicians liable for those deaths.
- Nursing home abuse cases: Nursing home abuse can lead to serious medical conditions or even death.
- Product malfunction cases: Companies may be held responsible for products that malfunction and hurt people.
There are other types of cases where wrongful death lawsuits can be filed that are not covered on this list. If someone dies in an accident, then there is a good chance that a wrongful death case may follow.
Statute of Limitations
According to the CCP §335.1, there is a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death cases in California. This means that you have two years to file a lawsuit, or you may lose your chance to do so. Start the legal process as soon as possible to ensure that your lawsuit can be filed in time.
Not every case entitles you to compensation because of the death of a loved one. Sometimes, accidents do happen, and there may not be a person who acted wrongly to be held liable for them. It depends on the circumstances of the situation and what actions were taken by each party. It is only when someone acted wrongly and caused the death of a loved one that they can be held liable.
Settlement vs. Trial
Once you file your lawsuit, it can end in several ways. If nothing changes, your case will go to trial and be decided by a judge. This process takes the longest, but it also gives you a high chance of collecting the full amount of compensation that you may be owed. It is waiting for a trial that bothers many families since they do not want to wait a long time to take further action.
The other alternative is that you are offered a settlement agreement. This offers a faster end to your lawsuit since it will not go to trial. However, you have to negotiate the amount of compensation that you are awarded, which means that you may not receive as much compensation as you could from the trial. Many families choose to renegotiate settlement agreements until they meet their needs, which is a viable option for maximizing your compensation package.
You can collect compensation if you win your lawsuit. The amount and type of compensation that you can collect depend on the claims that you filed. For example, medical expenses are common in wrongful death cases as your loved one probably needed emergency medical care. Seeking compensation for final expenses is also common since many families do not have those funds saved up or accessible.
Perhaps the biggest impact on the family of the victim is the loss of income. Spouses and the victim’s dependents may struggle to maintain their quality of life if they lose a loved one that contributes to the family’s income. In some cases, it may be possible to include a claim in the lawsuit for that lost income, which can give the family more time to find other options.
Seeking Legal Action
If your accident resulted in injuries and expenses, you can file a lawsuit for compensation. However, not all cases qualify for lawsuits. In most instances, and requires proving some type of negligence by the property owner. Your lawyer can help with this process by collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses to make sure that you have enough information to be able to win your case.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
If you need more information or clarification about who can file a wrongful death claim, you can call our team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 223-5115 to speak with us. We are available to help you navigate the complex legal process and to support you during this difficult period. There is no cost for the initial consultation, and we can answer any questions that you may have.